Perhaps a little groggy and gruff after a 42-hour celebration complete with rock star sing-alongs, the discovery and retrieval of Kyle Schwarber’s legendary homerun ball and a baseball watch party, the Cubs returned to work on Thursday.
As he stepped to the podium before an afternoon workout at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon bore the spoils of Tuesday’s victory to advance to the National League Championship Series in the form of a cold and an extra gravely voice.
Much like his players, Maddon relished the rare chance to enjoy a few days off in a city famished for a winner after the Cubs punched their ticket to the NLCS early with a Game 4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. With Game 1 of the NLCS not until Saturday night, the veteran manager thinks celebrating success is a perfect way for Cubs players to maintain a loose attitude that already has helped them advance through two postseason rounds.
“I’m hanging in there,” Maddon said. “It’s not easy having a good time.”
“I like the idea that they’re able to blow it off a little bit and then come back and refocus. I don’t want them grinding it too hard because that’s definitely going to get in the way.”
[SHOP: Buy Cubs playoff gear]
“I don’t want it misconstrued either -- it’s not like everybody’s a big party animal. “It’s just a matter of we have celebrated success.”
Have they ever.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Theo Epstein, the club’s president of baseball operations, took his scouting staff out to celebrate Tuesday’s win alongside ex-pitcher Kerry Wood, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and actor Joel Murray.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Dexter Fowler and catcher David Ross reportedly were seen clubbing on Tuesday. Footage of Vedder playing his Cubs tribute song “All The Way” at Jon Lester’s house early Wednesday morning also surfaced on the Internet.
Those events preceded Wednesday’s baseball watch party, where players convened to watch both American League playoff games and play video games.
“It’s nice to be able to celebrate without any consequences the next day,” Ross said. “(It’s) exhausting. Is that a good word? I’m tired of smiling if that can get ever old. It’s just been fun, the emotion and the celebrating with these guys that have never done it.”
Part of the fun adding to the fervor was the discovery of Schwarber’s homerun ball atop the right field scoreboard, a no-doubter ESPN.com lists as having traveled 438 feet at a velocity of 112.3 miles per hour.
After the ball was sighted, the Cubs had it authenticated, returned it to where it was found and determined it would remain encased there for the rest of the postseason.
“Pure genius,” Maddon said of the idea.
Starlin Castro has been here six seasons and he can’t quite wrap his head around what he has seen.
Whether it was the thousands of fans who stayed inside Wrigley Field and clogged the streets afterward or the many well-wishers who have congratulated him since,
Castro hasn’t experienced anything like this and hopes for more.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Castro said. “I just walked in the streets yesterday and it’s unbelievable. Everybody recognizes you even more now and everybody’s crazy, everybody’s happy.
“In all the years I have been here I’ve never seen the city like that and I think it’s going to be more fun if we keep playing like that.”
Outfielder Quintin Berry experienced Boston during a Red Sox World Series-title run in 2013. Berry gives the edge to Chicago when he compared the two.
The scene Tuesday -- with fans closing down Clark Street and helicopters hovering overhead after the Cubs clinched a postseason series at home for the first time in franchise history -- is one Berry won’t soon forget.
“This city might be a little hungrier,” Berry said. “Boston had won a couple of championships and they were still alive -- it’s one of the livest cities I’ve ever been in. But I think the fact it’s been 107 years since they’ve won a World Series and they feel like this the team, it definitely seems like this is a special team that’s capable of doing that, I think they’re feeding off of that and it’s getting really wild out here.
“It was amazing.
“The streets are packed and everybody’s live. It’s fun to be a part of something like that.”
While Maddon’s voice wasn’t as scratchy as Steven Tyler’s on ‘Sweet Emotion,’ the song that greeted the Cubs back to work on Thursday, it had the sound of a man who enjoyed the moment. Maddon said his normal routine had been disrupted and he felt it. He sounded ready for a quiet evening Thursday before his team boards a plane for Los Angeles or New York on Friday morning.
While he reportedly celebrated on Tuesday, Maddon didn’t make his way to Lester’s house for Vedder Jam -- “Not having the manager around is cool -- it’s cooler than if dad’s there,” he said.
He isn’t concerned that his players and coaching staff are having too much fun. This is a team that has enjoyed many victories this season with a smoke machine and disco lights. He knows they’ll be prepared when the time comes, citing he likes the way his team separates the two.
Maddon had no plans to attend a watch party Thursday and said he looked forward to some much-needed relaxation and a return to normalcy.
“I’ve got so little, few brain cells left,” Maddon said. “They’re on the endangered species list right now.
“I gotta catch up on some rest, man. I’m serious. I haven’t had a chance to ride my bike and do the whole routine, which is just kicking my butt a little bit right now. Any way I can get back into that routine I’m going to try to do that.”