INDIANAPOLIS – The work days right now come to a close around 9:00 p.m.
After daily, 13-hour sessions of draft meetings, Chris Ballard heads home where the learning does not stop.
When Ballard gets home at night, he takes out his iPhone, opens up the iBooks application and starts reading a book he finds particularly hard to put down.
The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse
The story, told by long-time baseball writer Tom Verducci, details the construction of the Chicago Cubs, who captured the World Series last year, ending the longest championship drought in professional sports.
From Theo Epstein (the Cubs' President of Baseball Operations) to Joe Maddon (Cubs Manager), Ballard is soaking in how the 108-year championship curse ended in thrilling fashion last fall.
"Really interesting to read about character," Ballard said of a main takeaway he's gotten from his nightly reading. Baseball was getting flat in terms of the analytics and the edge that they were getting from the numbers. So (Epstein) kind of took a different approach with character."
The evolution of establishing a culture is something Ballard spoke about at his introductory press conference.
Reading The Cubs Way has only reaffirmed Ballard's belief.
"We want high character guys that love football, that will hold each other accountable, that will be good teammates," Ballard says.
"Look at the teams that win in this league (the NFL). It's culture. Culture wins. It absolutely wins. Football is the greatest team sport. It really is, because guys want to have individual success, but they can't have individual success without their teammates. They can't do it. Not in this sport. It's too hard."
As Ballard approaches his first ever draft as a general manager, he finds himself thinking back to his night-time reading.
Epstein's affinity for culture and Maddon's easy-going nature for enjoying the moment is on Ballard's mind.
"Maddon has a great quote when he says, 'Don't let the pressure exceed the pleasure of the job.' I thought that that said it all," Ballard said referencing this week's draft.
"This is what I've done for 16 years – really even going back to (Texas) A&I when I was in Kingsville bringing in players, this is what I've done, this is what I know. It's an exciting time. It's exciting, really cool, really cool to be able to do it."
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