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Alex Speier

Theo Epstein downplays idea of getting into politics

Theo Epstein spoke to media outside the White House last January after President Obama honored the 2016 World Series champion Cubs.AP

Since the roster that Theo Epstein constructed won the Cubs’ first World Series in 108 years, Chicago’s president of baseball operations increasingly has emerged as a popular suggestion for a different type of office.

But at a Champions For Charity fund-raising event Friday — the start of a weekend of events organized by the Foundation To Be Named Later, a charity established by Theo and his twin brother Paul in conjunction with the Red Sox Foundation – Epstein expressed his objection to suggestions of political aspirations.

“I just laughed,” Epstein said of a recent suggestion by longtime political strategist David Axelrod. “Crumpled up the piece of paper, threw it in the garbage.

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“This stuff is ridiculous, all these articles. I think I need to go do something really ill-advised or commit a felony or something. I can put a stop to it in a hurry.

“But people who know me would just laugh at that. I barely can get out of bed and get my job done the right way in the morning most of the time.”

Part of Epstein’s discomfort with the notion that he can fix seemingly intractable problems reflects his objection to characterizations of his impact at the expense of the contributions of his colleagues. Epstein noted that GMs and presidents of baseball operations now receive a disproportionate degree of credit for what takes place on the field.

“It’s a group effort,” he said. “Every time a team wins a championship, it’s because of hundreds of people making sacrifices and it’s just a sign of the times. These days the GM gets a lot of credit for it when it’s an organization-wide effort.

“When I was growing up [watching the 1984 Tigers], you didn’t know who the GM was, you just knew it was [shortstop Alan] Trammel and [second baseman Lou] Whitaker up the middle. You didn’t know it was Bill LaJoie behind the scenes drafting those guys. And I wish Bill LaJoie got more credit, but I wish I got a lot less. It’s just kind of weird the way the game’s evolved.”

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Epstein suggested that he was giving less thought to his professional future — at a time when he’s in the first year of a five-year contract extension with the Cubs — than he is to the forthcoming series against the Red Sox, as well as the chance to revel in a return to the region where he grew up and where he won his first two championships.

“Boston will always be home,” said Epstein. “I grew up here, fell in love with baseball here, had my first son here, spent 10 years working for the Red Sox and a lifetime loving the franchise. It’ll always be home.

“I’m just so lucky I have a second home now in Chicago. My youngest son was born there, and spent five years working there and have had a lot of good things happen, so I’m just lucky to have connections to both these great cities. But Boston’s always my hometown.

“The first thing I did yesterday just after I dropped my bags off in the hotel room, it was just starting to become a nice day, and I went for a long run along the Esplanade and through Back Bay. The city was just shining. It’s a special place.

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“I love Chicago. That’s a world class city. Boston is, too. Every time I come back here, I’m just reminded how lucky I was to grow up here.”


Follow Alex Speier on Twitter at @alexspeier.