With inside access and reporting, Sports Illustrated senior baseball writer and FOX Sports analyst Tom Verducci reveals how Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon built, led, and inspired the Chicago Cubs team that broke the longest championship drought in sports, chronicling their epic journey to become World Series champions.
It took 108 years, but it really happened. The Chicago Cubs are once again World Series champions.
How did a team composed of unknown young players and supposedly washed-up veterans come together to break the Curse of the Billy Goat? Tom Verducci, twice named National Sportswriter of the Year and cowriter of The Yankee Years with Joe Torre, will have full access to team president Theo Epstein, manager Joe Maddon, and the players to tell the story of the Cubs' transformation from perennial underachievers to the best team in baseball.
Beginning with Epstein's first year with the team in 2011, Verducci will show how Epstein went beyond "Moneyball" thinking to turn around the franchise. Leading the organization with a manual called "The Cubs Way", he focused on the mental side of the game as much as the physical, emphasizing chemistry as well as statistics.
To accomplish his goal, Epstein needed manager Joe Maddon, an eccentric innovator, as his counterweight on the Cubs' bench. A man who encourages themed road trips and late-arrival game days to loosen up his team, Maddon mixed New Age thinking with Old School leadership to help his players find their edge.
The Cubs Way takes listeners behind the scenes, chronicling how key players like Rizzo, Russell, Lester, and Arrieta were deftly brought into the organization by Epstein and coached by Maddon to outperform expectations. Together, Epstein and Maddon proved that clubhouse culture is as important as on-base percentage and that intangible components like personality, vibe, and positive energy are necessary for a team to perform to their fullest potential.
Verducci chronicles the playoff run that culminated in an instant classic Game Seven. He takes a broader look at the history of baseball in Chicago and the almost supernatural element to the team's repeated loses that kept fans suffering but also served to strengthen their loyalty.
The Cubs Way is a celebration of an iconic team and its journey to a World Championship that fans and listeners will cherish for years to come.
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Great for Cub fans and even those that are not
- Michael Klotz
Outstanding book on an outstanding baseball team
Fly the "W"
None really - no book I have read captures the story of a team like this one does
Sounds just like he does on TV - not a homer, but as a no-nonsense reporter
"Cubs Win! Cubs Win!"
Nearly everyone, including non-baseball fans, is aware of the story of the Chicago Cubs during the 2016 season. Having not won the World Series since 1908, the team was led by a core of young position players and not only compiled the best record in baseball, they broke the so-called “curse” and defeated the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling 7-game World Series. The story of how this championship team was built is told in this outstanding book by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci. He also narrated the audiobook, which was also done well. Authors who narrate the audio version of their books help to lend an air of authority to the work.
The story of the team is told mostly through extensive interviews with Cubs president Theo Epstein and field manager Joe Maddon. Both of them have ideas and viewpoints that go against the traditional way of building and managing a winning team, something that is noteworthy in the usually conservative business of baseball. For example, many teams try to build their teams through pitching as there are plenty of clichés and conventional thoughts that state pitching is more important.
However, Epstein didn’t follow that model. Instead, he concentrated on obtaining a core of talented position players who would live up to his standards for talent, character and leadership. Between trades and the draft, Epstein found his core players. First baseman Anthony Rizzo (trade), third baseman Kris Bryant (draft), catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber (draft) and shortstop Addison Russell (trade) make up that core and Verducci tells the reader why each of these players are so important to the team. Oh, and as for pitchers – through some shrewd trades and free agent signings of veterans like Jon Lester and Jake Arrietta, that was addressed as well.
The best and most extensive writing, however, is saved for the lengthy passages about Maddon and his unorthodox approach to running his team. Having already achieved success with the Tampa Bay Rays, Maddon’s complete story with the Cubs is captured with humor, detail and inside information that he was more than happy to share with Verducci. The reader will feel like he or she is part of the Cubs clubhouse – which is one of those important details that helped change the culture of the team after it underwent a multi-million dollar upgrade.
If Cubs fans read only one book about their team’s magical 2016 season, this is the one they must read. Even readers like me who are not Cubs fans but want to read about an excellent baseball team, this book should be added to their libraries. Verducci can certainly fly the “W” with this winner of a book.
- LSmith "L. Smith"