Theo Epstein got himself hired as general manager of the Red Sox at age 28 and quickly became known as a baseball wunderkind when Boston busted its curse and won the World Series in 2004. Epstein is 42 now and on the cusp of doing the same for another city as president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs. (The Series starts Tuesday night.) In a lengthy profile at ESPN, Wright Thompson profiles Epstein, now considered a "baseball whisperer" of sorts. One nugget: He walks the seven blocks to work every day. "Most people don't recognize him with his baseball hat pulled low, one of the most famous sports executives in the country, the man who embraced the culture of analytics to finally bring a title to the Red Sox," writes Thompson.
But much of the piece details how the real Epstein is quite a contrast from the image of an "analytics" nerd who crunches numbers. Complicated-looking formulas are posted on a glass window in his office, all of it "meaningless," Epstein explains, a joke playing off that image. He loves the game on a gut level, a feeling he had all but lost in Boston, writes Thompson, who adds that the stress took a physical toll. "His friends saw how the job changed his face." At one point, he called the Patriots' Bill Belichick for advice on handling success after the World Series win, and Belichick told him, "You're f-----." Click for the full story, in which Epstein recalls being so introverted in high school that he would follow people home unnoticed. "I could not exist but observe." (Read more Theo Epstein stories.)