Cubs

Another magazine honors Theo Epstein, as Cubs president lands on Time's list of 100 most influential people

Another magazine honors Theo Epstein, as Cubs president lands on Time's list of 100 most influential people

Perhaps it's not quite as prestigious as being named the world's greatest leader by Fortune, but Theo Epstein has another magazine honor to deal with.

The Cubs president of baseball operations landed on Time's annual list of the 100 most influential people.

Epstein wasn't the only sports figure on the list, joined by Cleveland Cavaliers supertsar LeBron James, New England Patriots championship-machine Tom Brady, Olympic gold-medal gymnast Simone Biles, Brazilian soccer star Neymar and lightning-rod quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

But the list also includes the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. government and other world leaders.

In fact, Epstein is listed in the "leaders" category, which is exclusively populated by the planet's biggest newsmakers: the heads of state of the United States, United Kingdom, India, China, North Korea, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Thailand; two U.S. senators; a Supreme Court justice; the Secretary of Defense; advisors to the presidents of the United States; the head of the Democratic Party; the director of the FBI; and, oh yeah, the Pope.

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Additionally, keeping in line with celebrities writing the blurbs for each of Time's honorees, Epstein is profiled by famous Cubs fan John Cusack.

Here's what Cusack wrote about Epstein:

"Theo Epstein has this weird hue around him. His vision helped end historic World Series droughts in both Chicago and Boston. But his power lies in a paradox, in the knowledge that the only way to keep power is to give it away. He knows Wrigley Field is a multigenerational secular church. Our families have been there a long, long time. We are all just renting — nobody owns this.

"Theo may be a creature of destiny, but he recognizes that he's also just another flawed human being, no better than anyone else. It's an artful thing to thread that needle and wear it as a matter of common sense. He's more Old World than old school. Words and deeds need to match. Trust is earned. He apologizes to no one for caring.

"You can see it in the eyes of those he holds close. The relationships are far more personal and dignified than people crowding around a winner. When you mention someone he truly reveres, like the historian Howard Zinn, Theo's poker face drops into a reverential smile.

"After that epic World Series Game 7, I found myself in the dugout watching first baseman Anthony Rizzo waving to the heavens. Theo was quite still — I watched him watch Rizzo. He must have felt it and turned to me, almost apologetic. 'I haven't given you a proper hug!' he said.

"'Greatest sporting moment of the century,' I told him. 'Thank you. And thank you from my father.' He took it but undercut his achievement with a wry smile. 'No,' he said, 'it's all about these guys.' Then he walked back into the fray."

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

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USA TODAY

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship Series — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

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USA TODAY

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

In Theo Epstein's end of season press conference on Friday he said that any coach Joe Maddon wants back will return in 2018.

Evidently, there's one coach Maddon didn't want back.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have fired longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Bosio served as the Cubs pitching coach from 2012-17. He was the team's pitching coach under former managers' Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Rick Renteria (2014), and was retained when Maddon was hired as manager of the Cubs in 2015.

Bosio, who is one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, was instrumental in the career resurgence of Jake Arrieta who captured the Cy Young award in 2015, and the development of 27-year-old starter Kyle Hendricks (MLB's ERA leader in 2016).

One reason that could've led to Bosio's firing was the pitching staff's control issues during both the regular season and postseason, which Epstein mentioned during Friday's press conference. The Cubs issued the fifth-most walks (554) in the National League during the regular season and the highest total (53) during the postseason.

As the Cubs hit the market for a new pitching coach, Nightengale mentioned that one name that could be on the radar is former Tampa Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who parted ways with the organization following the 2017 season.

Hickey served as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014.