But the Cubs did. Both team officials and players now believe it was the wake-up call they needed. The first nine games of this season simply served as a dramatic backdrop for their resurgence. It’s like they were saying, “Let’s have some people doubt us more, only to fool them.” It might have worked.
“Other people may not believe, but we never lost confidence in this clubhouse, and that’s the only thing that matters,” outfielder Albert Almora Jr. said.
The result is a 25-14 record and a return to the baseball elite. Did they ever leave? The Cubs don’t think so, but they’re also not planning any parades.
“I don’t want to take any victory laps now,” Epstein said. “The guys showed up really ready to play. There’s a real focus each day on doing what’s necessary to put our best foot forward in order to win.”
Of course, he’s right. We’re only about a quarter of the way through the season. But no one can take away what the Cubs have accomplished: reminding the baseball world how good they are. That happened quickly after a rough start, which came after a rough finish. Maybe they needed to experience it all to be where they are now.
“It was a painful road trip,” Hoyer said of the beginning of the season. “In some ways, that was probably good for us.”