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Book Review: ‘Let’s Go Cubs!’

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This fun book celebrates the Cubs’ resurgence.

Courtesy Triumph Books

Most of you, I suspect, read the work of the writers from the Daily Herald, particularly Bruce Miles.

Stories by Bruce, Barry Rozner and other writers (including broadcasters Matt Spiegel and Dave Otto) are included in this new book, which also has a large number of color photos of Cubs players, dating back to the end of last year’s NLCS, up to the end of July 2016. You’ll read about last winter’s acquisitions of Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey, the surprise return of Dexter Fowler, the new Cubs clubhouse (including a couple of photos of the inside of the team’s new digs), and some of the crazy wins of the first half of the season, including the wild 13-inning Mother’s Day win over the Nationals.

Of course, one of the keys to the success of this year’s team is the leadership of manager Joe Maddon. This book excerpt, originally written by Bruce Miles on March 26, gives you great insight into how Joe approaches the game:

No, Joe Maddon’s saying for this Cubs season isn’t “remember the mime.”

Never mind that few could forget Maddon bringing the sounds of silence into spring-training camp recently to liven up the daily stretch. He outdid even that a few days later with bear cubs.

But with Maddon, there are always words of wisdom and inspiration. This year, it’s “embrace the target.”

There’s a nice double meaning there. Of course, the target for the Cubs is to get beyond where they went last year and into the World Series. Coming off a 97-win season and an appearance in the National League championship series, the Cubs also will have targets on their backs.

How to handle it all? Enter Maddon.

“There is a target,” said the 62-year-old Maddon, entering his second year as Cubs manager. “It’s much bigger than it was last year. I want it to continue to grow. When you say that, you also have to define it for your group. Really for me, in order to embrace the target properly and understand that, you have to accept the fact that you have to really beat to death ‘process.’ If you, on a daily basis, really attack the word ‘process’ and what it means, then you can more easily handle the expectations and pressure, all the items that build the target.”

“Process” is another of Maddon’s favorite terms. Although the Cubs have an end goal in mind, Maddon believes the end result takes care of itself by focusing on the day-to-day things and not getting caught up in outcomes.

“Our relentless execution of managing expectations, that equals our process,” he said. “Without getting too academic, I try to put it into words our guys can understand. You run toward the fire as opposed to away from it. I want our guys to understand that. That’s the way it is. It’s great. It means you’re good. We are good. Then how do we deal with this daily? I think you need to talk about it upfront.

“We have not won a World Series in a century, so there is nothing to get complacent or cocky about. Bring that all on the table. Talk about it. Say it up front and work it from there. That’s why I believe it’s important to embrace the target.”

Maddon has spent the last month and a half drilling that into his players. It might be easier for them to embrace process than it is for Cubs fans, whose team has not won a World Series since 1908 or played in one since 1945.

In the early days of camp, Maddon acknowledged that he and his players are in an outcome-based business. At the end of the day, it matters if they’ve won or lost. At the end of the year, it matters whether they’ve reached and won the World Series.

“My point is that you take care of the seconds, the minutes and the hours, and the days will take care of themselves,” he said. “Why would you want to focus on the end of the book as opposed to each sentence and each line? That’s what I’m talking about regarding the process of this thing. The game ebbs and flows so much. The season ebbs and flows so much. Why would you be constantly focused on your record at the end of the year?

(This excerpt from Let’s Go Cubs!: A New Era on the North Side by Daily Herald is printed with the permission of Triumph Books. For more information and to order a copy, please visit www.triumphbooks.com/LetsGoCubs)

The writing is excellent, as you can see from the excerpt, but for me, the best part of this 8x11 size paperback book are the color photos, many of which are full-page. They’ll bring back many warm memories of this Cubs season as we await the beginning of what we hope is an October to remember. Kudos to the Daily Herald for putting together a book that’s up to date to just about a month ago about the 2016 Cubs. Well worth your time.