Decades from now, we’ll still be talking about this era of Cubs baseball. We’ll remember, of course, the 103-win campaign in 2016 and the roller-coaster postseason that ended in a World Series title. And we’ll surely smile when we think about Joe Maddon’s antics and his unorthodox managerial style, particularly his various themed road trips and team-building fuctions.
The most recent of these is “Putting art back into baseball,” since, as Maddon says, the fine detail and grace with which players move is art.
“I wanted our guys to know they’re artists,” Maddon explained. “If you watch video of a well-played game — a great play whether it’s baseball, basketball, football — you see artistry in the movement of the athletes. I want to think of them as artists.”
I dig this and absolutely love what Maddon is trying to preach here. Baseball players are constantly in pursuit of perfection, it’s in their DNA. Just look at Addison Russell constantly changing his batting mechanics or Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant evolving over the years. In actuality, almost every baseball player looks like a shell of his former self after years at the big league level.
But Maddon’s counterpunching this intuition.
“There’s a great quote from Dali about how if you’re looking for perfection, don’t worry, you’re never going to achieve it,” Maddon said.
Hitters and pitchers can easily become discouraged or can get caught up with trying to perfect mechanics. It’s easy to lose track of what’s important in baseball, and that’s scoring and preventing runs no matter how you do it.
The Cubs have a reputation for being a statistically savvy franchise. Beyond the science of the sport, though, they’ve built a reputation for being human-centric and focusing on what really sparks people. This is also fully evident in their mental skills program, through which players can learn how to be mindful and to re-appraise their performance from the proper perspective.
Sure, slogans and themes can be somewhat corny. But these examples serve to further exemplify the Cubs’ astounding player and team environment. In a baseball world dominated by statistics, sometimes we forget that really impressive physical performances often come as the result of an equally impressive mental fortitude.