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Chicago Cubs: Heyward “surprised” by popularity of speech

Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward (22) reacts after hitting a triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward (22) reacts after hitting a triple against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of game one of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward gave a speech during the rain delay of Game 7. It was enough to fire up the Cubs to win for the first time in 108 years. The funny thing? Heyward had no idea how popular it was.

If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you already know about Jason Heyward‘s speech. The Cubs had just blown a 6-3 lead in the eighth inning. What seemed so sure to be happening just a few innings before was slipping from their grasp. What were they going to call this curse? But that narrative wasn’t the one to play out. It was “the speech” that many know it by. The $184 million man struggled on almost every level–except the one where he helped to rally his team to a World Series. And he had no idea how big that speech was.

It was a terrible first season for Heyward in Chicago, at least at the plate. While he was making plays in right field that helped him win his fourth Gold Glove, most of his at-bats ended with slow rollers to second base. It was so bad that Joe Maddon used a variety of different combinations in the outfield for the World Series–many of them not involving Heyward–their high-priced freee againt signing.

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But it was a few words by Heyward in the weight room of Progressive Field that defined his season. Could you look at that and call it disappointing? Of course. But it was year one of what could be eight, and those words might have been the most important he spoke all season long. So how did Heyward feel about those words in that moment?

"“Surprised?” Heyward said Saturday morning. “I don’t know. I never thought about it like that. It was just a moment where you feel like you need to say what you need to say. I would have been pissed off if I didn’t say it at the time. h/t Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune"

Well, I’m glad he said them. Too often–not just in sports, but in life–we don’t speak our mind and later regret that moment. While his performance on the field had been less than inspiring, his words were far more than that. He rallied the team, his family, to not give up in a moment that very well could have been another sad story about the Cubs failure.

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But in this case, there was no failure for these Cubs. Only a jubilation that has lasted into Spring Training. Heyward might not have realized what those words would mean not only to his teammates but Cubs’ fans around the world. We have an idea of what he said, but we’re all just happy he said them at all.

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