Theo Epstein is too competitive to bask fully in the Boston Red Sox’s success, but he still manages to smile when they win.

The former Red Sox general manager and current Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations explained to The Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham his rooting interest played out differently during the 2018 World Series than many might expect. Epstein, a Brookline, Mass., native, said the success of his old friends the Red Sox organization brought him more joy than the team’s triumph, given his association with the Cubs.

“I was rooting for individual players more than anything,” Epstein said in an feature Abraham published Saturday. “I have a great connection with a lot of the folks in their front office, still. I want to see them succeed. It was great to see that a lot of those people I care so much about put a fourth ring on their fingers. That’s pretty rare air. I was thrilled for everybody. But it’s been so long now. It was cool to be a part of that, but it’s a new generation of players now. But it’s fun to see the organization have success and what John (Henry), Tom (Werner), and Sam (Kennedy) have accomplished.

Epstein was the Red Sox GM in 2005 when they traded Ramon Vazquez to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Alex Cora. Cora didn’t surprise Epstein by becoming a big league manager but his outstanding management during the playoffs and World Series left his one-time boss awestruck.

“The postseason, for me, also stood out because it was such a masterpiece by Alex Cora,” Epstein said. “It was fun to think back to when we brought him over to the Red Sox, how valuable a presence he was not only on the field but on the bench. If you had told me then that he’d be a manager someday you could probably believe that. But I probably wouldn’t have believed he’d have the single best debut season in postseason play ever.”

Sure, Epstein’s Cubs are trying to dethrone the Red Sox this season. But he’s still a lifelong Boston sports fan, and his deep-seated feelings about the Red Sox haven’t faded away.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images