Spring has sprung and the boys are back in Mesa. And while it’s great to hear mitts popping and bats cracking, we all know Spring Training is not exactly baseball season. It is certainly, however, soundbite season.
The non-stop parade of player interviews in February is often an exercise in cliche. Player X is in the best shape of his life. Coach Y is really changing the way the guys approach situation Z. And on and on and on. Blah blah blah. February and March in Arizona is the time and place to talk, talk, talk.
With that being said, an unexpected Cub has been the MVP of the early chatting season. Benny with the old man socks. Mr. Game 7. Mr. Julianna Zobrist. Zo was running circles around the press corps the other day, unleashing one fist-pumping quote after the other. And I couldn’t have been more into it.
He acknowledged that the World Series hangover was a real thing in 2017. For whatever reason, the club just didn’t have the same spark we saw for such a mammoth portion of the 2016 season.
But more importantly than looking backward, Zobrist declared that he felt a renewed energy in the early portion of Spring Training 2018. He said “I don’t know if we’ll ever figure it out [in reference to a slower 2017]. It’s part of human nature. But I can tell you this: the hunger is back for this team. We’re excited to get back at it and prove to the league that we’re the best team again.”
Yes, Ben, Yes!! But Zo went even a step further than saying the team’s energy is back. Zo said the team ego is ready to leave. He knows in this deep roster, at-bats will be hard to come by. But he’s “thirty six years old. His main concern is winning championships. I’ve told Joe that I’m ready for whatever.” This is the “Everbody In” mentality that Joe Maddon is trying to foster. This is what veteran leaders on championship teams say and do.
I really hope this attitude becomes the M.O. for our 2018 club. Check the ego at the door and show off that drive and hunger. Everybody In. Win Ugly 2018.