I’m really excited, and also really nervous, of course. The postseason does that. It’s normal. But obviously not everything is normal, because I’m not in Chicago. I’m not getting ready to go to a bar to have some pre-game beers with friends, and then I won’t be heading to the bleachers. That’s always going to be part of the 2020 story for the Cubs and every other MLB team, even the one that finds itself holding the trophy, at a safe distance, from the guy operating the camera to show the fans at the victory celebration.
To that end, even as we won’t be there, these are the final games at Wrigley Field this season. I’ll drink that part in, and then hopefully get to experience the weirdness of the Cubs heading to an NLDS series in a Texas bubble.
• In the meantime, the dream scenario is not only that the Cubs win today and tomorrow, but is also that every other NL series splits their first two games. Then, I get to enjoy today and tomorrow, and ALSO get to chill on Friday watching nothing but elimination games.
• We’ll get the Cubs’ official roster for this series very soon, and I don’t expect any huge surprises. But then, if I expected surprises, they wouldn’t be much of a surprise now would they?
• A great read on a guy who has been around forever, but took time to evolve into one of the clear clubhouse leaders:
Behind-the-scenes story of how Anthony Rizzo took charge in the clubhouse and led the Cubs back into October for one more playoff run: https://t.co/QNwPrYsDqd
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) September 30, 2020
• That piece is loaded with gold about Rizzo’s evolution and his importance in how the Cubs have handled this season. A section that stood out:
“I’m proud of everyone just buying in,” Rizzo said. “In this game, it’s so numbers-oriented, and this 60-game season is not. It’s so easy as a baseball player to get caught up in your own BS and your own numbers. This isn’t the year to do that.”
Rizzo sensed that anxiety and held an impromptu pregame meeting with Bryant, Báez and Schwarber on Sept. 15 inside the Wrigley Field clubhouse. Two weeks before the playoffs started, Rizzo wanted to remind Bryant that he could carry the team if he got hot. If two or three hitters suddenly clicked, watch out, the Cubs would be rolling through October, Rizzo believed.
This mythical idea of the in-your-face leader — which doesn’t fit Rizzo’s personality anyway — is disappearing from the locker room. Positive reinforcement is more effective today than instilling a sense of fear.
“It’s just realizing that being more mindful of what you say and how you say it and how you deliver your message is really big for everyone,” Rizzo said. “When guys know it’s coming from the right place and coming from the heart — it’s a transition in this game that has happened. It’s not the call someone out in front of the whole team anymore. Like my first couple years, that’s how you would be called out. You just learn more and more now that’s not really the way to do it as much anymore because guys will crawl into a hole and lose your trust.”
• By the way, since that September 15 meeting organized by Rizzo? He himself hit .297/.422/.514 with a 147 wRC+.
• The situation is modestly complicated for a variety of contractual, age, and pandemic reasons, but the Cubs need to find a way to keep Rizzo here as long as he wants to be.
• Apropos of my lovefest yesterday for Billy Hamilton’s unique skills, David Ross is a big fan:
“You see how he affects the game when he’s on base,” David Ross said. “He affects it just being on first. He’s a real threat and a real impact for this club.”
On Billy Hamilton, a Cubs postseason weapon:https://t.co/yAcNyaHs35
— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) September 28, 2020
• Bryan having some fun:
Dude that took a demotion and became a star. More than ever: the captain. An awesome pitch framer and bat flipper. Hulk Like Playoffs. A MVP with magical chainz. The season’s wildest breakout. A magic man. A dude from Northbrook. A guy Bert loves.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) September 30, 2020
• YouTube TV didn’t pick up Marquee Sports Network this year, so there’s no direct impact here, but it’s a reminder that YouTube still has a fractious relationship with regional sports networks: they’re dropping the Fox RSNs again tomorrow. I wonder if they’ll be back in time for MLB/NBA next year, and whether Marquee will get a deal done at that time.
• You can create your own highlight packages at the Cubs Film Room, like this one of some of the oddities from the season:
The 2020 season was a very 2020 season.
Help commemorate our division title by creating your own top 5 Cubs moments! Go to https://t.co/Mn0kBV7ey7, pick a theme and create a reel. Tweet it using #CubsFilmRoom for a chance to be featured on @WatchMarquee!https://t.co/h4QpW6N6cd
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 28, 2020
• The BIG FALL SALE is going on at Amazon is you want to check out a whole lot of discounts. #ad