(670 The Score) As Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein departs the organization after a remarkable nine-year run, his short-term plan is to take next season off and fill an informal or part-time role in which he can help grow the game as MLB faces challenges both on the field and off the field.
Building off that, could that mean the 46-year-old Epstein is interested in becoming MLB commissioner one day? It’s a talking point among fans, and many inside the industry believe he would fit great in that leadership role.
“I’m interested in baseball thriving,” Epstein said on the Danny Parkins Show on Wednesday afternoon, a day after he announced he would resign from the Cubs, effective Friday. “I love the game to its core, and it’s a huge part of who I am. I’m not myself when I’m not around the game. And so I’m happy when baseball is the national pastime, hands down, no questions asked, where everyone is just, ‘Oh yeah, baseball is awesome this year.’ Where everyone is talking about their favorite team, it’s a great season, where people are locked in. I love to be in a city in the postseason where everybody is groggy and late for work and getting absolutely nothing done because they’re staying up until 1 in the morning watching the games and can’t fall asleep. That is awesome. I just want our sport to thrive.”
After sharing his love of the game, Epstein stopped short of indicating he’s the right individual to a future commissioner. He was happy to expand as well.
“I don’t think I’m qualified at all to be the commissioner, certainly not at this point and not anytime soon, if ever,” Epstein said. “And we have a great commissioner in Rob Manfred. But one of the great things about being the head of a baseball operation is you get a dialogue with some extent to the commissioner and to a large extent with his lieutenants. And you know, there are some serious facing the game over the next couple of years, not the least of which is just the way, the quality of the game on the field has deteriorated to some extent with the evolution of the game over the last couple decades. We need to reverse some of those trends to make the game more entertaining and more aesthetically pleasing, get the ball in play, get more action involved in the game.
“It’s hard for people who are with teams to sometimes address those issues, because you can’t take your competitive lens off. You can’t say, ‘Hey, I think this rule change would be great for the game even though it’s bad for the Cubs in the short term.’ So I see that as a huge advantage now that I’m not going to be with a team for a period of time. So maybe I can find a way to still be part of that conversation. It doesn’t have to be with any formal title or anything, but I look forward to picking up the phone and calling over to the great people at Major League Baseball and just maybe contributing an idea here or there and being part of that dialogue. Because I think it is the greatest game in the world, but we have to be mindful that it’s entertainment.
"There’s no doubt that the strikeout rate keeps climbing up to 25% and heading toward 30% or something and trends continue, that just changes the nature of what it’s like to watch a baseball game. We want action. We want the essence of the game to stay the same – more balls in play, more action, more triples, more doubles, more great defensive plays, more time bringing the fans out of their seats in excitement and less time waiting around for something to happen.”
Epstein leaves the Cubs after leading them to five playoff appearances, three National League Central crowns, three NL Championship Series appearances and one long-awaited World Series championship in his tenure in Chicago.