The year in Cubs dating: Was 2022 just a preview of things to come?
The year in Cubs dating: Was 2022 just a preview of things to come?
“The double birds must be addressed first,” puppies Coach David Ross previously said a reporter might even ask the first question at his July 29 pregame media conference in San Francisco. The night before, the Marquee Sports Network telecast of the game cut to the standard shot of the manager standing in the dugout. Except this time, Ross saluted the ex-Cub/giants gardener Game Pederson with an inside joke and held up both middle fingers.
“I’m sorry, first of all,” Ross said. “That was my greeting to a friend of mine on the other side. I definitely should have known better. I don’t want any kid giving the birds to anybody. That’s not how I want to represent this organization, not me or the my family. Yeah, bad taste. I’m sorry it was caught on TV.”
That moment became the perfect GIF for a team that was buried in the National League Central and preparing for another trade deadline sale. It was also somewhat refreshing to see an off-script reaction to the talking points that the modern manager must follow as he liaises with the front office, fulfills obligations to the team-owned network and tries to avoid any type of controversy that can cause rejection in the clubhouse or on social networks.
After all the rumors on Twitter, and the furtive negotiations that progressed to the point of Astros owner Jim Crane made a deal Willson Contreras — Cubs president Jed Hoyer did not trade the All-Star catcher at the Aug. 2 deadline. The post-deadline crash didn’t happen either, as the Cubs finished with a 39-31 record after the All-Star break that reflected well on Ross and his coaching staff and certain initiatives within of Hoyer’s baseball operations department. Pederson praised Ross as a good communicator — “he was just kidding” — and later recommended Chicago as a free agent destination. Dansby Swanson.
A year that began with silence from Major League BaseballSwanson’s closing ended with the signing of the statement to a seven-year, $177 million contract. If the Cubs turn around next year, 2022 will get the hagiographic treatment, idealized alongside the 2014 season. But that’s never how it’s experienced in real time. There’s nowhere to hide for the full 162-game schedule, which allows for surprises, disappointments and personalities. Here’s a look back, in his own words, at the good, the bad and the double birds.
“No, there have been no talks.” — Contreras, in his 14th year in the Cubs organization, sees free agency as a potential “dream come true,” March 13.
“Mike TroutI love you.” – Seiya Suzuki, explaining why he chose 27 for his jersey number (after getting $85 million guaranteed before his first major league at-bat), on March 18.
“The way everyone talked about playing at Wrigley, it’s definitely true, and probably even more incredible.” — Marcus StromanApril 10
“A vision is different from reality, right? Can you imagine how things will be? For sure. But… things don’t always happen. There are many adversities that come in our game. Can I see where things are going here? For sure. Is this reality? Not yet.” – Ross, at the end of April.
“Losing sucks.” — Contreras, May 7.
“I talk to Tom (Ricketts) and Crane (Kenney) all the time. Everybody has questions. I have questions. Rossy has questions. You’d be remiss or not doing your job if you didn’t ask questions about why we’re struggling in certain areas. Some of it, I think, is obvious. And some of it, I think, is more nuanced. But I think everyone is asking questions and they should be asking questions.” — Hoyer, June 16.
“As with any losing streak, it’s kind of a multi-system failure.” — Hoyer, June 16.
“Winning, I don’t think, is something that one day you just flip the switch and go, ‘Oh, now’s the time to win.'” Nico Hoernermid season
“You fall asleep to it and just go and do your job every day.” — Ian Happ about the trade rumors rotating through the team, on June 24.
“I knew it would happen to me at some point. I wish that day would never come, but this is business. I understand that. I respect that. And I love my team. I love my teammates more. I don’t want to screw- I’m too much for them because you never know what’s going to happen.” — Contreras, July 25.
“I just want this to be over.” — Contreras, July 31.
