Chicago Cubs: Tommy La Stella has done a 180-degree turn

MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Tommy La Stella
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: Tommy La Stella /

August 5, 2016, I wrote about the Chicago Cubs’ Tommy La Stella. Why he was throwing a tantrum. And why the Cubs should have gotten rid of him. Glad I don’t know what I’m talking about.

The Chicago Cubs were in the middle of what would be one of the greatest seasons of all-time. But in August, we didn’t yet know that. And I forget that everything wasn’t coming up roses that season. There was, of course, the Tommy La Stella incident. I had a strong opinion on him. And let me say, I’m glad nobody listens to me.

That August, La Stella was sent down to Iowa. The only thing is, he didn’t go. Instead, he went home to New Jersey. He contemplated retiring. He didn’t want to play for anyone else. My take at the time? He was throwing a tantrum.

But that was a straightforward assessment to make. At least, on the surface. But the Cubs handled it much better than I would have. In fact, there probably isn’t a team that would have let him get away with something like that.

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Missing in action

After several weeks of talking to the front office, Joe Maddon, teammates and the team psychologist, La Stella accepted his assignment.

"“Anywhere else, I’m probably out of baseball,” La Stella said. “Which I was fully prepared for and completely accepted.”"

Not the same guy

He’s come a long way from the player he was then. In fact, if he didn’t tempt fate enough back then? Now he’s parking in Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein’s spots, and putting a bounce house in their parking area. You have to wonder, does La Stella have a death wish. Not really.

"“It’s not the same when he’s not around,” Heyward said."

Jason Heyward, who has had his struggles since joining the Cubs, thinks that says volumes about the organization.

"“It says something about both,” said veteran Heyward, a third-year Cub, who said of the organization: “They treat us like human beings.”"

La Stella didn’t know who he was at the time. What he wanted to do. He was ready to walk away from the game he loved–except the Cubs wouldn’t let him. They stood by him through it all. And that’s the biggest reason why he’s glad he’s still in Chicago.

"“I’m incredibly fortunate that it was here. Which is why I’m so adamant about wanting to be here.”"

Next: Cubs release Grimm

What about the questions he faced back then? Was he playing for himself or someone else? He’s found the drive and the passion to play the game like he always remembered it to be. Things are back “the way they were,” the way that they’re supposed to be.

La Stella has pulled a 180-degree turn for the Cubs. For what I saw as an outcast that didn’t commit to the team, he’s has proven that is no longer the case. He has a voice within the Cubs organization. And he has a place in their history. Not bad for the guy at the end of the bench.