GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t believe in the Sports Illustrated cover jinx.
The Cubs landed on the front of the magazine’s baseball preview with Sports Illustrated picking the Houston Astros — another team accused of tanking during a multiyear rebuild — to beat them in the World Series.
“Well, you know, just get us there,” Maddon said before Tuesday’s Cactus League game against the Cincinnati Reds at Goodyear Ballpark. “SI, please get us there. I’d be happy with that.”
All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward, Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant and Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta made the regional cover, which labels the group as “The Revenants: Out of The Desert, into the World Series (Finally).”
[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]
This is the same outlet that proclaimed Houston as “Your 2017 World Series Champs” back in 2014. The Astros puffed out their chests and granted behind-the-scenes access for that cover story, but their surprising breakthrough into the playoffs last season accelerated the timeline.
“It’s just part of the game, man,” Maddon said. “I’m sure they’ve been right on occasion. They’ve probably been wrong more than they’ve been right. But everybody’s wrong more than they’re right when it comes down to predicting who’s going to be where.”
Keep in mind that Sports Illustrated splashed the Cubs — and a high-stepping Pedro Strop — across the cover of last year’s Aug. 31 issue. The Cubs finished the regular season as the hottest team in baseball and eliminated the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals from the playoffs.
Cubs fans also remember the “It’s Gonna Happen” and “Hell Freezes Over” covers from the 2008 (Kosuke Fukudome) and 2004 (Kerry Wood) seasons that ended in bitter disappointment.
“I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on any of that,” Maddon said. “I think it’s great for the organization. Just like it’s great for the Rays now to be participating in the game in Cuba (with) the stage you got there. When you’re presented on the cover of Sports Illustrated, obviously, it’s a wonderful stage for us.
“But it doesn’t mean anything other than it’s good reading (and) great photography. When I was a kid, man, you couldn’t wait for that to come out.”
Cubs Talk Producer Tony Andracki contributed to this article.