Tomorrow is the final spring training tuneup for the Chicago Cubs. We know the Cubs are expected to have a season like no other. Last season’s trip to the NLCS was nothing short of extraordinary. They beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and they pummelled the St. Louis Cardinals but the question on everyone’s mind is–
Can they do it again?
“Last year, I don’t think anyone really had a good sense of what to expect from the season,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Theo and I, I think we were excited to bring Joe in. We’d signed some free agents. Our young players were getting closer. But we didn’t have a really good sense of what to expect. This year, I think we do.”
It’s fitting then that the Cubs start the season Monday against the Los Angeles Angels. if the Cubs are to have a heavenly season, then it all starts in Los Angeles.
Here’s how the season will go down.
Joe Maddon is one of the best in the game today. If not the best.He was rewarded with the Manager of The Year an award he richly deserved. His on the field decisions and ability to keep things grooving along whether it be a zoo or a magician during practice, the guy makes players and fans feel at ease. Hell, I want to buy Joe a round. Next time you’re in Toronto!
So, the players know that this season is going to be a special one indeed. Jake Arrieta is the reigning Cy Young winner and Kris Bryant will follow up his Rookie of The Year campaign and try and make it better. Although it’s an award he’ll never win again, he’s got bigger and brighter things ahead.
“I don’t want any of the guys to take it for granted because where we got last year is special,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “Not many guys can actually enjoy that. … I don’t want them to feel like it was easy to get to that point. This year’s going to be challenging for all of them.”
“You can always make an adjustment,” Maddon said. “Whatever you do the first couple of days, you might see something differently or like better, you just do it. There are nice choices.”
That’s the big difference the Cubs have this season that they didn’t necessarily have in other years.
If the Cubs can keep their strikeouts down, then they’ll be in good shape. They led the league with 1518 strikeouts compared to 973 by the Kansas City Royals who went on to win the World Series. That is the benchmark the Cubs need to beat if they want to win.
“We’re holding each other accountable,” Bryant said. “I think a lot of that comes back to how we ended last year. We didn’t end the way we wanted it to end, and this year, we’re going to do all we can to go even further. … I’ve never been around an atmosphere like this. It’s exciting.”
You don’t know the half of it.
“Ray. People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around”, you’ll say, “It’s only $20 per person”. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
James Earl Jones “Terrance Mann” –Field of Dreams