Cashman and Epstein Entertain with Behind-the-Scenes Baseball Stories
Although no longer the rivals they were when they were booked for Sacred Heart University’s 2011-2012 Student Affairs Lecture Series, Brian Cashman and Theo Epstein entertained a capacity crowd at the University’s Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts Tuesday night with tales of what goes on behind the scenes in the world of major league baseball.
Cashman, senior vice president and general manager of the New York Yankees, and Epstein, general manager of the Boston Red Sox for nine seasons and now president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, professed to have great respect for one another and to be looking forward to serious trade talk now that they aren’t arch enemies.
“Cash was always on top of everything. We couldn’t let our guard down; we could never relax,” Epstein said. “We tried to focus on executing our own strategy and building our organization the way we wanted to, but he seemed to be in all places at all times. I always felt like he was lurking around and had a great sense of the marketplace. It wasn't a good feeling, but I certainly admired those characteristics.”
Cashman said his perception of Epstein was “pure, objective discipline. Their decision making was based on pure, objective analysis about what was best for the team rather than emotion about the player. The Red Sox were constantly making the right choice instead of the popular choice. That helped us change our thinking and reset our buttons. The best compliment you can give is when you start studying your opponent, and I was forced to study what the Red Sox were doing.”
With the niceties out of the way, the two moved on to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, the rewards and frustrations of the job, the high and low moments of their careers and the funny things that happen behind the scenes.
Epstein said he grew up a Red Sox fan in the Boston area and had the hatred of the Yankees that goes along with that. “Once I was on the inside, I needed to shift my focus. I felt sometimes that we were focused on image rather than substance and were too focused on the Yankees. Of course we saw them 19 times a year for five-hour games, so we couldn’t ignore them. But, as an executive, I sometimes had to look away; as a fan, you can focus on the rivalry.”
“There was always a letdown after those series,” Cashman said. “It’s intense and the people you work for can overreact to what is essentially a three-game series.