Hot Off the Presses: The November issue recaps the Cubs dominant rotation
By Gary Cohen
Make no mistake: These are not your grandfather’s Chicago Cubs. The franchise’s fans, like the fans of every team, are saddled with years of baggage and love to link the past with the present. But for the last two seasons, these Cubs have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that 2003 and 1969 have nothing to do with the present.
“Nobody really cares in there about a curse or a goat or anything else. You know what I mean?” said Jon Lester prior to Game 4 of the National League Division Series. “It is what it is. It’s what you make of it. If we make a mistake, we’re not going to blame it on a curse or anything else like that. We’re going to blame it on ourselves and be accountable for it and move on to the next play or the next moment.
“Plus, I think we got too many young guys in there that don’t even know what that stuff is. You know what I mean? So it’s almost better to play naive and just go out and worry about us, worry about the Cubs and not anything else in the past or, like I said, any animals.”
Full disclosure: Because of the production schedule of this magazine, we went to press just days after the Cubs finished off the Giants in four games in the NLDS. So whatever happens after that will show up in the December issue.
When Cubs players gather on the field or in the clubhouse to celebrate wins, they often chant, “We never quit.” Along with favored Maddonisms like “embrace the target” and “respect 90,” never quitting is becoming the motto of this new iteration of the franchise. The club came into the 2016 campaign as heavy World Series favorites, but, as Maddon would say, they never let the pressure exceed the pleasure in their run to an NL Central title.
“Expectations is a good word because normally it means that you have something good attached to it at the other side,” Maddon said after the Cubs’ NLDS victory. “Pressure, expectations, I want our guys to thrive on those two words for the years to come. I want the organization to. In the end, that means there’s a lot expected of you. Good. There should be. We should all have a lot expected of us. And then it should manifest itself in the sense that it should bring out the best in you.”
Of course, past Chicago teams have struggled in October, and the postseason is decidedly random. The second you think you have things figured out, a virtual unknown like Conor Gillaspie steps up and becomes a fall hero twice over. But this version of the Cubs is different. No one expected much in 1984 or 2003. The current Cubs, on the other hand, are the very definition of president Theo Epstein’s model of sustained success, and, as of this writing, are sitting on the precipice of Game 7 of the World Series.
In the November issue, we break down a few reasons the 2016 Cubs were a juggernaut. We begin at the top with the starting pitching, which was not only good this season, but historically good. We also look at some of the amazing numbers the club posted and how they defined the campaign. Finally, we talk to former GM Jim Hendry about the organization’s last deep playoff run in 2003.
This season, we’re writing a new Cubs history. I don’t know how it will end yet. We don’t have much longer to wait. But I know we’re all enjoying the ride.
Let’s go. And above all, Fly the W.