Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Young Reporter Gets His Story

A week or so ago, I had the pleasure of covering a fundraising event in Vermont sponsored by ESPN's Buster Olney. The event—to help that state's farmers who'd been ravaged by Hurricane Irene—featured Theo Epstein, Brain Cashman and Pirates GM Neal Huntington. Also on hand to cover the proceedings was 11-year old sports reporter Jasper Goodman. Jasper is actually an on-air personality for WDEV radio in Waterbury, Vermont. Of course, he's a Red Sox fan—but he doesn't let it get in the way of his journalistic mission. One of the nicest moments of the evening was Theo Epstein setting aside a few moments to give Jasper an exclusive one-on-one interview (see photo). Jasper handled it with total professionalism.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Rahm'-ming through Wrigley Takeover?

Growing up in Greater Boston, Theo Epstein may have thought he understood the influence of politics on public affairs—including sports. After all, the main reason we don't have a 21st century replicate of Fenway Park is provincial political intransigence. Shut up and enjoy your obstructed view of "America's Most Beloved Ballpark".

But Theo ain't seen nothin' yet. Chicago, known for gangsterism and rough politics (sometimes indistinguishable) now has a White House renegade as Mayor. Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama's pit bull Chief of Staff, is bringing new meaning to Windy City hardball. Not only has he fired former Mayor Daley's nephew from the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, he's talking about re-starting an old plan to have the state of Illinois acquire and renovate Wrigley Field. That oughta give his new owner a case of the "Ricketts". Good luck, Theo!

Theo Helps Out Vemont Farmers

ESPN's Buster Olney grew up on a farm in Vermont. So, when Hurricane Irene's flooding devasted farmers in his home state, he decided to do something about it. He recruited baseball executives Theo Epstein (then of the Red Sox, now of the Cubs), Brian Cashman (Yankees) and Neal Huntington (Pirates) to join together at a fundraising event called 'Going To Bat For Vermont'. All three were in Randolph Center, Vermont last Saturday to offer a round table discussion of baseball along with a star-studded array of auctioned baseball memorabilia.

We spoke with all three execs prior to the event. Theo Epstein seemed relaxed and comfortable talking about his new role in Chicago. We asked him if uncertainty around the unresolved Collective Bargaining Agreement might result in free agents opting for shorter-term deals—hoping for a second bite at the apple with a wider array of teams down the road. Epstein stated, "No, the number of years is a very important consideration for players, it shouldn't make a difference."

Tonight's event is expected to raise in the neighborhood of $200,000 for farmers in the area—and baseball can be proud of its role in the success.

(Exclusive FenwayNation Photo)