“Wins don’t just happen because you’re talented and you show up,” Theo Epstein said prior to Thursday’s series finale in Washington.
He’s right, of course. Wins happen because you’re talented and you show up and your opponent totally wets the bed. Or at least that’s how it worked in the case of the Cubs and Nationals yesterday.
Had I told you even a week ago that Jeimer Candelario, Victor Caratini, and Tommy La Stella would help to key what was perhaps the Cubs’ biggest win, you’d have totally believed me. And by that I mean you’d have believed I was either crazy or stupid. Except you probably already do, so now the snake has eaten its tail and here we are.
Epstein talked about his team needing to find its identity and an edge, and while I can’t definitively say they discovered either, I think they took a step in the right direction. But I don’t really know exactly what that looks like. The game itself was a little sexy and a little gross and all kinds of awesome. So was that edge? I mean, how can we tell for sure?
“It’s like the Supreme Court said about pornography,” Epstein explained. “You know it when you see it.”
Here’s where I need you to override your desire to “well, actually” Epstein by pointing out that it was Justice Potter Stewart specifically who uttered those famous words. Because the root of his words is whats important. And he’s right.
All the different metrics are great, but there’s something to be said for the eye test. There was a sense last year that the Cubs would win every game, or at least that they could. That gave birth to the “we never quit” mantra that was reinforced time and again, down to the very last game.
A skeptic could look at the series of events — particularly the hit by pitch and failed double play — that led to this most recent comeback and say that the Cubs got lucky. And that’s true, though it’s a matter of perspective. Luck is, after all, the confluence of preparation and opportunity. Besides, after all the bad breaks they’ve gotten over the last couple months, Thursday’s events don’t even come close to balancing the luck ledger.
Though it was just one win in a season that will require many more of them, this one felt bigger than most. Their identity has been fluid to this point, so maybe we can finally learn who the Cubs really are.
Iowar Bear looking for himself
As the Cubs search for their identity, they sent one of their defining players down to AAA to find his own. Whether and when he will is still very much in question — publicly, anyway, I have no such doubts of my own — particularly given his performance to this point at Iowa.
Schwarber is 5-for-15 (.333) so far, all singles, and has at least one hit in all four games he’s played so far. He’s also walked once, flied out once, and has grounded into a double play. That accounts for eight of the 16 times he’s stepped to the plate. Wanna guess what the other eight were?
To be honest with you, I’m not even worried about the strikeouts. I mean, sure, a 50 percent K-rate is problematic when it’s derived from a bigger sample. For now, it’s more a matter of being able to do what he’s doing in an environment that’s a little more forgiving than that provided by the friendly confines.
The road ahead
If you’ve ever driven a long distance, or even a relatively short one late at night, you’ve probably experienced what they call highway hypnosis. You’ve been lulled by the road, sometimes maybe too much. Then you finally get to that milestone that signals your imminent arrival at your destination and you wake up.
I believe that milestone may have been the Nats win, and not just because of the manner in which they completed it. The Cubs now get three games against the drowning Reds before heading home to close out the first half against the Rays, Brewers, and Pirates. You know, Ron, you feel like this could be a turning point.
More news and notes
- Kris Bryant is learning to not give a f—
- Trea Turner suffered a broken wrist after being hit by a Pedro Strop pitch yesterday
- The injury is similar to that suffered by Freddie Freeman
- Not timetable has been set, but eight weeks is a good guess
- The Yankees’ Dustin Fowler suffered an open rupture of his right patellar tendon when he ran into a wall in Chicago
- The game was Fowler’s debut and the injury came before he got an at-bat
- He underwent immediate surgery (better for recovery) and is expected to be out at least six months
- This injury has eerie parallels to that of Archie “Moonlight” Graham, who was immortalized by Field of Dreams and who made his only major league appearance on June 29, 1905, exactly 112 years prior to Fowler’s
- Jeffrey Loria is reportedly nearing a decision on the sale of the Marlins and may have to take less than the $1.3 billion asking price
- Alex Avila continues to be mentioned as a possibility for the Cubs