The Time the Cubs' Front Office Tried to Get Too Cute, and How It Turned Out Incredibly

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The Time the Cubs’ Front Office Tried to Get Too Cute, and How It Turned Out Incredibly

Chicago Cubs

theo epstein press conference speaks

You’re not sick of Cubs World Series and regular season anecdotes, are you?

Neither are we.

After the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, every story, every twist, and every turn from the 2016 season has become part of history.

The postseason narratives are unquestionably the highlights, but there were still a number of memorable moments (and backstories) with which we’ve only recently become aware.

At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan retells the fateful story of Game 7 at Progressive Field, including some additional quotes and stories from Cubs President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer. But he also rewinds the clock a bit, retreating to some of the better moments and personal discussions between the two Cubs executives from the rest of the year.

You can check out the piece here, and you definitely should.

One of my favorite bits from Passan’s article is a story about Epstein, Hoyer, Brian Matusz, and taking responsibility for doing a little bit too much in the middle of the season:

Exactly three months before Halloween, Theo Epstein was so pissed off at himself he started to bang on street signs. It was July 31, the day before the trade deadline, and the St. Louis Cardinals were threatening to winnow the Cubs’ National League Central division lead, once 12½ games, to 5½. And Epstein thought it was all his fault.

A left-hander named Brian Matusz, like Arrieta a former Baltimore pitching prospect, started for the Cubs that night. Chicago was trying to build organizational depth and figured Matusz a safe risk, especially after he had pitched well at Triple-A. Matusz allowed a two-run homer in the first, second and third innings, and Epstein, hunkered down for days in trade talks, needed some fresh air. He and Hoyer decided to take a walk. They ended up going for miles – talking, self-flagellating and whacking signs out of frustration. Never again would he do this, put at risk the dynamic of the clubhouse Maddon spent so long building for a flight of fancy.

“I felt like I had personally cost the team a game in the pennant race,” Epstein said.

“He took it personally,” Hoyer said.

“I took it very personally,” Epstein said.

“We were too cute about it,” Hoyer said.

“We overthought it,” Epstein said.

The story continues from there. And, of course, if you remember the rest of that game – how could you forget?! – you’ll know that the Cubs came back to score three runs in the ninth inning to tie the Seattle Mariners, held them scoreless for three innings after that, and ultimately won on the now-famous walk-off squeeze bunt by Jon Lester in the bottom of the 12th.

What looked like one of the front office’s worst moves of 2016, ultimately turned into the most memorable regular season win of the the Cubs’ most memorable season. I’m not necessarily one to subscribe to “fate,” but the Cubs sure seemed to have a lot of it this year.

Check out Passan’s article for a number of other fun stories from 2016. It’s a long read, but an excellent one. And hey, it’s Sunday. Relax a bit.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami