By Laurence W. Holmes–
(CBS) It’s already starting. As the nation will descend next week upon Wrigley Field for the NLCS, there will be an attempt to sell you what the 2015 Cubs are all about.
And that’s a shame, because you don’t need to be sold anything. Your eyes haven’t lied to you so far.
History has a lot of weight, and Cubs fans are going to be exploited over the next two weeks because of it. The history that should concern you is the recent history that built this team.
It’s not about 1908.
It’s about owner Tom Ricketts being smart enough to put one of the best executives in the sports in charge of his team and then getting out of his way. The hiring of president of baseball operations Theo Epstein in October 2011 was a no -brainer, but when his plan calls for a few years of losing, it’s not easy to just say OK. Ricketts did that.
“When you ask Theo and Jed (Hoyer) a question, you get an answer,” Ricketts told me Tuesday night after the Cubs defeated the rival Cardinals in the NLDS. “And that answer has a lot of reasons behind it, a lot of analytics and a lot of thought.”
Even though the plan had been clearly stated, there were critics who wanted Ricketts to meddle in the process. He didn’t. He let his baseball people do their jobs, and he’s been rewarded.
It’s not about goats.
It’s about Epstein pulling off a coup, trading Scott Feldman to Baltimore for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop. Arrieta is in position to win the NL Cy Young after two-plus solid years in a Cubs uniform. Strop has perhaps been their most important reliever.
It’s not about black cats.
It’s about manager Joe Maddon and the effect he’s had on this franchise. It wasn’t easy to let Ricky Renteria go. He did a good job and has a bright future as a major league manager. Ricketts admitted as much to me, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maddon was an upgrade.
“There’s no way to measure Joe’s impact on this year’s success,” Ricketts said.
The smartest people in baseball can’t quantify a manager’s role, but I’m here to tell you that great managers matter and that Maddon is a great manager.
It’s not about Steve Bartman or Moises Alou.
It’s about shrewd moves, like adding Dexter Fowler, who’s second half and playoff contribution have been invaluable. It’s about picking up reliever Trevor Cahill and having him pitch in high-leverage situations and seeing him succeed. It’s about having a guy like veteran catcher David Ross in your clubhouse to be a calming influence.
It’s not about “Back To The Future.”
It’s about the grin that Kris Bryant has on his face when he crushes a ball. It’s about Kyle Schwarber calling his shot in Game 4 and Jorge Soler popping that chain. It’s about Addison Russell playing the most beautiful shortstop you’ve seen in a while and Starlin Castro finding redemption. It’s about Anthony Rizzo being the Cubs’ version of Andy Dufresne: swimming through three seasons of “(bleep) smelling foulness” and coming out as an MVP candidate on the other side.
It’s even about you, but not the way you think. Your relationship with this team is going to be exploited, but that comes from the minds of the lazy. You’ve changed, but you’re going to be depicted as desperate fans who just need a hug — when really all you ever wanted was good baseball.
What you got was a top-notch baseball organization that has systematically put your team in position to compete for years to come.
Just remember over the next couple of weeks. That’s what it’s about.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.