By Tony Kornheiser
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Within a couple of weeks, Jerry Reinsdorf will tell Bud Selig who the new owner of the Washington Nationals is. And here's the first thing that new owner should do: Call Theo Epstein.
Yes, the Nats have a general manager, whose contract has been extended all the way through lunch next Friday. They currently have Cristian "I Can't Hit Wilbon's Weight" Guzman at shortstop as well. Things change.
Here's why the Nats should hire Epstein, who serendipitously has an opening on his dance card: In his three years as Red Sox GM, Epstein's team got to the playoffs three times, and won the World Series once. And for those of you who think that's no big deal because the Red Sox have a mighty big payroll, let me remind you the last time the Red Sox won the World Series: It's a fun year I like to call 1918. (I was in grade school. I listened on Tommy Edison's crystal set.)
All Epstein did in Boston was change the culture of the Red Sox. He signed David Ortiz before anyone realized he was MVP-good. He traded for Curt Schilling, and personally persuaded a reluctant Schilling over Thanksgiving dinner to accept the trade. He somehow figured how to keep Kevin Millar from going to Japan, even though Millar had already been traded there by the Marlins. He had the onions to trade demigod Nomar Garciaparra for two defensive guys, Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz, who -- hello -- owns the World Series ball. And oh, yeah, he signed Keith Foulke, whose knee injury this year probably cost the Red Sox a second championship.
You can probably get him for $1 million-plus a year -- a lot less than "Mr. September" Guzman is making. If it was my team, I'd go see Theo and make the argument that a number of prominent Bostonians, including Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, have tried awfully hard to get a managerial job in Washington. And now one has Epstein's name on it.