There are few better long-form sports writers out there than the suddenly well-travelled Joe Posnanski (who currently writes for NBC Sports, which has a content deal with CSN, which is where his latest piece appears). Actually, are there any better ones?
So, when Posnanski writes a long, thoughtful profile of Theo Epstein … well, you are commanded to take 10 minutes and read it.
It’s hard to even take a sliver to quote, which can appropriately reflect the whole and incentivize you to read it, but I’ll try:
This is a different kind of book. Epstein believes deeply in it. “The Cubs Way” was co-written by, well, pretty much everybody around here — all the managers and coaches and instructors and front office people in the Cubs organization. They gathered together for days and put it together. The book details the direction for the Cubs in every facet of the game — hitting, bunting, infield defense, outfield defense, pitching, strength and conditioning, everything you could imagine.
It was written with great care. At one point, there was a two-hour argument about whether the runner, when rounding first base, should touch the bag with his left or right foot. Many around baseball think left. The Cubs — because this is Theo’s team — went through a painstaking surveying process, where they decided that the distance is actually a little bit shorter if you touch the base with the right foot. So touching first base with the right foot is now part of The Cubs Way.
“I’ll tell about one of my best days of the year last year,” Epstein says. “I was walking on the field of our instructional league. We had our new farm director, our new field coordinator, our coaches, our young players, the energy they were putting out was off the charts. We had a talented group of young players who were clearly proud to be Cubs, who cared for each other, who were playing hard after a long season, pulling for each other, competing with each other.”
Epstein slaps down again on “The Cubs Way.”
“I walked off that field,” he continues, “thinking we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
He smiles a little bit. “But,” he says, “when you are trying to build an organization the right way, moments like that are fleeting.”
For those who’ve followed Chicago Cubs baseball closely over the past two years, there won’t be much in the article that surprises or informs you. But it’s a well-written, pleasant reminder of what these guys are trying to do.