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Book Review: ‘The Cubs Way’

An inside look at how the Cubs built their 2016 World Series winner.

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SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Every Cubs fan should buy this book.

“The Cubs Way,” by Sports Illustrated/Fox Sports’ Tom Verducci, is not only a complete look at how the Cubs won the World Series, but an in-depth peek inside the way Theo Epstein & Co. have built the best organization in baseball.

You might have already read part of this book, as this excerpt appeared on a week ago. The excerpt is a detailed description of how the Cubs won Game 7, but there’s something more important in it as well. Permit me to quote the most cogent part:

That night, not long after the final out, the heavens opened again, this time with more conviction. Many of the Cubs players, their families and their friends lingered on the field in the hard, cool rain on an unusually warm November night. Joyful and relieved, nobody was in a hurry to get out of the downpour. They let it wash over them. It was a feeling that went far beyond Progressive Field. From the packed streets around Wrigley, where people had gathered all night, to the sons and daughters who watched with fathers and mothers in the biggest baseball television audience in a quarter of a century, to the many who wanted this night even more for the ones they loved and buried than for themselves, the faithful everywhere did not need the cool rain upon their skin to feel the change.

The Cubs, and all of their attendant culture, are redefined. The Cubs are champions. That’s Cub.

That’s how we all felt, I think, after the Game 7 win. That it wasn’t just for the team or for those of us fortunate enough to see it in our lifetimes. It was for everyone who’s ever played for the Cubs or loved them. As Cubs fans, we have witnessed not only the World Series win but a change in the way this organization is run and is perceived. The last sentence of that book is now the Cubs’ marketing slogan. It makes a great deal of sense.

The rest of the book is equally compelling. If you have read Jane Leavy’s wonderful biography of Sandy Koufax, “A Lefty’s Legacy” (and if you haven’t, you should), “The Cubs Way” is formatted similarly. Interspersed with chapters detailing each of the seven World Series games are chapters describing how Theo & Co. built the team. One of the things I was most struck by in this wonderfully detailed book was this passage in which Theo describes how he not only wanted to identify the most talented players with whom to build his organization, but high-character guys:

“I used to scoff at it, when I first took the job in Boston,” he said. “I just felt like, you know how we’re going to win? By getting guys who get on base more than the other team, and by getting pitchers who miss bats and get groundballs. Talent wins, but ... It’s like every year I did the job I just developed a greater appreciation for how much the human element matters and how much more you can achieve as a team when you have players who care about winning, care about each other, develop those relationships, have those conversations ... it creates an environment where the sum is greater than the parts.”

I think you’ll agree that Theo & Co. assembled just such a team. Supremely talented, to be sure, but also excellent human beings, and they also hired just the right man to lead them on the field. The hiring of Joe Maddon is described in great detail, as are all the other factors leading to the ultimate triumph.

You know the story, of course. Verducci’s book takes you behind the scenes, as he had pretty much unfettered access to everyone in the organization.

The book is officially published as of next Tuesday, March 28, but you can pre-order it now at the link above. Thanks to the good folks at #PRHPartner for sending along a review copy. It’s a must-read for any Cubs fan.