For those with a genetic hatred of Chicago's Northside baseball team, here is a corrective Sabermetrical essay that just appeared in the NY Fishwrap. Diehard supporters of Chicago's Southside baseball team can untwist their undies. In the meantime, roll over, Billy Sianis and Steve Bartman, the Chicago Cubs just clinched the National League Central Division title and will move on to the playoffs leading to the World Series. If this is (fair & balanced) virtual spellwork, so be it.
[x New Yorker]
The Most Pleasing Campaign Of 2016
By Axe (David Axlerod)
TagCrowd cloud of the following piece of writing
Theo Epstein, the president of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs, was running behind. “I just need a few minutes,” he said. “Have you eaten?” The still boyish former wunderkind, now forty-two, had one more matter to tend to before turning to our scheduled chat, so he deposited me in the staff cafeteria of the Under Armour Performance Center, the team’s new spring-training complex, in Mesa, Arizona. As he was leaving, he waved over an earnest, clean-cut young man to keep me company. “Meet Sean,” he said, patting the kid on the shoulder. “He’s our defensive specialist.”
Sean Ahmed didn’t look like a guy ready to bare-hand a bunt and start a double play. The thirty-one-year-old was dressed in a polo shirt, jeans, and gym shoes, and he looked like one of the thousands of young geeks you might find sitting on exercise balls and staring at computer screens in Silicon Valley. With his degree in economics from the University of Chicago, he could have been one. Instead, he spends long days modelling data, some from advance scouts, who watch video to forecast where balls are likely to be hit each time a particular batter faces one of the Cubs’ pitchers; the Cubs can then position fielders in those places, giving the team a competitive edge. “My mom emigrated from Turkey, so she doesn’t really get the baseball thing,” he said with a resigned smile. “There was always that tension between becoming a doctor and, well, you know....”
Doctors do important work, but very few people can help a big-league team prevent one hit a week, which is what the Cubs coaches estimate that Ahmed has done. He’s one of eight mathematicians and computer whizzes in a data-analytics unit that Epstein has assembled since he came to Chicago, in 2011, to do for the hapless Cubs what he did for the Boston Red Sox: build a championship team. “Actually, you should know that I considered working for the Obama campaign and was really tempted,” Ahmed said, perhaps sheepish about having chosen the Cubs over the loftier-sounding pursuit with which I was once associated, having spent a decade as Barack Obama’s senior political strategist. “But, you know, these opportunities don’t come around too often.”
I didn’t blame him. The Cubs’ quest for greatness is the most pleasing campaign of 2016. The last time the Cubs won a World Series was during the Roosevelt Administration—Teddy’s, not Franklin’s. The hundred and eight years that the team has gone without a title is the longest championship drought in American sports. Even on those rare occasions when the Cubs have shown some serious mettle, freakish events have conspired against them. I was at Wrigley Field, in 2003, when the Cubs were five outs from clinching the National League pennant, until a clueless—and instantly infamous—fan named Steve Bartman reached over the stands and touched a foul ball, depriving the team of a crucial out. The Florida Marlins went on to stage an eight-run rally, winning the game and, from there, the series. Fiascos like that one left Chicagoans talking again about the so-called Curse of the Billy Goat: back in 1945, the last time the Cubs were in the Series, a flamboyant self-promoter named Billy Sianis, the proprietor of the Billy Goat Tavern, allegedly cursed the team to eternal doom after Murphy, his pet goat, was barred from Wrigley Field.
But as fall approaches, the Cubs are on an epic roll. They have by far the best record in baseball—by Labor Day, they had outscored their opponents by a prodigious two hundred and twenty-nine runs, a differential that puts them among history’s élite teams. Their manager, Joe Maddon, an aging hipster and baseball savant, has led the team through the slumps, injuries, and mental fatigue inevitable in a long season, deftly pacing the players for a playoff run. They won twenty-two games in August, the most for the Cubs in a single month since that last pennant-winning season, in 1945. Now the street venders who mass between Wrigley Field and the nearby Red Line train station on game days are hawking a red, white, and blue T-shirt that pays homage to Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the team’s formidable young sluggers: “Bryant/Rizzo ’16. Make Chicago Great Again.”
Torn down to the studs and assiduously rebuilt by Epstein, this once creaky franchise now strikes me as baseball’s version of the Obama campaigns that I helped to lead—young, hungry, joyful, and bent on using new tools to challenge conventional theories about how to win.
