Kyle Schwarber seemed more impressed Thursday with Jose Bautista’s bat flip than he is with the uproar caused by the search for his celebrated homerun ball.
A day after news cameras discovered the Cubs rookie’s prodigious homer, which led to its temporary enshrinement atop the right field scoreboard at 101-year-old Wrigley Field, Schwarber admitted he enjoyed it to have his moment recognized.
But Schwarber -- who for most of his media session before Thursday’s workout answered questions about the legendary blast -- seemed much more comfortable discussing the legendary bat flip by Bautista, whose three-run homer Wednesday helped the Toronto Blue Jays advance to the American League Championship Series.
“I thought it was awesome,” Schwarber said. “That was one of the best games I’ve seen in a while. It shows you crazy how baseball is and how in the playoffs little mistakes can come back to haunt you. The Blue Jays did a good job taking advantage of what they got from Texas and Bautista put a good swing on the ball.”
Schwarber’s teammates displayed as much reverence for the entire saga surrounding his towering homer to start the seventh inning of Tuesday’s victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
For starters, Dexter Fowler and Starlin Castro both said Schwarber called his shot in the half inning before he hit it off left-hander Kevin Siegrist. Secondly, television footage from the TBS game broadcast never determined where the 438-foot drive landed.
It wasn’t until Wednesday that a news crew in a helicopter discovered the ball that the Cubs finally located Schwarber’s third postseason homer. The team then had the ball authenticated and returned to the location, determining to encase it where it had been found for the rest of the postseason.
“At first none of us really knew where the hell the thing went,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “But we saw that it landed on top of the scoreboard, saw the glass case and some of the pictures that they did and how they were going to kind of preserve that. I think that’s unique. I started talking to Schwarbs and saying: ‘That’s amazing. That’s history right there.’
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“Whether they leave it up there long-term or not, or they put it in the Hall of Fame or wherever, it’s just a really cool thing for a guy like him to be able to experience and tell people about. That’s something he’ll remember forever.”
Much like Schwarber called his shot, Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested the team did exactly as he would have in how they handled the ball. He’s excited the ball will remain atop the brand new scoreboard for the rest of October and perhaps early November, too.
“It’s pure genius,” Maddon said. “The way the tradition and lore are dealt with around here, that could withstand the test of time. Now they definitely have to keep that scoreboard intact, right? If there’s any consideration to do anything differently, you’ve got to keep it there now.”
Asked repeatedly about the topic, Schwarber admitted the club’s gesture is “cool” and he’s honored to be part of Wrigley Field’s history. But Schwarber was far more eager to discuss Bautista’s feat, which perhaps traveled even farther in bat flip inches.
“If it’s probably the middle of the season, you probably say ‘Calm down,’ ” Schwarber said. “But for him to do that right there in that spot, you’re in a state of awe.”