By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — From Banks to the Babe, Ryno to Yogi, the Cubs and Yankees share icons that span generations. These are two famed franchises with unique pasts rarely linked together.
There are countless memorable moments etched in history from the Cubs and Yankees, two of the oldest franchises in sports. They both carry traditions down to the pinstripes. But ultimately, the Yankees will forever be associated with winning, and the Cubs — formerly the Lovable Losers — are striving for such a standard after winning their first World Series in 108 years.
These are different days for the Cubs and Yankees, who meet this weekend for an intriguing series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are the toast of the town for their winning ways, and the visiting Yankees are looking to sustain success once again.
“It’s a fight, because we want to win a championship,” said Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, a key piece to the Cubs’ title run last fall. “We want to win the ring. Now, that’s the goal, win a championship for New York.”
New York has to fight with the Second City for that chance at a championship.
Chapman was presented his Cubs championship ring on the field before Friday’s game. He exchanged hugs with executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who made the bold trade for him last July, then walked toward the Cubs dugout and met with each teammate. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero even put his hat on Chapman’s head.
The link of Chapman between these two organizations is unique. Last year, the Yankees went against their standard and operated as sellers at the trade deadline, sending Chapman to the Cubs for four players. Cubs manager Joe Maddon was thrilled to have the flamethrowing Chapman for the postseason.
The Yankees’ return included prized shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres and veteran right-hander Adam Warren, previously traded to Chicago months before in exchange for infielder Starlin Castro.
“We gave up a lot,” Maddon said. “The kid we gave up is very good. However, to win a World Series, I think you do it 11 out of 10 times.”
Added Warren, holding his World Series ring: “It seemed like it worked out well.”
The Cubs gained a player whom Maddon said was the most instrumental in their victory. The Yankees strengthened their young direction with Torres, who could make his major league debut later this season.
So here are the Yankees as baseball’s most surprising team early on, sitting atop the AL East at 17-9 entering Friday’s contest with the Cubs. They’ve gotten strong starting pitching, an MVP-like first month from rookie Aaron Judge, the best of Castro and now the return of Gary Sanchez.
The Yankees seem to be where the Cubs were two years ago, with their young core arriving on the scene and bringing early success. They could contend all season long.
“We’re excited about the future,” Judge said. “But this team that we got, we’re just trying to take it one day at a time and do whatever we can to win the game that day.”
New York manager Joe Girardi, the former Cubs and Yankees catcher, operates differently than the free-spirited Maddon. He runs a rigid clubhouse, while Maddon has invited zoo animals in. Players on both sides swear by their managers.
There’s no right or wrong way to win. Maddon’s culture created an atmosphere in which the Cubs thrive, while Girardi brought the Yankees their 27th championship in 2009 by upholding the organizational standard.
After buying a winner the last decade, the Yankees saw their investments run dry. Now, they’re doing it the Cubs’ way and building with homegrown talent. It’s a different situation, as the Yankees are still counting on veterans like Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holiday as many their prospects have become major-league ready.
The Cubs boast plenty of young talent, with the likes of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber. The Yankees now have their own, with Sanchez, Judge, Greg Bird, Didi Gregorius and more on the way with the likes of Torres, Clint Frazier and others.
Perhaps this matchup could all come together on the same field during the fall as well as the present. For all their history of the past, the Cubs and Yankees could share much more soon.