There are those kind of people that you’d like to invite over for a BBQ have a few drinks and listen to their stories till the birds start their chatter in the early morning. Joe Maddon is one of those folks on my bucket list of invites to come over for that BBQ. Yesterday, the Cubs helped him achieve that 1000 win milestone in their 9-5 dismantling of division rivals Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs looked like the Cubs and the bats were in full home run mode as Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber each contributed large in honouring their manager’s big accomplishment.
“To the players who have been a part of this, I want to say, ‘Thank you,'” Maddon said. “You don’t do it without the players.”
The weather and the mood was both right for the win. Wrigley Field with the wind blowing out was all it took. A thought occurred to me during last night’s game. Is the Cubs uneven spring due to the kid’s nervousness of just winning a championship? It could be just that and as the summer moves on, it’ll sort itself out.
Then there’s Ian Happ. The kid with the old school style name. He sounds like a call up that would have fit nicely in the 1908 World Series team. His home run last night was his second home run in just three games.
“Two walks and two strikeouts today,” Happ said. “Can still get better, but for me, being disciplined, swinging at strikes … is part of my game, especially in that situation — with Wrigley bumping like that.”
So yesterday the Cubs played like they were defending champions. The good news is that they’re finding their ground. Kyle Schwarber is hitting again and Willson Contreras has been incredible this season. However, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a hint of worry in the minds of those guys who sit in the back offices or sipping craft beer from the suites.
“There’s no panic, but there’s also a lot of guys in there who care about playing up to our capabilities, which is one of the reasons I have so much trust in this group and a lot of confidence that we’ll get it straightened out,” Epstein said.
He’s right. There’s no need to panic. I look at it this way, Cubs fans are used to losing. So, while the Cubs are going through their growing pains, us fans can relax a bit knowing that there’s been a lot of years between championships. This is the year that there’s no “Always next year” Judging from last night’s victory, I agree with Epstein. Things will be ok.
“That’s not going to last at all,” Epstein said of the club’s slump at the plate. “We have a ton of supremely talented offensive players, and they’ll reach their level by the end of the year and the back of their baseball card will look like they always do.”
Perhaps I’ll fire up the grill just in case Joe drops by.