It was the Catch Heard Around The League yesterday and Cubs’ shortstop Addison Russell deserved all of the accolades bestowed upon him. It was a great catch and a thrilling way to end the ballgame and secure the 5-4 win over the Cardinals.
“If you put a clock on him, he’s not going to be the fastest guy on the team — not nearly the fastest guy on the team,” Joe Maddon said. “But when it comes to quick lateral movements, he’s among the best I’ve seen in awhile.”
And Addison isn’t the only player who is gaining a lot of attention. Kris Bryant walloped his 25th home run of the season just after Jorge Soler connected on a score crusher. With the home run, Bryant ties the Cubs rookie record set by Sweet Swinging’ Billy Williams in 1961.
“Since Bryant came out on the other side from the midseason when he had a little bit of a struggle, he’s been outstanding,” Maddon said. “How about his defense today, too? Great defense, wonderful hitting, one of the best baserunners in the National League already. Effort level can’t be any better than it is. He is the Rookie of the Year.”
Both teams played like the playoffs were here. Joe Maddon was tossed after Hector Rondon was ejected after a wild pitch. Both clubs were warned about the tension.
So now the Cubs are sitting one game back of Pittsburgh for the first Wild Card spot. The Pirates won narrowly over the Dodgers last night, keeping the gap between the Cubs open.
What is the secret behind the Cubs success? It could be the players, actually it’s definitely the players, but one thing I’ve noticed this season more than all the years I’ve watched baseball is just how important the manager is. Joe Maddon has earned every cent the Cubs are paying him. In a sports world made up of high priced salaries, it’s refreshing to see managers like Maddon come out to the park and enjoy his chosen profession. He doesn’t whine, he has the humour and he’s humble.
“Maddon has had my back the whole year, all the way back into Spring Training,” Kris Bryant said. “He’s just an awesome guy to play for. I’ve learned so much, I’ve had a blast with him, and to hear that from him and to hear that he believes in me that much, it’s just a really cool thing.”