After making the playoffs for the first time in seven years, the Chicago Cubs are the preseason favorites to win the World Series for the first time in more than a century.
Thus, the expectations went from nothing to everything in just one season. That’s got to be a little surreal, doesn’t it?
“Yeah, it’s kind of turned around pretty quick,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told Damon Amendolara, who was filling in as host of CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Last year, I think we did some things that weren’t really expected, but this year (we’re trying to embrace the target). I think we certainly are doing that. There’s definitely some expectations out there, but I’ve always said that we expect more out of ourselves in the clubhouse and more than any of the expectations outside of it. I think we’re ready for it.”
The Cubs won 97 games last year, beat the Pirates in the Wild Card and beat the Cardinals in the NLDS before ultimately falling to the Mets in the NLCS. Bryant, 24, was named National League Rookie of the Year. He hit .275 with a .369 OBP, 26 home runs, 99 RBIs, 87 runs and 13 steals in 151 games.
“I woke up every morning wanting to go to the field,” Bryant said of his rookie season. “I never really knew what to expect, so it was a lot of fun for me. I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of being a rookie in my first year, how to act and all that, so I kind of sat back and watched. But Joe (Maddon) really hammers home to just be yourself. All the guys are themselves. It was good to experience that. We made it pretty far last year and that was nice and all, but this year, I think we expect even more.”
While the Cubs are vying for their first NL pennant since 1945, the White Sox are debating the pros and cons of children in the clubhouse, this after causing a national controversy involving Adam LaRoche and his 14-year-old son, Drake.
“We haven’t really discussed it much,” Bryant said of his Cubs teammates, “but making it to the big leagues and seeing kids in the clubhouse – I really enjoyed it. I think it kind of takes your mind off of the stresses of the game. Anytime you see a 2-year-old running around – or even a 15-year-old – it kind of puts things into perspective for us as baseball players. It takes that stress off you. Kids are always so happy. It’s enjoyable for me to be around them, but certain organizations have different opinions on it and I think the Chicago Cubs are pretty favorable in terms of that.”