‘It’s not done yet’: Cubs have sights set on far more than just division title in 2020
All around baseball over the last week, teams have celebrated their postseason berths with on-field team photos or big clubhouse parties.
The Cubs, meanwhile, just took a few moments Saturday afternoon to congratulate each other with some high-fives in the dugout and then went back to the task at hand.
A playoff spot and the NL Central title is nice and certainly what the Cubs set out to do when they began this season. But they’re not content with just that.
They want more.
“You see the Reds celebrating, you see the Marlins celebrating — the Padres,” Anthony Rizzo said. “They’re happy to be in the playoffs. We’re very grateful to be in the playoffs, but our expectation is to win the World Series.
“Back in 2015, we were happy to be in the playoffs. ’16 and on, it’s World Series. Not making the playoffs last year, losing the Wild-Card game the year before that — this one feels good. With the 60-game season and everything that has gone on, it just feels really good to win the division and be able to play at home and take our playoff experience to whoever we’re gonna play.”
Rizzo also called the division just “Step 1” of where the Cubs want to be.
All year — since the first iteration of spring training back in Arizona — the Cubs have set World Series expectations for themselves.
“These players take a lot of pride in winning and living up to the expectations and being the group that has really redefined this franchise in a lot of ways,” Theo Epstein said. “I feel — and I think they feel — like it’s not done yet and that there’s a great opportunity this year to add to their legacy and continue to do remarkable things for the Chicago Cubs during this period of sustained success.”
Epstein took some time out of his Sunday afternoon Zoom session with Chicago media to credit every aspect of the Cubs organization for helping the team get to this point.
And when asked about what changes might befall this roster over the winter, the Cubs president of baseball operations instead tried to focus on the present.
“Of course there’s tremendous uncertainty and I think all that means is that we put an even greater emphasis on living in the moment and not taking for granted the opportunity that we have right now as a group to go out and make some history and add to this group’s legacy,” Epstein said.
The NL Central title marks three division championships in the past five seasons for the Cubs (also 2016 and 2017) as well as five playoff berths in the last six seasons.
That’s exactly the type of sustained success Epstein talked about when he joined the Cubs front office in 2011.
“I think my predecessor said it well — expectations are a good thing,” David Ross said, referencing a common refrain of Joe Maddon. “What this group has done is really taken the narrative of this organization and turned it upside down. That started with the top like Theo and Jed [Hoyer] and the front office and their plan and vision and getting the right guys.
“Being a part of it as a player and now as a manager, you realize all the hard work that goes into it behind the scenes that nobody sees. You realize the hard work the players put in, the coaches put in. Yeah, it’s real. It’s something to be really proud of.
“Hard in the moment to assess all of it, but when you’re gonna look back, all these guys – front office and the people associated with this team and the players and the coaches that have been part of this magnificent run that these guys have gone on for such a long period of time — are gonna be really proud. They’re gonna look back and say, ‘man, we’ve done something.’ I don’t think the end of the script is written yet for this group.”
If the Cubs had it their way, the end of the 2020 script would include hoisting another World Series trophy in a little over a month.
“It’s been a special six years,” Kyle Schwarber said. “We don’t want to be known just for breaking the curse. We want to keep doing this thing.”
Kris Bryant concurred.
“Nobody’s satisfied with just one,” Bryant said. “In anything in this game, you’re never satisfied with just one. You always want more and more. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t. But the group here is a really good group and there’s a lot of talent, so I don’t see why we couldn’t put more rings on the board.”