Tom Verducci dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss his new book, “The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse,” which chronicles the journey of Theo Epstein, Joe Maddon and, of course, the players who helped the Chicago Cubs win the 2016 World Series.
“It was something I figured was just too good not to write about,” Verducci said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “And for me being lucky enough to cover the games for SI and FOX and seeing everything up close, it really inspired me that this is a story that needed to be told. Even though it’s a familiar story, I wanted to tell the stories behind the stories.”
It’s a book that any baseball fan would enjoy.
“I don’t think there’s any one bombshell, but I can tell you that Theo Epstein got an early copy of the book, and he told me he learned a lot reading the book,” Verducci said. “There’s a lot of things that obviously he’s not privy to that the players say within the clubhouse. I really liked a lot of the stories that are within the World Series, especially Game 7.”
Epstein, 43, has the unique distinction of ending baseball’s two greatest curses. He has won three World Series championships – two in Boston, one in Chicago – and is perhaps the best executive in sports.
“He was very honest talking about how Boston basically began to eat him up – to the point where he told his wife, ‘I may have to just leave baseball for a year and decompress,’” Verducci said. “But of course the Cubs came along and offered him another dream job.”
The Cubs went 103-58 last season. It was the franchise’s best season since 1909. Chicago, which finished with a losing record in five straight years from 2010-14, has won 200 regular-season games over the last two seasons under Joe Maddon.
“The missing piece was a guy like Joe Maddon,” Verducci said. “He gets the most out of young players. He has a really relaxed vibe. That’s what (Epstein) wanted with the Cubs.”
And that’s what he got, not to mention a world championship, not to mention perhaps the best young core in all of baseball.
Heck, the Cubs are so young that many of them didn’t grasp how monumental their achievement was.
“I don’t think they did, and that probably served them well,” Verducci said. “Both Addison Russell and Kris Bryant talked about the fact that they were so naive that it actually played to their advantage. They didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to win. You talk to any Cubs fan of any age, and they’ll tell you that’s not the way they’ve been trained to follow this team. You keep waiting for the trapdoor to open up on you. But I can tell you this: For Theo Epstein, that was a main attraction, if not the main attraction, for taking the job in Chicago. He knew how much that ’04 championship in Boston resonated with so many generations of people. It was more than just a world championship. It was like a marker in people’s lives that it finally happened, and he knew the only place you could come even close to that was in Chicago. In fact, he told me after they won in ’04, he actually had the Cubs on his mind back then – because he knew that was the only place where he could get that same kind of feeling again and have such a meaningful championship.”