MESA, Arizona — Things are different around Cubs camp in 2020.
The first thing I noticed was stated by one of the players in attendance: “Is there going to be any music around here?”
That was one of the hallmarks of Joe Maddon’s spring workouts. He had music playing in the background of almost every session, generally a lot of 1970s or 1980s tunes.
This one? Just the sounds of bat meeting ball, which, truth be told, are always good sounds to hear.
But David Ross’ camp already seems much more businesslike than the camps under Maddon. This is neither good nor bad; players adjust to what they have around them. And Ross has said he’ll probably keep some of Joe’s methods going forward.
It’s different, though. Also different were the very small crowds around the back fields at the Sloan Park complex, as well as at Field 1, where other workouts were taking place. During the Cubs’ playoff run, you could expect to see 100, 150 people at every workout. Today? A couple dozen, maybe. Some of them got lucky and got some autographs from Anthony Rizzo as he was finishing hitting (photos 3 and 4).
Perhaps that will be different when the full squad workouts begin next Monday, and as we get closer to actual spring games beginning. But camp does seem different from the way it was over the last five springs. Maybe the weather had something to do with it. Do not be fooled by the bright sunshine — it was cool, at least by Arizona standards, temperatures only in the low 50s.
A couple of days ago it was noted the old player portraits on the outside walls of Sloan Park were still up. As of today they’ve been replaced (photos 9 and 10). It was also good to see that the sign honoring the late John Arguello of Cubs Den had been replaced — it was missing last spring.
Here are a few short videos I shot of the various practices taking place Monday in Mesa. The first full-squad workout is Monday; I probably won’t be there every day before that, but intend to go back a couple of times to check out workouts in the meantime.