It was exactly one year ago today the front office broke its silence and announced hiring Joe Maddon to be the 54th manager of the Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein ended the week of speculation with a statement confirming that Maddon had replaced Rick Renteria.
Three days later the Cubs beat writers and fan base learned about the Hazleton Way, a shot and a beer, and details of the meeting that took place at a RV Park between Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Maddon in ‘The Cousin Eddie.’ Maddon owned the press conference at the Cubby Bear and gave just a glimpse of what would be in store during the season.
Joe Maddon changed the culture in the clubhouse, took the pressure off the kids and exceeded his prediction of a 90-win season. Maddon said the Cubs would make the playoffs, and delivered. Maddon led the Cubs to 97 wins and a trip to the National League Championship Series. The Cubs finished third in the NL Central with the third best record in baseball, and the 24-win improvement was the best in the game.
Not counting the post-season, the Cubs went 49-32 at Wrigley and 48-33 on the road. And the Cubs posted a total of 101 victories after beating the Pirates and Cardinals playoffs before running into bad luck and a buzz saw in the NLCS.
Joe Maddon joined Charlie Grimm (1932), Gabby Hartnett (1938), Jim Frey (1984), Dusty Baker (2003) and Lou Piniella (2007) as the sixth manager in franchise history to take the Cubs to the post-season in his first season at the helm.
The Cubs’ window opened this season in a journey that began a year ago today. Theo Epstein was correct Joe Maddon is the right manager to lead the Cubs. And now it’s up to Maddon to keep doing simple better and not let the pressure exceed the pleasure.
Tom Ricketts emailed a Thank You to all Cubs fans for a remarkable year.
Dear Cubs Fans,
Wow. What a season! A week later, it’s still hard to put into words just how special this past year was for all of us.
On behalf of my family and the entire Cubs organization, we want to thank you. Without your patience and support, we never would have been able to begin building a championship-caliber team the right way.
From the many great team victories to some incredible individual performances, this team got us to believe in magic and showed us anything is possible when you set your mark high. Led by a dynamic, one-of-a-kind manager and fueled by youthful enthusiasm and remarkable talent, our team not only competed, but proved to be a real contender. With the third-best record in baseball, we experienced a 24-win turnaround from 2014 and our first postseason berth since 2008.
None of us will ever forget our October games. The vibe in the ballpark was electric thanks to your constant energy. With every “Go Cubs Go” chorus and every W flag flown, the team felt your support. Defeating the Cardinals in our first-ever postseason matchup and clinching a series at Wrigley Field for the first time in franchise history was truly incredible. While we fell short against the Mets in the National League Championship Series, our ultimate goal remains – to win a World Series. Now more than ever, I believe we are in position to pursue and accomplish that goal.
During this past year, we also made solid progress toward our second goal of preserving Wrigley Field. Again, thank you for your patience. The new video boards debuted to rave reviews, and the Budweiser Bleachers are back and better than ever with upgraded amenities and new group spaces. This offseason will be just as productive as we work to complete our new state-of-the-art clubhouse and Wrigley Field ticket office. Most importantly, the work you won’t necessarily see is the continued replacement of the steel and concrete that will allow Wrigley Field to stand for the next generation of Cubs fans.
In addition to the tremendous progress we made on the field this season, we also made great strides in the community. The generosity of our players, fans, partners and neighbors was felt far beyond the Friendly Confines and helped us further our third goal of being a good neighbor. Our team and Cubs Charities are on track to donate more than $1.5 million this year. Cubs Charities signature programs – Cubs Scholars, Cubs on the Move Fitness Program and the Diamond Project – continued to thrive as we welcomed our third class of scholars, launched an online fitness curriculum available to more than 1 million Chicago kids and awarded nearly $500,000 in grants to improve the quality and safety of local baseball fields.
In 2015, we also saw past contributions come to life as we helped open Margaret Donahue Park and Kerry Wood Cubs Field. These wonderful community assets are enhancing the quality of life in our community and providing local athletes with a place to improve their skills while fostering their love of the game.
It is certainly encouraging to take a minute to look back and celebrate what we were able to accomplish together on and off the field. Now that our 2015 season is in the record books, there is no need to worry about predictions and going “Back to the Future.” The future is now. We are ready to carry the momentum into 2016 and continue this special journey with you.
Let’s Go Cubs,
News, Notes and Rumors
• Andrew McCutchen was named the winner of the 2015 Roberto Clemente Award.
• Jon Lester delivered for Cubs in Year 1 of megadeal according to a report from Patrick Mooney.
• Bill Chuck posted the results of the 2015 Fielding Bible Awards on Gammons Daily.
• One-time Cubs’ right-hander Chris Volstad signed a minor league contract with Braves that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
• According to Matt Spiegel, it is time for the Cubs to deal from strength.
• Anthony Rizzo headlines Major League Baseball’s new cancer awareness spot.
And last, but not least … be on the lookout for a gorilla suit around Wrigley today.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs announced the hiring of Joe Maddon to be the 54th manager in franchise history. Maddon signed a five-year, $25 million contract.
2014 – Cubs fired manager Rick Renteria
2014 – Cubs granted free agency to Kyuji Fujikawa
2013 – Cubs granted free agency to Scott Baker, Matt Guerrier, Dioner Navarro and Kevin Gregg
2012 – Cubs granted free agency to Joe Mather
2008 – Cubs granted free agency to Henry Blanco, Kerry Wood and Jon Lieber
2007 – Cubs granted free agency to Cliff Floyd and Steve Trachsel
2006 – Cubs granted free agency to Henry Blanco, Wade Miller, Aramis Ramirez, Jose Reyes and John Mabry
2005 – Cubs granted free agency to Neifi Perez
2003 – Cubs granted free agency to Eric Karros
2003 – Cubs released Josh Paul
2000 – Cubs granted free agency to Shane Andrews, Jeff Reed and Jeff Huson
1995 – Ryne Sandberg announced he would be returning to the Cubs in 1996. Sandberg inked a one-year contract to come out of retirement.
1995 – Cubs granted free agency to Shawon Dunston and Mark Parent
1982 – Alex Hinshaw, born
1977 – Cubs acquired Bill Caudill and Woodie Fryman from the Reds for Bill Bonham
1970 – Steve Trachsel, born