The search for competitive advantages in baseball used to be easier. In the early two-thousands, Billy Beane, who was the general manager of the Oakland A’s at the time, famously fashioned his low-budget team into a surprising contender by using data analytics to find hidden gems among the players whom other teams had rejected. This was the dawning of the Moneyball (2003, 2004) era, as Michael Lewis would dub Beane’s techniques in his best-selling book.
Epstein became Boston’s general manager, in 2002, after Beane declined the job. “It was a different time,” Epstein recalled. “You could get ahead by just understanding some simple truths about the game that weren’t widely accepted yet, like valuing on-base percentage, for instance”—which accounts not only for a batter’s hits but also his walks—“over batting average.” In Boston, Epstein won two World Series, in part by digging deeper into data, drawing on the burgeoning field of sabermetrics (named after the Society for American Baseball Research). Sabermetricians examine the various statistics a baseball game produces, with an eye toward figuring out which skills and outcomes really determine who wins and loses. When a batter puts the ball in play and it results in an out, what really made that happen, and how can we quantify it? Now most major-league teams ask those sorts of questions; yesterday’s winning insights have become today’s common practices. And so, in rebuilding the Cubs, Epstein has relied not only on statistical analysis but psychology, even neuroscience—anything to push his team ahead of the pack.
“All combined knowledge of baseball probably represents three per cent of the game—ninety-seven per cent is unknown,” Epstein told me this spring. “So we’re constantly asking each other questions, testing hypotheses, challenging other people’s opinions—asking if there’s a better way to do things, a better way to capture data, gather data, work with data, testing out old scouting axioms to see if they can be proven by the numbers or disproven by the numbers.” To longtime fans, the notion of the hidebound Cubs as a laboratory for innovation is an astonishing development. The transformation began with the return of the team, in 2009, to private ownership. For nearly thirty years, the Tribune Company, which bought the team from the Wrigley family, in 1981, had used the Cubs primarily to furnish programming for its television and radio properties. The company tried to keep the team competitive through the periodic signing of free agents, but as a public company confronted by the tyranny of quarterly reports—and later by the collapse of its newspaper revenues—it simply could not make the long-term investments required of a winning baseball franchise. Then the Ricketts family, prominent in the brokerage of stocks and bonds—and in political circles—acquired a majority interest in the team. The family promised a new approach.
“We don’t believe in curses,” Tom Ricketts, the Cubs chairman, told me when I visited Mesa this spring. Ricketts, with his dark, combed-back hair and angular face, clad in his standard uniform of chinos and a button-down shirt, looks like a cross between Ted Cruz and Mister Rogers. “Since World War II, we’ve only had, like, twenty winning seasons. If you want to break ‘the curse,’ you’ve got to start winning baseball games. I think it was just years of poor management.” That was evident in ways big and small. “When we took over, half the staff was working in trailers outside Wrigley Field, and they had the better offices. There was this same legacy of underinvestment that you could see throughout the whole organization.”
The team’s front office, which decides which players to sign or draft or trade, was understaffed. Its anachronistic approach to scouting and its anemic minor-league system made sustained success impossible. In the age of sabermetrics, the team had only the barest of analytics operations. The state of the franchise was embodied by the crumbling relic of a ballpark in which the team played. I’ve passed many pleasant afternoons at Wrigley Field, a museum piece which has been nestled in the heart of Chicago’s North Side since its construction, in 1914. The antique scoreboard, operated by workers who change its numbers by hand, is a quaint throwback. The ivy-covered walls give the park a bucolic splendor. The pleasing urban tableau beyond the outfield walls is a picture postcard.
That said, the place was a dump. A few years ago, aging masonry fell from the façade, forcing the team to hang wire netting to protect the crowd in the stands below. The cramped clubhouse and scant training facilities would have been deemed unworthy by most self-respecting high-school teams. Lights were only added in 1988, and even then neighborhood concerns about the bedlam and bawdiness that night games might bring meant that the Cubs still played most days under the hot afternoon sun. “One thing I saw, from the beginning, was that you can’t have a first-class team and third-world facilities,” Ricketts told me, as we walked around the capacious, state-of-the-art weight room in Mesa and past the smoothie stand, where players order customized, vitamin-laden concoctions. “If we were going to create a winning culture, we needed to change that.”