“I’m happy to still be here.” — Happ after the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
“I understand the emotional toll it takes when you’re waiting for a phone call and you’re reading rumors. I know it would be hard for me if I was in that situation. I really understand the human toll on those guys. I definitely want to sit down and talk to these guys. Part that’s why we value these guys so much. They’re very good players. They just played in the All-Star Game. But it couldn’t have been an easy week. Frankly, the way it’s trended, the media coverage or the national coverage of the trade deadline, it basically started this year at the All-Star Game. I feel like this is longer than I remember. That makes it even more difficult for these guys. It seems like now there a 10-day or two-week countdown to the deadline, so I think these guys have been on eggshells for a while.” — Hoyer, August 2.
“You can’t buy a baseball championship team. You have to build it. And that’s what we’re doing. And to build it, you have to spend years where you let the young people take charge, give them a chance to prove themselves, and figure out who you have to build. That’s what this year is all about. And it’s been a success.” — Cubs President Tom Ricketts September 10
“The ball is in Jed’s court when it comes to how and where he puts the financial resources to work.” — Ricketts, September 10.
“I think we’re close. A lot of it is out of my control. Hopefully, we make a few moves. I think we’ve got a great group of guys, great young guys coming up who are going to make great contributions all year long. But yeah, if we add some pieces, I think we can compete in the division right away.” — Stroman, September 10.
“It’s like when you want to buy a new car, but you don’t have to. You can be picky, right? We have a very good shortstop here. If something comes together where they identify a midfield player that is of value that they feel is a great fit, I think everyone is on board with that, myself and Nico included. Those are good problems to have. We’ll let the front office pick and choose on that.” — Ross, September 11.
“We still have a lot of work to do. I’m being honest. I know we have a lot of pitching in the farm system. But that will need balance like we had in 2016. We had a lot of veterans and we had a lot of young talent. This balance creates good chemistry, guys who can guide the young talent and be their support. This is something they hope to do next year. … I don’t know how long it will take.” — Contreras, September 27.
“I want to be in a place where I’m wanted.” — Contreras, September 27.
“I feel like I’m a very lucky person to be part of a select group of players who have won bad contracts. Because there are a lot of bad contracts, if that’s how we’re looking at it, right? But to be able to show the value of myself as a person, probably in one of the most difficult times I’ve experienced on the field and off the field in 2016, and show that I’m here for the team, to keep playing defense. the way I play defense, run the bases and step up and step up on multiple occasions when I needed to be who I am, to be Jason Heyward, we still have a ring. It took me all that. He took this group. There was no other group that was going to do it. So it’s okay, I understand people can say bad contract, this and that, but I know I’ve also had my hand in a lot of baseball wins here on the North Side of Chicago.” — Jason Heyward, September 29.
“The first half of this year there’s no doubt, we took hope off the table quickly with the way we played early on. We didn’t fill some of those holes effectively. This was a challenge. We want to make sure we play more like we played in the second half of the first half next season. We want to compete.” — Hoyer, October 10.
“Business is still healthy and that left Jed with a lot of money to spend this year. Like last year, where he didn’t spend all the money he had. Last year, he just didn’t see transactions that made sense for to him. I hope there are trades that make sense for us this year to spend all the money he has.” — Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney on 670 The Score, December 9.
“Being a Cub means more to me than people would think. It’s no secret that I left my hometown team to be here. I’ve kept telling everyone that it’s more personal to me. Mallory and I we got married on the 10th of December. The next morning we found out that my grandfather was not so well, he was in hospice. We pretty much left our wedding venue the next morning, went home and we basically had to go to the nursing home he was in. he ended up passing away the day after we got married the one thing that always stood out was that he lived next door to my parents and me and my brother and sister. Every day when I came home from school, I ran to her house and practically demanded she come outside and hit me with dirt balls, which she always did. But every time she came in, she had a Cubs game, when I was at WGN. He always said, ‘Pops, we’re in Atlanta, man. We’re Bras ventilators.’ He loved baseball so much, and all he wanted me to do was do what I’m doing now. So after he won a championship in Atlanta for one of his favorite teams, we were (attracted) to the Cubs, who were his second favorite team. Bringing a championship to this city was what we felt called to do.” — Swanson, December 21.
(Top photo of Marcus Stroman and Yan Gomes: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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