(CBS) On July 5, 2002, the Cubs issued a press release saying that manager Don Baylor “has been relieved of his managerial duties.”
On Nov. 2, 2011, the Cubs issued a press release saying manager Mike Quade “will not return in 2012.”
Practically speaking, both were fired. That was the same fate that Rick Renteria met Friday afternoon, when Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein announced — in big letters in the headline — that Renteria had been “fired” as Chicago was on the verge of signing Joe Maddon.
That’s right, Renteria was “fired.” In a politically correct world in which sports organizations typically announce that a coach or manager has been “relieved of his duties” or “won’t be retained” or simply “won’t return” as the sides are “parting ways,” Epstein and his cohorts laid out the honest truth in a well-written press release.
What’s the difference in those words? Nothing. Does this prose mean anything moving forward? Nope.
But it is reflective of how Epstein is operating. He has a championship in mind, and if the Cubs are to win their first World Series since 1908, they must confront hard truths, and there’s no time to consider feelings.
There can only be one goal in mind.
“We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization,” Epstein said. “In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.”