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Cash and Theo and Who Cares?

I was watching last night's Rangers-Tigers playoff game, with all the towels whipping in the air, and thinking how much cooler it would be if they were cheering their team on with lingerie. The first team that signs on for rally-panties will have a real competitive advantage. But then, I'm a guy who thinks "interpretive sex" should be part of the gymnastics program at the summer Olympics. Anyway...

While roiling seas rage around Theo Epstein and his ship departing from Boston, Brian Cashman's negotiations with the Yankees for another tour seem to be proceeding apace. In both cases, I wonder how much difference it all makes. For each team, the Cubs, Red Sox, and Yankees, there are institutional restraints on the executive that would seem to make the identity of the man in charge less important than would appear to be the case at first glance.

For every team, the GM is merely the pinnacle, the public face, of a larger hierarchy. With the Yankees, that hierarchy is vastly more complex than with other clubs, because the GM can say, "We don't need Rafael Soriano, I'm not blowing a draft pick on this guy," and lo and behold, Rafael Soriano appears anyway. It may be useful to have an executive who is willing to eat crow in public while dealing with the day-to-day of running the club, but we needn't confuse that guy with Branch Rickey or assume that someone else couldn't do the job just as well.

The GM of the Red Sox has not been a solo flier either, while the Cubs have already taken steps to constrain their incoming chief by retaining their scouting director, whose record in the draft has been extremely poor. I've noticed in the comment here over the years a great deal of criticism of Cashman. Without taking on those criticisms specifically, I'm not sure that criticizing him is on the nose given the way the Yankees are run. Similarly, for a Cubs fan to assume that Theo will have a radical impact on the way business is done at Wrigley Field assumes a lot about both the Cubs and the Red Sox organizations, probably inaccurately.

Back in 2008, I was excited about the possibility of change in politics. Instead, I have seen that Pete Townshend was prophetic when he wrote, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." That goes for baseball as well. Unless you're cleaning things out completely, nothing changes. In both cases, government and baseball, it's the ownership that dictates the way things are run, not the glorified spokesman.

It's not cynicism if it's true.