The sprawling spring-training complex, anchored by a new ballpark, is a reflection of that change. So, too, is the Cubs’ upgraded training academy in the Dominican Republic, a crucial portal for the young, Latin American players who are so dominant in today’s game. And, after pitched battles with preservationists, neighborhood groups, politicians, and the owners of rooftop decks overlooking the stadium, an essential multi-year renovation of Wrigley is under way. Yet, for all his efforts, Ricketts knew that infrastructure alone would not transform the Cubs from lovable losers into plausible champions. For that, he would need a different and very specialized kind of architect.
“I asked two quantitative people, working separately, to study the entire league and to figure out if there was a statistical way to characterize the success of other ball clubs,” he said, recalling his search for a transformative leader. “And I had quiet conversations with twenty people in baseball I thought I could trust. At the end of every interview, I would ask, ‘In a perfect world, no contracts, who’s the best guy for the Cubs?’ And almost every one of them came up with the same name: Theo.”
The name is instantly recognizable to everyone in baseball. Theo Epstein, who grew up a mile from Boston’s Fenway Park, was only twenty-eight when he was named general manager of the Red Sox. Two years later, he became a home-town hero by helping to engineer the first Sox championship since Babe Ruth helped pitch the team to a title, in 1918. “The morning after we won, on the way in from the airport, we passed a cemetery and there were dozens of Red Sox pennants and hats on top of the gravestones,” he told me. “Grandsons and sons and daughters went and made sure they knew. It was incredibly emotional.”
Much as the Obama campaigns would later use detailed demographic data to gain new insights into how to reach voters, Epstein and company mined statistics to evaluate talent, forecast player performance, and model game strategies. It’s what led him, in his first winter as GM, to sign several players whom other teams had released, including David Ortiz, who would become one of the most luminescent Red Sox stars of all time. Gathering stats on college players going back thirty years, Epstein and his team ran regression analyses to isolate the qualities that predicted success in the pros. Armed with those findings, he drafted a succession of future stars, including the infielder Dustin Pedroia and the outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who would help lead the Sox to another title in 2007.
While in Boston, Epstein also cut a deal with a pair of scientists interested in studying the neural pathways that govern the act of hitting a baseball. They got access to his team, and he wound up with a groundbreaking new evaluation tool. “It looks like a computer game,” he said, “but is really a very nuanced algorithmic test to assess a player’s dynamic hand-eye coördination, reaction time, and inhibitory control, which is the ability for the brain to start an act and then stop it when it gets new information—like, say, laying off a breaking pitch.” Neuroscience would become a staple of the Red Sox scouting program. As an undersized high-school outfielder, Mookie Betts did so well on the algorithmic test, Epstein said, that it was one of the reasons he selected him five rounds higher than he had originally projected in the 2011 draft. Today, Betts is among the best players in the American League. He was one of eleven players drafted or signed by Epstein—four Red Sox and seven Cubs—to appear in the 2016 All-Star Game.
But, after a decade in Boston and well-publicized friction with his longtime patron, team president Larry Lucchino, over control of baseball operations, Epstein was ready to move on. Ricketts, Epstein, and others involved with the Cubs are cagey about the particulars of exactly how and when they began talking, but everyone allows that almost instantly upon getting formal permission from Boston, in October, 2011, Ricketts invited Epstein to a meeting at the family’s New York City apartment.
For Epstein, the challenge of bringing a championship to Chicago was the Mount Everest of baseball; climbing it had a gleaming allure. But, after the power struggles in Boston, he wanted reassurance that he would have the authority and tools necessary to properly scale the heights. “I was looking for that opportunity I didn’t necessarily have in Boston to take a little bit longer view,” Epstein said of his sitdown with Ricketts. “We agreed that, if it meant taking a step back at the major-league level for a few years, trading some established players for some younger, lesser-known prospects, then that’s what we would do.” For beleaguered Chicago fans still wondering if the new owners were wealthy hobbyists or savvy saviors, Epstein’s hiring was an unmistakable signal of seriousness and commitment. “Theo bought us time with the fans,” Crane Kenney, a holdover from the Tribune Company, who has stayed on to run the team’s business operations, said.
