You might think Leslie Epstein would be feeling good these days. After all, his son, Theo, who won two World Series as GM of the Red Sox, is poised to win it all again, this time as president of the Chicago Cubs, a team that hasn’t raised a World Series trophy since Teddy Roosevelt was commander-in-chief.
But reached Friday, Epstein, a novelist and English professor at BU, sounded frazzled: He was getting ready to fly to Chicago for Games 3 and 4 at Wrigley Field, and frantically prepping for the creative-writing class he has to teach as soon as he returns Monday.
“I’m nervous,” he said. “I’m nervous about the Series and I’m very nervous about the election.”
We called Epstein to talk baseball, but he’s clearly more concerned about the election, which he predicts Donald Trump is going to win, regardless of what the polls say.
“When the rag-tag Russian army beat Napoleon’s great army, that was esprit. In this country, it’s called fanaticism,” said Epstein, whose father and uncle, Julius and Philip Epstein — Oscar winners for writing “Casablanca” — were briefly investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee in the ’50s.
“Look, [Trump’s] people will stand in line [at the polls] all day in the rain. But the minute Hillary’s people can’t find an umbrella, they’ll stay home,” said Epstein, who believes Trump’s base is much broader than people think. “Half of my poker group is voting for him. These are intelligent, often Jewish, well-educated people in Massachusetts, and they’re voting for Trump. I’ll tell you it’s strained some friendships.”
But what about baseball? Yes, Epstein’s heard the talk about Theo being a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame if the Cubs end their World Series drought and finally win.
“I’m no more proud of him than I’ve always been,” Epstein said. “Throughout baseball, especially among players, he’s thought of as a fundmentally fair man. When there’s bad news to deliver to somebody, he doesn’t have an underling do it.”
Asked about Terry Francona, the Indians manager who won two championships with Theo in Boston, Epstein called him a “terribly nice man” and a “truly great manager.” Does he want to beat him? You bet.