The Cubs are the World Champions! That is a statement that has not been made for 108 years. Last night’s game was one of the best ever (IMHO). Hats off to a Cleveland team that deserved to win as well. But, as we know in baseball, there can be only one winner.
A tough battle back and forth, combined with intriguing managerial decisions and timely hitting made for great baseball drama. What stood out to me though, as the dust settled after the Cubs on-field celebration, were comments made by Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo. Both Rizzo and Zobrist, undeniably heroes of the game, spoke of the players only meeting led by Jason Heyward during the rain delay and how it impacted the psyche of the team.
As the rain delay began around 11:58pm, the Cubs had seemingly lost their “mojo.” The Indians had gained momentum and tied the game off the Cubs flame throwing closer. Chapman was crying in the dugout as the rain delay was called. The tide had turned for the Indians for sure. The baseball gods sent in some rain and the tarps covered the field as the light hitting hero, Heyward, called the players only meeting in the tunnels under the stadium.
Heyward was only hitting .104 for the entire playoffs and was even benched at one point in the series. Guys like Zobrist, Rizzo, Swrarbreck, and Bryant were hot at the plate and one might have expected them to take the lead at such a crucial time for the team. No, it was the lowest producing offensive players that had the biggest impact. While I have not heard what he said yet, it was clear that Heyward’s impact was profound and positioned the mindset for the team to come out of the tunnels together, with fire and purpose.
We all know how the game ended now. The Cubs got hot at the plate and scored the runs they needed after that rain delay. Heyward struck out at the plate with runners in scoring position in the 10th when he had a chance to contribute, but he had already contributed all he needed at that point. He set the compass right for the team and led them to victory.
The message here is powerful. Everyone can contribute, even when you are not getting hits. Heyward could have let his offensive struggles get in the way of contributing, but he didn’t. Despite his flawed performance, Heyward inspired those around him to play together and believe in the team. I mean, he only had the pressure of the curse of a goat and the 108-year gap of “flying the W” on the last day of the baseball season. Well done Mr. Heyward, well done! I hope Steve Bartman is celebrating somewhere.