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Cubs GM Theo Epstein Named 'World's Greatest Leader,' Tops The Pope On List

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 23, 2017 6:23PM

That "leader pose" alone probably got him some votes / Getty Images / Photo: Elsa

The numbers show that there may have been a vacuum waiting to be filled, but still, we won't denigrate Cubs General Manager Theo Epstein's latest outsize honorific: greatest leader on the planet.

Yep, baseball's resident curse-slayer and analytics boy genius led Fortune's list of the Top 50 World's Greatest Leaders, beating out the placing "competition," which included Pope Francis (#3), Ava DuVernay (#6), Angela Merkel (#10) and—another Chicago shoutout!—Chance the Rapper (#46). After Game Seven, was there any debate? (You can check out the full list here.)

Having lived through last season, the North Side of Chicago may be a wee biased, but we can see it. Epstein is very likely the smartest and best-looking guy in whatever room he finds himself, but he nonetheless manages to inspire loyalty and admiration where another might simply fuel blind envy. He even manages to make what would otherwise be mere fratty hijinks, like spraying booze while sporting a giant bear mask, altogether charming. Unsurprisingly, his response to the world-beating news was pure baseball-y self-effacement.

He aw-shucks'ed to ESPN:

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house. That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball--a pastime involving a lot of chance. If Zobrist's ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

See, folks, that's not your run-of-the-mill, leadership-seminar-at-a-conference-room-near-the-airport hokum; that's the top-shelf stuff. Even as a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan, this writer has to admit a great deal of respect for what Epstein has accomplished and how he's done it.

Fortune makes its case:

"The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox."

Democratic National Committee, here's your man.