Joe Maddon returned to Sloan Park Monday to face the Cubs and reconnect with some of his former players for the first time since the end of last season. It looks a little weird seeing him in red, but it’s also fitting that both he and the Cubs were able to move on in relatively amicable fashion. That wasn’t the only reunion, though, as the matchup gave ESPN’s Jesse Rogers the chance to pal around with Tommy La Stella.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubMLB) March 2, 2020
Reunited and it feels so good: pic.twitter.com/ERHoFnc0C4
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 2, 2020
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) March 2, 2020
Maddon’s biggest regret
Introspection and public admission of fault aren’t character traits Maddon readily displays publicly, so it came as a bit of a surprise when he opened up to the Chicago media about his biggest regret from his Cubs tenure. And, boy howdy, was this one a whopper.
“I would put Maddon’s Post downtown,” Maddon said of his now-defunct Wrigleyville restaurant. “That’s my biggest regret, that we chose to put it where we did. I think that restaurant in the proper setting would have killed it.”
On second thought, that is not much of an admission after all and could even be construed as a dig against his old team. Maddon mentioned back several months ago that business wasn’t as brisk at his Wrigley spot than at several of his other restaurants around the country, so this is completely in keeping with what he’s said in the past.
It just seems like something that would be better left unsaid, especially since putting Maddon’s Post downtown in a much more crowded and elevated food scene wouldn’t have really helped things. Wait, are we seriously talking about a shuttered Italian joint in Chicago when the Cubs are in Mesa playing actual baseball? Yes, yes we are.
Bryant on Boras, kangaroo court
Kris Bryant has been a whole different cat this spring, showing up with more of an edge than he’s displayed in the past and being vocal about some of the team’s perceived shortcomings. He joined 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Monday morning to discuss new accountability initiatives and who’s the boss — hint: it’s not agent Scott Boras — when it comes to his contract negotiations.
“I’m never gonna be anybody’s puppet,” Bryant said. “I’m not gonna live my life like that. I make my own decisions, I’m a grown-up, I speak for myself. No one’s gonna tell me what decision to make besides me and my family, and that’s the ones who really matter to me.
“In terms of talking to Scott and stuff like that, especially during the spring, it’s kinda…we don’t talk too much because there’s not much going on. You’re getting ready for the season and it’s kinda nice to limit distractions.”
This is the same thing we’ve heard from Bryant for at least the last two years or so, but it never hurts to hear it again. He also mentioned more than once how good it is to be back playing baseball, which serves as a welcome distraction from the tedium of the business side of the game that dominated the winter.
Offseason activity did not dominate on the North Side over the offseason, so the Cubs are running it back with nearly the same group that has disappointed in recent seasons. As such, the change had to come from the inside, something we heard from Theo Epstein last season. Bryant explained how a system of fines for poor play could foster some attitudinal adjustments.
“Everybody wants to talk about holding ourselves accountable, and we’ve given those answers the last two years, but we’ve never acted on it,” Bryant said. “We came out flat and this and that. We tell those answers, but I just haven’t seen anything the past two years significant enough to suggest we changed anything.”
Even though players wanted to distance themselves from Javy Báez’s claim that the team wasn’t getting properly prepared for games, Bryant is essentially saying the same things here. After all, it’s not just a matter of physical readiness. Coming out flat mentally, whether it’s on an individual game basis or the start of the season, is just as bad as waiting until the game has started to get warmed up.
There’s no way to go back in time and correct any of this stuff now, but at least everyone is aware of it and is actively working to correct what went wrong in the past. And judging from Bryant’s mic’d up conversations with Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs are still just as loose as they’ve been in the past.