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Dexter Fowler revisits 2016 Cubs run: ‘It was like a movie’

1 year agoTony Andracki

MESA, Ariz. — Dexter Fowler will always have a special place in the hearts of Cubs fans.

He was a wildly popular player during the 2015-16 seasons but he cemented that status with a leadoff homer in the most important contest in franchise history — Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

Fowler — who is now an analyst for Marquee Sports Network — joined the broadcast Saturday during the Cactus League opener and shared stories about that epic 2016 run, including that leadoff homer.

Fowler even broke it down pitch-by-pitch in his at-bat against Cleveland’s Corey Kluber:

“So first pitch is off the plate a little bit,” Fowler said. “I’m like, OK, we knew that was going to happen. Next pitch, Kluber throws me that hip shot that he’s been killing us with. It was close, maybe on the black. Maybe caught the corner, maybe didn’t. Ball.

“1-1 [count]. I’m like, he’s coming back with it. And it leaked back over. As soon as I hit it, you know, you hit a home run and it comes off the bat so hot.”

Fowler also spoke about the celebration, where he spun around after touching first base and went back to high-five Cubs first base coach Brandon Hyde.

“I was watching the ball and hit the base and I turned and had missed Hyder at first,” Fowler said. “So I’m turning and usually I get him. I missed him and I’m turning and it went full swing. … I could still hear all the Cubs fans. That’s how you knew how many Cubs fans there were around because everybody else was silent.”

As Fowler reminisced on that epic 2016 season, Jon “Boog” Sciambi asked Fowler about the bond of that team.

“People ask me that all the time and I could tell you this: I’ve been on a lot of teams and we’re still close,” Fowler said. “It was almost like a movie because everybody played their part and they played it well. But we all stuck together.

“I know a lot of people say, ‘well this team is close.’ But we were like, really close. Everybody at all the team dinners were all together all the time. Like, it’d be 16-17 of us going out to eat. It wouldn’t just be five guys over here or the pitchers or position players. It didn’t matter what you are, you’re part of the team. We’re all together.”

That was evident from the start of that season, too. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer secured the re-signing of Fowler in secret and brought him to the Cubs Spring Training complex in Arizona during the middle of a workout. The reaction from the team was immediate and effusive. 

Fowler was the tablesetter of the Cubs lineup at that time. In 2015, he scored 102 runs with a .757 OPS. He battled some injuries in 2016, but had an even better season at the plate with an .840 OPS, .393 OBP and 84 runs in 125 games, earning his first All-Star honor.

Fowler said he still texts with a lot of the players from that 2016 team and even lives in the same neighborhood as Kris Bryant. He believes the clubhouse chemistry was a big reason for the on-field success that season.

“We’re connected at the hip,” Fowler said. “We were connected at the hip then. KB lives in my neighborhood; I see KB all the time. We’re always reminiscing about that team. It was a once-in-a-lifetime team to be on.

“You talk about it all the time — most of the teams that have won, it’s not just on paper. It’s in the clubhouse as well. These teams are together; they genuinely like each other. That’s what it takes because at the end of the day, you go out and you’re playing the game but 162 games is a long time and they become your brothers.

“You’re around them more than you’re around your family, so you gotta get along. And the teams that don’t get along are the teams that falter at the end.”

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