In talking to me about his years in Boston, Epstein returned again and again to the joy of collaboration and shared mission, and to his own campaign team of passionate young innovators and baseball geeks who cheerfully turned in hundred-hour weeks to make the Red Sox winners. More than a few went on to lead other major-league teams. One, Jed Hoyer, gave up a job as general manager of the San Diego Padres to reunite with Epstein as GM of the Cubs. “We talked about Chicago a lot over the years,” the forty-two-year-old Hoyer—who, like Epstein, retains the look of a wholesome frat boy—told me. “I mean, once you won it in ’04, this was the natural place to go. The idea of coming here to work with Theo, bringing the group back together to build this thing, was something I couldn’t pass up.”
Recruiting his old collaborators was important to Epstein, and not only because of their shared history, kinship, and approach. He was determined to build a consistent, disciplined, winning culture for an organization that didn’t have one. Early in his Cubs tenure, he summoned everyone in the team’s baseball operations, from the rookie league on up, to a hotel in Mesa: managers, coaches, trainers, scouts—some two hundred people in all. Together, they hammered out everything from organizational philosophy and principles to granular specifics about how every aspect of the game would be taught and how players would be developed.
“We talked for hours and hours in this dumpy hotel conference room,” Epstein said. “Everyone was invested and everyone got their say, and we came out of there on the same page about who we were as an organization.” When he said “the same page,” he meant it literally: based on the Mesa conference, Epstein compiled “The Cubs Way,” an exhaustive catalogue laying out the team’s approach. Hitters would be trained to be “selectively aggressive,” watching for particular pitches to drive. Pitchers would prepare according to a precise protocol designed to promote durability and prevent injury, prescribing when and how they should throw between games; regular stretches and exercises; and a routine, organization-wide regimen of tests on their shoulder, elbow, and hip motions. There would be no deviations. An entire chapter is devoted to “mental skills,” including a series of strategies to help players cope with stress and improve performance. Epstein added a four-member “mental-skills unit” to the Cubs coaching staff to help counsel the players, who, during spring training, were invited to start their days with sunrise meditation sessions followed by yoga.
Yet Epstein knew that all the mind-melds and kumbayas in the world would mean little if the Cubs couldn’t put a talented team on the field. In 2012, the first year of the Epstein era, the team lost a miserable hundred and one games. Through the losses, though, the Cubs began to acquire the players who would be central to their present success. One of the first was a young first baseman whom Epstein already knew well. The Red Sox had drafted Anthony Rizzo out of high school, in 2007. Months later, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “I saw his strength and character, which are incredible,” Epstein told me with almost filial pride. “Six months after he was diagnosed with cancer, he came back and hit a double off a big-league pitcher in an instructional-league game. He was just really talented. I loved his swing, loved his makeup, and, for a bigger guy, loved his sneaky kind of athleticism. And he was always a team leader.” Rizzo, who is now twenty-seven, has become one of the league’s most powerful and reliable hitters, as well as a dazzling fielder, an oak tree in the middle of the Cubs’ lineup and in their clubhouse.
Other trades would bring Addison Russell, an elegant twenty-two-year-old shortstop; Kyle Hendricks, a crafty pitcher who has emerged this year, at twenty-six, as one of the league’s best; and Jake Arrieta, who was purloined from Baltimore in exchange for a couple of journeymen players, and who has become a dominant pitcher. Arrieta was nearly unhittable for the final two months of 2015, pitching the Cubs into the playoffs and winning the National League Cy Young Award. He has thrown a no-hitter in each of the past two seasons. Other centerpieces arrived to the Cubs courtesy of the high draft picks that the team earned through its years of calculated dreadfulness. Kris Bryant, a lanky, doe-faced third baseman and outfielder, was drafted, in 2013, from the University of San Diego, though he easily could have been sent by Hollywood casting agents. Bryant hit twenty-six homers and knocked in ninety-nine runs last season to earn National League Rookie of the Year honors. He has improved this season, chasing the National League home-run title and vying, with Rizzo, for the league’s M.V.P. award.
During the initial rebuilding years, when the big-league team offered little to cheer, news of these prospects provided succor to Cubs fans. The team’s management shrewdly encouraged weary fans to bypass the Chicago box scores and focus on how the kids were tearing it up on the farm teams in Des Moines, Tennessee, and South Bend. And once it became apparent, in 2014, that the Cubs had begun to turn the corner, Ricketts and Epstein opened the checkbook for free agents to augment their homegrown talent. The pitcher Jon Lester, as a member of the Red Sox, won the deciding game in Epstein’s second trip to the World Series; he arrived to anchor the Cubs’ staff for the 2015 season, sliding into a supporting role after Arrieta emerged as the ace.
