Baseball Insider

Theogate: Snubbing ex-stars as much a part of Red Sox lore as Fenway

The Red Sox are good at a lot of things. But they have never been very good at saying goodbye.

So it should come as no surprise the team omitted ex-general manager Theo Epstein, who engineered their only two World Series championships since 1918, from the original invite list for the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park on Friday. Eventually, the Red Sox did send a late invite to Epstein, but not before they ceded Theo the high road.

"I hope tomorrow is a great day for Red sox fans and for the whole organization,'' Epstein texted. "I have plans to be at the Cubs game tomorrow, but I will take a moment to toast Fenway along with everyone else who loves that ballpark.''

Epstein's late invite came via a phone call from a Red Sox person (not team president Larry Lucchino or Henry). They offered a spot in a suite, presumably not near Lucchino, his nemesis of several years in Boston.

The Red Sox surely have a great celebration planned. They know how to celebrate with the best of them.

They just don't know how to part ways with a former great, to smooth out hard feelings or to bury the hatchet. Those things are anathema to the Red Sox, who had bad breakups with a number of greats, including Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon, Carlton Fisk, Fred Lynn, Rick Burleson and many others. (Even lovable Johnny Pesky was traded away.)

Red Sox owner John Henry suggested it was someone else's call not to invite Epstein when he told Red Sox media, "Apparently we decided to just invite uniformed personnel.'' Henry is pretty good at that -- suggesting he plays only a minor role. Even though he's the owner, he suggested in a radio interview he wasn't really completely on board with the sigining of Carl Crawford.

It's become pretty clear Henry and Epstein weren't as tight as they once were, that their issues went beyond Epstein's decision to leave for the Cubs, and also Henry's decision to let him leave. Word was getting out around baseball that Epstein was going to be gone after this year, anyway, which probably limited the value of the compensation Boston got for Epstein.

Anyway, soon after the Epstein snub started to draw some attention, the team responded by inviting him, and two other recent GMs, Mike Port and Dan Duquette, who have to feel pretty special to be invited this way. By then, it was too late.

They'd already opened the door to questions about why they'd snub Theo the way they often snub the big figures in their past. The answer seems obvious: It's the way things are done around there.


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