The Cubs haven’t won a spring game yet, the record is 0-2-1 at this point…I hope that doesn’t disappoint you, because as a famous Cubs fan once said in the movie Meatballs – “You must be the short depressed kid we ordered.” Sorry, that was the wrong line, it was – “It just doesn’t matter, it just doesn’t matter.” Can we all chant that together! As I’ve stated time and again over the years here, spring training records do not correlate to regular season success.
Now, I know that Joe Maddon wants to win every game, heck as a fan, so do I, but spring training doesn’t work that way. When you switch pitchers nearly every inning, like the Cubs did yesterday against the Reds, (only Jon Lester went 2 innings), and you switch out the entire defense to minor leaguers after the 5th inning or so, can you really expect to control the outcome? Unlikely. I’m guessing that most of you who read this blog know all this, but it’s early in the spring, so I wanted to get the win/loss disclaimer out of the way.
What is important to me is the mental makeup of a ballclub, and that mindset is developed throughout the spring, and extends into the regular season. Sure, the Manager must lead, but it’s the veteran players in the clubhouse that provide examples for younger players to follow. Which brings me to the Cubs key player acquisition this off season – Jon Lester, a pitcher who has been successful in the World Series, and doesn’t like to lose. Lester outlines some of his feelings on winning and losing in this article.
In the article Lester says: “Each year they should want to come in here and expect to be not only division winners, but World Series champions. If you don’t have that mind-set, I think you’re playing for the wrong reasons.” So there it is, the mind-set of a proven winner – and I love it!
Forget the lovable losers, the cute and cuddly Cubbies, this team needs a new hard-edged mind-set. A few years back Lou Piniella tried to build a Cubs “swagger”, but he didn’t have the real foundation and underpinnings that it took to get the job done on a year in, year out basis. The Ricketts family by bringing in team Theo, and expending their resources, have launched a paradigm shift in the organization, one that I feel is going to change the entire future of the Chicago Cubs.
From a pure baseball perspective, spring training is for the team to get ready for the regular season, nothing more. Yes, it’s fun for the fans, and I consider it my month long spring break, but it’s about preparing the club for the impending six month trek that starts April 5, 2015.
I’ll close with a quote by a self-made Irish American who went from a newspaper delivery boy, to drill-press operator, to eventually running General Electric and net worth of over $700 million dollars. “Control your own destiny, or someone else will.” Jack Welch
Here are John Antonoff’s photos from yesterday’s 5-2 loss to the Reds at Sloan Park in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 15,331.