Then, last winter, the management threw open the vault for a quartet of veteran free agents. The team signed the outfielder Jason Heyward and the pitcher John Lackey from the arch rival St. Louis Cardinals; Ben Zobrist, a switch-hitting utility man who starred on last year’s champion Kansas City Royals; and, just as training camp opened, Dexter Fowler, who was the center fielder and catalytic lead-off man on last year’s Cubs team. Fowler, who is thirty, spurned a long-term deal with the Orioles to return for a one-year contract worth millions less. His surprise decision created pandemonium; players and coaches tackled him in a raucous group hug at spring training. “These are my boys,” he told me in March, motioning around the clubhouse at his teammates, who were getting dressed at their stalls or chatting in small clutches. “And I feel like we have some unfinished business.”
Five years after Ricketts and Epstein promised Chicago a winner, the Cubs were ready to make their move. “They put this together in a really smart way, and they sold it in a really smart way,” Bruce Levine, a Chicago radio sportscaster who has covered the team through decades of near-misses and frequent follies, said. “The kids started coming up, and they could play. But the final ingredient was Joe.”
I met Joe Maddon for dinner at a steakhouse in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, on a rare day off from spring training. With his silver hair, square jaw, and black-rimmed glasses, Maddon looks like Clark Kent would at sixty-two. An aficionado of vintage cars, he pulled up in his 1976 Dodge van, cigar brown with gold detailing and a Western landscape painted on the side. The interior is lined with orange shag carpet, and the seats have ostrich-leather trim. (Maddon calls it his “shaggin’ wagon.” He also drives a 1972 Chevelle with the logo of the 1908 Cubs embroidered on blue carpeting inside the trunk.) It was the same van that Maddon had driven onto the field in the early weeks of training camp, emerging in a tie-dye shirt and stars-and-stripes headband, his custom speakers blaring the inspirational sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Shining Star.” Maddon is more than a manager. He’s a show.
During his first season with the Cubs, in 2015, he brought a magician into the clubhouse to entertain the team before a game after it had lost five in a row. The team promptly won. On an overnight flight after a long West Coast trip, he organized a “onesie” party, in which the entire team, including the manager and coaches, dressed in one-piece pajamas. During the dog days of August, Maddon locked the Cubs out of their clubhouse until four hours before games, to encourage players to get their minds off baseball by spending time with family and friends.
Growing up in Hazleton, a working-class town in northeast Pennsylvania, Maddon starred in several sports and went on scholarship to nearby Lafayette College, where he played quarterback on the football team. During a scrimmage his freshman year, he heard the crack of bats on a nearby field where fall baseball practice had begun, and he knew that was where he wanted to be. “I’ve always loved baseball,” he told me a few days after our dinner, leaning on a bat on the practice field. “The smell of the ball, the cut grass. The idea that you go through winter and spring comes, and here we go. It just brings you alive again.”
After college, Maddon, a catcher, signed a minor-league contract with the California Angels and had four years of modest success, but never recorded a major-league at-bat. In all, he spent thirty years with the Angels organization as a player, scout, instructor, and finally, major-league coach. He says that those years helped prepare him for the day when, at the age of fifty-two, he finally got a shot to manage in the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays. “I spent fourteen of those years coaching and managing in the minors, making a lot of mistakes and learning from them,” he said. Warm, funny, and disarmingly candid, Maddon has a genius for reaching young players. “Joe Maddon could make you feel good about a foul ball,” Ken Ravizza, a sports psychologist and Cubs consultant, and Maddon’s friend of thirty years, told me. With Tampa Bay, Maddon transformed a young, low-budget team into perennial contenders. During his tenure there, the Rays made four playoff appearances and once reached the World Series. In 2003, Epstein passed on hiring Maddon for the Red Sox, concluding that his offbeat style might not click with a veteran team. But when a loophole in Maddon’s contract with the Rays made him available after the 2014 season, the Cubs leapt. “It was a game changer,” Epstein said.
