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The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse Hardcover – March 28, 2017
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"One of the best baseball stories ever, told by one of the best baseball writers ever. It does not get any better than this." —George F. Will
“Few who have covered the game in any era can match Tom Verducci's combination of baseball insight and elegance as a writer. Those dual qualities make him the perfect guy to not only capture the experience of what the Cubs at long last achieved, but to explain the thinking and planning that led to last Fall's crescendo of emotions.” —Bob Costas
"Verducci, a longtime baseball writer for Sports Illustrated, is perhaps the perfect scribe to tell this definitive tale, a generational talent who can talk numbers and remain awed at the game’s beauties. In one moment he’s describing player valuations, and in the next he’s admiring a grand painting. And to fully understand a modern-day championship team, that’s essential." —The Washington Post
“The Cubs Way is a lush accounting of one of the most thrilling championship runs in American sports history—by the numbers and by the personalities that made it happen.” —The Wall Street Journal
"The Cubs' epic triumph almost demanded that Tom Verducci, arguably the best baseball writer of this generation, weigh in with his perspective. The longtime Sports Illustrated veteran delivers in a big way with unique analysis that takes a deep, deep dive in trying to explain the wizardry of Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Joe Maddon and the entire Cubs braintrust." —The Chicago Tribune
“A must-read for any Cubs fan.” —SB Nation
“In Mr. Verducci’s entertaining book, he notes that the ‘construction of a championship team is granular’ and the ‘final picture is a Seurat painting’ with ‘many tiny dots of color’ and ‘millions of reasons and thousands of cascading events.’ He’s right: The artistic brush containing the power of positivity helped make the Chicago Cubs winners once more.” —The Washington Times
About the Author
Tom Verducci is Sports Illustrated's senior baseball writer and a three-time winner of the National Sportswriter of the Year Award. He is also a two-time Emmy Award-winning game and studio analyst for FOX Sports and MLB Network. He was the co-writer of The Yankee Years with Joe Torre.
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It is not a great work of literature, but there is some pretty writing. It is also, first and foremost, about the team and the Cubs organization - there are no fan interviews, no attempts to situate the incredible 2016 season in the broader cultural context of that crazy year. The story, and the people in it, exist in isolation. But it is a beautiful story about good people, and for any baseball fan, a well-written dive into the best baseball story of the last century. Highly recommended for a Cubs fan, recommended for a baseball fan, and enjoyable enough for anyone else.
There are three major elements to this 363 page book - how key players were acquired, how some of the innards of baseball applied to the 2016 Cubs, and how each of the seven games of the World Series played out. By innards I mean all those components that impacted on players' performance throughout the year - from sabremetrics to pitchers' release points to Maddon's witty sayings. For example, ever hear of TrackMan? This is a system that provides information on a pitcher's speed, spin rate, spin axis, release point, and stride. I give Verducci tons of credit for introducing such material without inducing reader drowsiness. He covers a number of interesting details of the game like this without getting too techie; he always seemed to have the right balance of not too much, not too little. Ditto for his occasional mentions of how sabremetrics continues to develop to as a management tool and how pitching coaches work with pitchers to fine tune their mechanics. I particularly enjoyed a detailed chapter on how the Cubs negotiated with Jon Lester to sign with them as free agent. Verducci also goes in-depth to describe Jake Arrieta's performance, mechanics and regimen - not just as one of the all-time greats for the Cubs, but also as one of the all time worsts for the Orioles.
Interwoven with chapters on acquisitions and performance, are chapters on each of the seven games of the 2016 World Series. I watched each of those games, heard a lot of analysis of the games during their telecast (including a lot by on-air Verducci) but still learned a lot by reading some of his comments on the games in "The Cubs Way".
It's not a perfect book. But what I felt to be flaws were only minor things. He mentions -perhaps on three or four different points in the book Rizzo's naked recitation of great inspirational movie lines; it makes the book feel like some of the chapters were written in a vacuum. Some players are mentioned to illustrate a particular point, e.g. Stephen Ridings and TrackMan, an though it's not key to the point Verducci is making, readers, particularly this one, want to know "OK, thanks for telling me the Cubs drafted him in the 8th round of 2016 but where's Ridings now? How's he doing?". But those are nits. This is a 5 star book. A winner for Cubs fans, a winner for most baseball fans.
The book is divided in coverage discussing both key players and the brain trust—Epstein, Hoyer, Maddon and several other front office people and coaches. In this way, I think this appeals to both baseball fans, but people who find the business side of baseball fascinating as well.
In a book where the outcome is known: Cubs win World Series, much of the country erupts into mass hysteria, it would’ve been easy as a matter of presentation to just blow through the seven games in a rapid fire way, but Verducci alternates between one of the World Series games and a key development in the creation of the team that was a nice touch to make Cubs fans earn the win by finishing the book.
If you want to know How the Cubs won for personal or business reasons, I suggest you start with The Cubs Way.