Cubs Speak: Rizzo, Ross, Epstein, Maddon, Zobrist, Contreras, Bryant Discuss Win

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Cubs Speak: Rizzo, Ross, Epstein, Maddon, Zobrist, Contreras, Bryant Discuss Win

Chicago Cubs News

cubs 1984 logoLast night was, well, unbelievable.

After the game, I commented that this is what true speechlessness feels like, because while you always hold out hope for a ridiculous ninth inning comeback, it’s just not statistically likely to occur.

And although I try not to marry my Cubs fandom to the statistical knowledge I hold of the game, it’s an inevitable part of our lives (well, when they’re losing, that is) and it’s difficult to ignore.

But these Cubs really did something special last night. They gave us that memory. That memory we’ve been chasing in a season where wins seemed to drop from the sky. That memory after teasing the crazy, clinching, comeback the night before. That memory of the 2016 NLDS that could ultimately lead to bigger and better things.

Last night’s win was huge, my friends, don’t let that slip passed you.

The Cubs won’t, and you can hear it straight from their mouths. After the game, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports caught up with a number of key Cubs personnel – Anthony Rizzo, David Ross, Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon, Ben Zobrist, Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant – to discuss the win and their thoughts of moving forward. I’ve collected the interviews for you below, with some thoughts of my own.

Enjoy. [Brett: Also, a general note, Ken Rosenthal is excellent. One of the best.]

First up is Anthony Rizzo, who originally thought Game 1 of this very series was the best win he’d been a part of … until last night. But happy as he is, Rizzo doesn’t linger on the feeling for too long. He’s already excited that the Cubs will now be able to properly align their rotation for the NLCS, while the Dodgers and Nationals are forced to use Max Scherzer and Rich Hill in tomorrow’s Game 5. While the Cubs still may see either of them twice (plus Clayton Kershaw) in a seven game series, it might not ever get to that point.

After, veteran David Ross stepped in and discussed how exhausted he is (oh, Grandpa) after back-to-back grinders, and how impressed he is with the young guys on this team. Although it may feel funny to carry the same narrative as last season (young guys, etc.), it’s important to remember that each of Jorge Soler, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Kyle Hendricks, and Carl Edwards Jr. are in either their rookie or second full MLB season. That’s pretty atypical, to say the least.

Moving away from the players for a moment, Rosenthal met up with an ecstatic Theo Epstein, who is … let’s just say … relieved to not face Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner (in relief) in a Game 5 at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. Other than that, he discussed the importance of the playoff experience from last season, expected improvements from Addison Russell, and much more. Respectably, Epstein gave credit to former Cubs GM Jim Hendry for bringing each of Javy Baez and Willson Contreras into the organization. Obviously, both were instrumental in the Cubs win.

Next up is Joe Maddon, who discussed his offensive substitutions in the ninth inning, specifically the decision to pinch-hit Chris Coghlan for Addison Russell and Willson Contreras for Chris Coghlan. While he was tentatively expecting the Giants to intentionally walk Contreras to load the bases for Heyward, they didn’t and the rest is history. Listening to him talk about his plans, had the game progressed further is pretty fascinating, too – like, for example, the potential for Ben Zobrist to wind up at shortstop, if they had to pinch-hit for Javy Baez.

Before they hit the clubhouse, Rosenthal caught up with a couple of guys, including veteran Ben Zobrist, who discussed, among many things, the momentum the Giants had developed in Games 3 and 4. The developing trend, it seems, is that the Cubs were quite happy to avoid a Game 5.

Willson Contreras discussed his approach at the plate in the ninth inning, with a heavy focus on keeping calm, looking for his pitch, and not trying to do too much. It’s difficult for me to emphasize how impressive these young athletes are in terms of baseball acumen, because their poise and balance is representative of veterans like Ben Zobrist or Jon Lester. The urge to be the guy must be so entirely overwhelming that his ability to ignore it and just be himself has to be considered a legitimate skill.

Lastly, Rosenthal met up with the expected 2016 NL MVP, Kris Bryant. Bryant had a very nice couple games at the plate (4-9, 2B, HR, BB) after starting the series off quietly in the first two games. Bryant was part of the rolling comeback in the 9th, leading the inning off with a single. Touching on a number of topics, Bryant agreed (with Rizzo) that last night’s game was the best he’s been a part of, and that Contreras and Baez don’t surprise him.

All in all, the interviews above provide an excellent, comprehensive coverage of the organizational reaction to a surprising, enormous Chicago Cubs victory. Enjoy every moment of this, Cubs fans. We just saw something special.


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.