In his first year in the Cubs dugout, Maddon more than lived up to his extravagant billing, taking a team with four rookies in the starting lineup to the National League Championship Series. He was named Manager of the Year, as he had been twice before, with Tampa. “Joe understands us as players,” Rizzo said, offering what seemed to be a universal sentiment in the Cubs clubhouse. “He understands that this is a really long season, you know. So he keeps it really loose and really easy for us to just come in and be ourselves and play.” While I was there one morning, the team pulled an electric keyboard outside and beckoned a slightly uneasy Rizzo, who had been taking piano lessons, to show what he had learned. With a few of his bemused teammates joining in, he belted out something that resembled the hit song “Hello,” by Adele, even if Rizzo sounded nothing like the British chanteuse. Joe’s Circus is never dull.
Around baseball, though, Maddon is known as much for his strategic savvy as his showmanship. From the first pitch of a game, he stands in rapt attention on his perch in the corner of the dugout, eyes fixed on the action. As the game goes on, he’ll consult the color-coded sheets supplied by the analytics unit—“my nerds,” he calls them—which highlight favorable matchups and alert him to perilous ones. Still, he doesn’t hesitate to override them. “He’s one of the few who has a good mix of the new and the old; the sabermetrics stuff and the traditional baseball,” the veteran catcher David Ross said.
More than any manager, Maddon shifts his lineups from day to day, using the entire roster, moving his versatile players up and down the batting order and playing them at different positions—sometimes within the same game—to produce the matchups that he and his nerds consider most favorable. In an extra-inning game this summer in Cincinnati, Maddon had exhausted his bench and most of his bullpen, so he took to shuttling relief pitchers, a lefty and a righty, between the mound and left field, depending on who was batting for the Reds, allowing him to keep both pitchers in the game. That gamble paid off in the fifteenth inning, when the Cubs rallied for five runs to win. A few weeks later, in another extra-inning affair, this time against Seattle, Maddon sent Lester, a fine pitcher but one of the worst batters in baseball history, to pinch-hit, with a man on third and the game on the line. With two strikes against him, Lester laid down a perfect bunt as the winning run came scampering home, setting off pandemonium at Wrigley. “Joe’s chill and he’s laid-back, but he’s intense—don’t get me wrong on that,” Chris Bosio, the Cubs pitching coach, told me. “Underneath those sunglasses, he’s two, three, four steps ahead. He’s got numbers and ideas for everything.”
Last season, the Cubs snuck up on the rest of the league with a rush in the final two months. This season, everyone has been chasing them from the start. But Maddon has his club ready for the gauntlet. “Everybody wants to win, but, if all you think about is winning and losing, you get tight,” he told me. “But process is fearless. Just focus on what you have to do. Play the game properly, and the rest will take care of itself.” To underscore that point with his players, Maddon, in spring training, handed out T-shirts bearing such aphorisms as “Do Simple Better” and “Try Not to Suck.”
The Cubs started off scorching hot, slumped badly in June, but came out smoking again after the All-Star break. By Labor Day, they led the Cardinals by sixteen and a half games and had all but clinched the Central Division. In July, Epstein reached into his accumulated treasure trove of prospects, trading with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman, a fearsome game-closing relief pitcher whose hundred-and-five-mile-per-hour fastball is a spectacle unto itself. Given Epstein’s emphasis on character and Chapman’s early-season suspension for domestic violence, the move provoked some anger and raised eyebrows. But it was also a sign that the Cubs believe that their time is now.
Even Epstein acknowledges, however, that all of this—the awesome assemblage of talent and the palpable team chemistry, the New Age innovations and the wily manager—guarantees nothing. In October, when the playoffs begin, the surviving teams will start over, and luck will play a heavy hand. Still, as the 2016 campaign heads into the final stretch, the Cubs are hearing neither the footsteps of pursuing teams nor the hoofbeats of the Billy Goat. “Everybody wants to talk about the curse and how we haven’t done it since 1908, but who cares?” Arrieta told me. “We have the opportunity to be the team that breaks it. And why wouldn’t you want that opportunity? Who wouldn’t want to be in Chicago right now?” Ω
[David Axlerod is the Director of the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics. Axelrod is a veteran of US politics and journalism and the former chief strategist (2008 and 2012) and senior advisor (2009-2011) to President Barack Obama. He currently serves as director of the University of Chicago's non-partisan Institute of Politics; senior political commentator for CNN; and host of The Axe Files, a top-rated podcast jointly produced by CNN and the Institute of Politics. He has written a memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics (2015). Axelrod received an AB (political science) from the University of Chicago.]
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