"So there was a serious rift between Theo and, yup, Larry Lucchino, a rift that apparently has been healed, although pardon us if we adopt a wait-and-see attitude. Only if Lucchino is still here a year hence can we be sure that the rapprochement is legit. John Henry has said something to make Theo happy. What is it? Will Theo now answer directly to him, and not Lucchino? If so, can Lucchino handle it? Has Theo been assured that he'll handle baseball and the CEO will handle everything else? Really, now. Nothing else makes sense." (Bob Ryan via Boston Globe 1/25/2006)
When the news of Theo Epstein's return to the Red Sox front office was announced last week, the first question that came to mind was: "What does this mean for Larry Lucchino?" The situation was left open-ended by the club, although principal owner John W. Henry went on record to say that Lucchino's role with the team would not change. But it all seemed so odd, and the next question that came to mind was: "Could this have anything to do with the Nationals?" And so we proposed the idea that Larry Lucchino could be on his way to Washington. We've got no evidence for any of this, it's just mindless rambling:
The Red Sox made it official with a press release yesterday; Epstein assumes his old position as GM, and he's still reporting directly to CEO Lucchino. Strange. What's going on here?
As Ryan Bob Ryan put it: "John Henry has said something to make Theo happy. What is it?"
Shortly before Bud Selig sold the Red Sox to "the highest bidder" in 2002, John W. Henry owned the Florida Marlins. Jeffrey Loria owned les Montreal Expos. Talk of contraction was in the air. But faster than you can say "bag job", Selig pulled a sleight of hand trick and Loria bought the Marlins from Henry and Bud oversaw the sale of the Red Sox to his guys: a group led by John Henry (Henry as majority owner has around 80% of the shares; Lucchino is a minority owner). And then there were the Montreal Expos, who began their lonely, nomadic existence under MLB ownership.
It appears that the District and MLB are finally stumbling towards the finish line with the lease agreement. Mayor Williams and his people will submit yet another revamped stadium plan to the City Council by Friday so it can be yay-ed or nay-ed on February 7th. The city is hoping to start kicking people out of the stadium footprint the same day. So maybe, just maybe, this deal might get done, and...
...in the next few weeks Selig could announce the winner of the Washington Nationals sweepstakes. And we're guessing that it will be a bigger bag job than the Boston deal, where pressure for local ownership was just as intense as it is here in DC. But in the end it didn't matter who had the local ties or the most money: Bud picked his guys. It was that simple. And in this case, Smulyan is Selig's guy. But he's an outsider. He needs someone to run things for him - and that someone will be Larry Lucchino, another one of Selig's guys. Ties to Washington? Check. Experience running a ballclub? Check. Experience building a stadium? Check (see Camden Yards). Lucchino will assume the role of CEO of the Nationals.
So to borrow from Bob Ryan again: "John Henry has said something to make Theo happy. What is it?"
Was it something like: "Come back, and you're my CEO. Larry's leaving for Washington."?