For whatever reason, some folks still have trouble accepting that the Chicago Cubs’ frequent day games – which are a great thing for a number of reasons – put them at a disadvantage over the course of a season. Players in recent years finally admitted that the constant readjustment of their body clocks is a strain that opponents have to do, at most, just once or twice during the week in a given season. Cubs players have to do it again and again.
Still, some won’t buy it, and call the day game problem a mere excuse.
Shrug. I “buy it,” but I also recognize that day games are special – even sacred – and I’m not necessarily pushing for the Cubs to do away with them entirely. But they’ll have to continue to do things at an institutional level to address the competitive disadvantage that comes along with day games. And, even if you don’t buy the body clock problem, you can probably understand one problem that inarguably comes along with a day-time schedule: the temptation to party at night.
I’m not excusing late night shenanigans, mind you. I’m simply stating that it’s understandable that young men, with a lot of money, in a big city, and with a free night, would go out. The problem, of course, is that those young men have to play baseball the next day (instead of, for example, sitting head down at a desk sipping water and trying to look busy/lucid).
Well, the Cubs, from the top down, are trying to do something about the issue. Namely, the late night partying is going to be a serious no-go. From the Tribune:
“It’s been a factor in ruining some careers,” [Theo Epstein said of players staying out rather than getting a good night's sleep]. “And I’m sure it’s been an impediment to the Cubs in winning. … The approach we’re going to have is the opposite of laissez faire. We’re not just going to say, ‘Oh, that’s the way it is. This is Chicago. Boys will be boys. I’m sure they’re going to get enough sleep and I’m sure they’ll show up the next day ready to play.’
“That’s a failure on the organization’s part. We have to take a very proactive approach in setting a high standard.”
The “Cubs Way” of doing things on the field has been compiled in a pamphlet and eventually will be distributed to every player in the organization. But the Cubs’ way of addressing off-the-field behavior is a little trickier, since there’s no way to police employees away from the ballpark.
The new Cubs brass hopes common sense prevails, but that’s easier said than done. Young players getting their first taste of fame may be prone to staying out late, especially in a city like Chicago where there’s plenty to do and 4 a.m. liquor licenses.
It’s yet another small, simple, and yet so-obviously-necessary change. If the Cubs truly take this approach, don’t be surprised if, from time to time, you see someone having a seat on a day when you didn’t otherwise expect it. Over time, this kind of policy could even lead to a surprise trade or release. Obviously, that would be the extreme.
No one wants to say that Cubs player can’t have fun. But there are limits, and there is an appropriate time for varying levels of “fun.” When it impacts job performance, the Cubs are going to draw a line. I dig that.
And it’s not just because a fuddy-duddy for whom 10pm is a late night out…