Theo Epstein may have escaped the daily grind of the front office, but he’ll still have an active hand in the game. According to Bruce Levine, Epstein will be joining the commissioner’s office as a consultant regarding on-field matters. What exactly that means isn’t clear yet, but Epstein would presumably have input on various pace-of-play initiatives.
Breaking news -Theo Epstein will join the commissioners office as a consultant regarding on field matters. MLB will announce today.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) January 14, 2021
“Theo is one of the most accomplished and thoughtful people in our sport,” commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “I am grateful that he has accepted our invitation to complement our ongoing efforts and provide his insights on making the best game in the world even better for the next generation of fans.”
Those ongoing efforts could include things like pitch clocks, extra-inning rules, robo-umps, and even regulating the shift. Whether this is just a temporary role while Epstein awaits another team-based gig or possibly a way for him to take on more responsibility at league HQ isn’t yet known.
“It is an honor to assist the efforts by Major League Baseball and the Competition Committee to improve the on-field product, and I appreciate Commissioner Manfred asking me to be a part of these important conversations,” read a statement from Epstein. “As the game evolves, we all have an interest in ensuring the changes we see on the field make the game as entertaining and action-packed as possible for the fans, while preserving all that makes baseball so special. I look forward to working with interested parties throughout the industry to help us collectively navigate toward the very best version of our game.”
If this ends up being something more permanent, it’s easy to see Epstein guiding MLB’s broader cultural efforts when it comes to diversity and appealing to younger generations. The intense focus on generating as much revenue as possible has pleased owners, but the league has fallen behind when it comes to broadening its appeal and making its product easier to consume via newer media models.
Whatever the case, this is a great move for the commissioner’s office.