Must-Read on Creating Chicago Cubs Chemistry

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Must-Read on Creating Chicago Cubs Chemistry

Chicago Cubs

Before the season, Michael wrote about one of his big wishes for this year: he just wanted the Cubs to be relevant in the national conversation again. I knew exactly what he meant, and felt the same way. We want the Cubs to be competitive, too, of course! But it would be nice if the Cubs were getting some attention, and we could enjoy talking about them as part of the broader baseball conversation. It’s more fun when the Cubs are relevant in that way.

And WHEN they are relevant in that way, they get long profile pieces like the one Ken Rosenthal wrote today at The Athletic:

“Good vibes” can be overstated in these situations, or can simply be the byproduct of a team that is already very talented and winning a lot of games because of that talent. So I don’t want to go too far, and Rosenthal is careful not to go too far either.

BUT, I will say this. The Cubs’ front office said repeatedly that they were overemphasizing character in their recent acquisitions and the construction of their roster, and I have heard them say explicitly that it’s a great sign when guys on the team are wanting to hang out with each other socially. It’s a sign that guys are getting along, feeling positive, and caring about each other’s success. That might be valuable only at the margins, but it can help – however slightly – in boosting preparation, focus, and team-oriented contributions.

Much of this group has apparently been hanging out socially going back to the Cubs Convention in January, and it hasn’t stopped. Jameson Taillon told Rosenthal that he heard someone say the Cubs have already have three or four team dinners, which is three or four more than they had all of last year.

The relationship-building matters. Among the quotes from the piece:

“If I go to dinner with a bunch of guys and we have a good relationship and hang out every night, I’m comfortable going up to Justin Steele and saying, ‘Hey dude, I watched your bullpen today and I saw this, this and that.’ If you don’t have the next-level relationship, I wouldn’t be able to do that,” Taillon said ….

“People care about other people more than themselves. In successful places, that’s what you need,” Swanson said. “The Vanderbilt football coach (Clark Lea) texted me, asking me the one thing that stands out from what I learned at Vandy. I sent him a couple of things. But one of ‘em was servant leadership. Do more for others than yourself. If you think about the most impactful people in your life, they were the most giving, the most serving. If that was the most impactful person to you, then why wouldn’t you do the same?” ….

“It’s a huge part, especially with the ups and downs you go through,” said (Cubs first base coach Mike) Napoli, the three-time World Series participant. “When people are struggling and you know someone has your back. … It’s always better hearing it from a teammate than a coach. It just comes different. The closer you are in that clubhouse, it just takes care of a lot of stuff.”

There’s so much more in the piece, which will make you feel good about where things stand with the Cubs. Give it a read. Maybe they won’t stay at this pace all year, but it continues to be a team that I’m really enjoying rooting for. And they’re enjoying rooting for each other.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.