Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Fennelly: With Game 7 of the World Series tonight, expect Cubs' Maddon to throw out the book once more

Tonight is Game 7 of the World Series.

Is Chapman starting for Chicago?

It was always all kinds of interesting — as usual — to read our Marc Topkin's blog out of Cleveland. It was on Cubs manager Joe Maddon saying that the Rays could have gone on a dynastic run much like the late-90s Yankees if they'd kept the club together.

Yes, that's pure fantasy baseball, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a shred of reality as we've watched a parade of former Rays in the postseasons over the last several seasons. You know them by name and by sight. Do we have to go over this again?

It reminded me of a session I had with Maddon before the season. He pined for what could have been.

"You look back at 2008, and the several years after that," he said. "What if we'd kept those guys together? What if we had augmented that? I've thought about that. Just imagine keeping that group together for a long time and just picking the right guys an improving it. It was all there. Carl. B.J. David. Shields. You put David and Shields together with the guys right now — oh, my God, oh, my God. What we could have done."

That same night, he talked about the 108-year-old Cubs drought and the Curse of the Billy Goat.

But not for long.

"It's a waste of time. Because I don't believe in it. Please. If I believe in that kind of stuff, then how do you live? Why would you ever believe in that? It's a great story. But it don't mean squat. It has nothing to do with putting a bunt down or making a pitch. If they play hard, if they give a s---, we'll be fine."

Of course, we all know that if Maddon wins tonight, he'll be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. And mayor of Chicago. He'll take home an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Nobel Prize. He'll get a Chicago slaw dog — with a touch of merlot — named in his honor. It will all be his, especially if he pulls it off after using closer Aroldis Chapman again in Game 7. Joe Ma at his best, throwing the book out. What book? That's what he always said.

Here's something else Maddon said, just after the Rays shocked baseball by making the 2008 postseason, worst to first. I'm thinking about it right now.

"Some people have to see it first," Maddon said from behind his glasses. "I think you believe it, then you see it."

It's Game 7 tonight. Wear your Halloween costume if you think of it. Or your pajamas. Joe likes dress-ups.

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