Chicago Cubs: Late-inning wins byproduct of confidence instilled by Maddon
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon has put confidence and expectation in this team, and it’s starting to permeate Chicago
The Chicago Cubs continue to defy the odds, as a Kris Bryant home run led them to their Major League-leading 12th walk-off win. Bryant has had a couple exciting ones, Starlin Castro has gotten in on the actions–even the veteran David Ross has one–although not as dramatic as Bryant’s walk-off home runs. But it doesn’t matter who, or how. Just that the Cubs are getting it done late. From day one, Joe Maddon has emphasized the mental side of the game. Message received.
When a team is playing like the Cubs are, it’s easy to talk about how everything is going right. But even when things weren’t as “smooth”, you could see this team believed in themselves. No lead was good enough, no deficit was too big to overcome. These late inning heroics are something that Maddon referenced indirectly back in May.
"“When you’re able to control yourself — which we all attempt to do in stressful moments — that’s when things get real good.” said Maddon."
Oh boy, have they gotten good. 21 games over .500. 20-4 since July 29th. If it weren’t for the Cardinals and the Pirates, Cubs fans would be giddy out of their minds leading almost any other division. But Maddon and the kids aren’t deterred. They aren’t content with winning the second Wild Card and heading to Pittsburgh for a one-game playoff. Claiming the top Wild Card spot and hosting it isn’t the goal. This team still believes it can win the NL Central.
Maybe Anthony Rizzo wasn’t out of his rocker this winter when he predicted it? As I write this, the Cubs are just six games out of first place, winners of five straight. The Cards are the Cards, and Pittsburgh has established its place in the Central hierarchy in the last few years. But this Cubs team absolutely believes something great is in store this year. Do they believe in the Back to the Future II prediction? Can you really ride something like that to this position? Probably not, especially since most of these kids weren’t alive when it came out.
“There’s all these little mind games going on all the time,” Maddon said. “The world revolves around confidence, man.”
It’s starting to feel like the world might be revolving around Chicago and Wrigley Field right now. We’re past hope. We’re in the believing stage.