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Chicago Cubs: Is Jason Heyward’s speech a franchise moment?

Apr 22, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward reacts in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward reacts in the dugout after hitting a three-run home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Around baseball, embedded in the history of every franchise, are key moments that define a team. For the Chicago Cubs, that moment came in early November 2016.

It was a much publicized signing around the baseball world when the Chicago Cubs inked star outfielder Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million deal in December 2015. Expectations couldn’t be higher after he left the rival Cardinals and came to the North Side.

His first year in Chicago didn’t come with it’s struggles, however.  Heyward had the worst year of his career, offensively, posting a slash line of just a .230/.306/.325.  However, there is one moment that will stand the test of time for years to come.

In Game 7 of the World Series, the Cubs aimed to do what no one thought could be done. Chicago had a comfortable three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.  The first two outs were easily recorded. Then, it all unraveled.

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A single, double and a Rajai Davis home run later, it’s all tied up at 6-6.  The ninth inning goes down without a whimper for both sides.  Then, a 17-minute rain delay, and the defining moment of the night – and perhaps, the season.

During the rain delay, Heyward gathered the entire team together and gave a speech on how the preceding innings didn’t matter, and to go win finish the job.

"“I told them I love them. I told them I’m proud of the way they overcame everything together. I told them everyone has to look in the mirror, and know everyone contributed to this season and to where we are at this point. I said, ‘I don’t know how it’s going to happen, how we’re going to do it, but let’s go out and try to get a W.’”"

Sure enough, the Cubs put up two runs in the top of the tenth and won the World Series – the team’s first since 1908.

Quieter, but leaving a mark on history

That speech will forever go down in Cubs lore as one of the moments that has forever changed the course of team history. Sure, it was behind the scenes – more so than many other iconic baseball moments. But it changed baseball forever.

Some other notable moments around baseball are Kirk Gibson’s homer for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series.  The Giants have the Willie Mays over-the-shoulder catch, the Yankees have too many to count, the Astros have the Chris Burke 18th inning home run in the NLDS, etc.  Every franchise has an iconic moment that defines them.  Heyward’s speech can be added to the Cubs’ list of iconic moments.

Of course, the Heyward speech is not being compared to those moments, oh no.  The point is that the Heyward speech is simply an iconic moment in Cubs lore.  The Cubs signed Heyward to not only be a dynamite baseball player, but also to be a leader on and off the field.  That was a great sign of what the Cubs bought him to Chicago to do.

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If Heyward rebounds offensively again, while playing Gold Glove defense, then the contract becomes very well worth it.  But, already, Heyward, even in a down year, played a very crucial role in the Cubs winning the World Series.

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