Photos of Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations.
When former baseball executive Paul DePodesta took over as chief strategy officer for the Cleveland Browns last year, owner Jimmy Haslam said DePodesta’s "approach and ambition to find the best pathways for organizational success transcend one specific sport."
It was a bold move by the Browns, who were inviting more ridicule by turning to a well-known baseball analytics geek to fix a perennial NFL loser.
DePodesta, a longtime front-office executive who briefly served as Dodgers general manager, mostly was known for his role as a stats-junkie A’s underling in the book "Moneyball," which was made into a Brad Pitt movie.
Unfortunately for DePodesta, Pitt played A’s GM Billy Beane, while Jonah Hill played a round, nerdish, DePodesta-like character. DePodesta didn’t allow his name to be in the movie, though thanks to Hill, "Peter Brand" was the most interesting character.
DePodesta’s name came up during a recent conversation with Cubs President Theo Epstein regarding his post-Cubs future.
Epstein has ruled out running for political office and said on David Axelrod’s podcast in January he ultimately wants to own a team. Sounds like a plan.
But what if the NFL called in the meantime?
Would Epstein have any trouble "doing a DePodesta" and switching sports, going from high-profile baseball president to NFL GM?
"I know how long you have to be around the game of baseball before you can develop the right kind of instincts and intuition," he replied. "I wouldn’t presume to be able to do that in another sport. I think that would take 10 years to get up to speed."
Maybe, but if DePodesta succeeds in turning around the Browns, perhaps the worst franchise in pro sports, look for copycat NFL owners to order their headhunters to search for analytically driven MLB executives to call their own.
Epstein, a longtime New England Patriots fan, would have the ear of coach Bill Belichick, whom Epstein reached out to in 2004 for advice on how to handle success after the Red Sox won the World Series.
"You’re (bleeped)," Belichick told Epstein, according to ESPN The Magazine.
Epstein has won two more World Series rings. A Super Bowl ring might provide the perfect ending, but we’ll likely never know.
Extra innings: The Indians called up outfielder Dan Robertson last week and gave him No. 99, making him the team’s first player with that number, not including Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in "Major League." … Cardinals pinch hitters entered the weekend with a .385 average, best in the majors. Their 20 pinch hits were third behind the Dodgers (25) and Cubs (23). … The Astros had the best 40-game start in the majors at 28-12. Three of the last four teams to win 28 of their first 40 went on to win the World Series: the 2005 White Sox, 2007 Red Sox and 2016 Cubs. … The minor-league St. Paul Saints have a pig mascot named Alternative Fats.