INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard knows he needs sleep. The problem is he can’t put his smartphone down at night. No matter how heavy his eyes are after another 14-hour day at the team’s facility, Ballard struggles to turn off the device, put it down on his nightstand, and doze off.
Ballard wants to be the best at his job. That’s why his eyes are fixated on his phone screen before going to sleep. Ballard is reading “The Cubs Way,” a book about how Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein helped turn a franchise that hadn’t won a World Series in 108 years into the World Series champion in 2016.
“I’m a big nighttime reader,” Ballard said. “Unfortunately, it cuts into my sleep. Because then, you know, when you get into a book and you can’t — you just keep reading and going. And I’m a big phone [reader], which is probably why my eyes aren’t good. So I got the iBooks on my phone, so I do a lot of reading on my phone. But it’s at night.”
The Colts are nowhere near the position the Cubs were in when Epstein came over from the Boston Red Sox in 2011; Chicago had recorded consecutive losing seasons and would drop 101 games in Epstein’s first year in the front office.
Ballard was hired in late January. Indianapolis is coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons, missing the playoffs in each. Unlike the previous regime, Ballard no longer wants the weight of the organization to be strictly on quarterback Andrew Luck‘s right arm. The general manager wants a balanced team where all the parts fit together, and he faces the challenge of reshaping the Colts’ roster.
This won’t be an easy task for someone who is a general manager for the first time in his 16-year career in NFL front offices. Jim Irsay, one of the most outspoken owners in the league when it comes to winning, called Ballard the “best candidate for general manager.”