- The Washington Times - Friday, March 24, 2017

Fortune Magazine published its annual ranking of world leaders Thursday morning, and an interesting name stood atop the list.

Theo Espstein, Chicago Cubs’ president of baseball operations, took home the top spot, finishing ahead of Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Pope Francis came in third and Melinda Gates was fourth. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rounded out the top five.

Epstein ended two of baseball’s longest championship droughts, first with the Red Sox in 2004, and with Chicago last season.

Leading a team with one of baseball’s highest payrolls to a championship didn’t strike readers as the feat of a “great world leader,” at least not compared to someone like the Pope. Even Epstein himself was surprised.

“Um, I can’t even get my dog to stop peeing in the house,” he said in a text message to ESPN’s Buster Olney. “That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It’s baseball — a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches further off the line, I’m on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. I’m not even the best leader in our organization; our players are.”

Epstein’s surprising ranking prompted questions of the criteria used to make up the list.

“This time there was no proprietary formula, no algorithm, for self-motivated, high-character players and creating an environment for them to flourish,” Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci wrote for Fortune. “[Epstein and his assistants] never stopped searching to find edges, but they made a fundamential decision early after coming to Chicago that the one edge they could exploit was found in a very old-school resource: people.”

Epstein will be nicely compensated for his leadership. His first contract paid him $3.7 million per year on average, and his current deal sees him making nearly $10 million per year.

Epstein wasn’t the only sports figure on the list, as Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James was ranked 11th.

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