Cubs

Joc Pederson describes how Cubs fans' energy fuels the team

Cubs
USA Today

Wrigley Field. The Chicago Cubs faithful. It's just different here. 

That's the ideology of this team and "The Friendly Confines." It's the rallying cry of fans on Twitter. Cubs manager and former player David Ross said "it doesn't get any better" than a summer weekend day game in a packed Wrigley Field.

All of which is to say, baseball matters on the North Side.

And for the first time as a Cubs player, Joc Pederson is experiencing Wrigley Field packed with fans after COVID-19 attendance restrictions were lifted in Chicago.

Asked to summarize the experience in one word, Pederson's answer was simple: "Amazing."

"Wrigley has a really cool, intimate environment where they're on top of you," Pederson said in an interview promoting Pepsi's Fly Your Fandom contest. "The closest is like in the dugout, you sit up on the bench and there's literally the first rows, you can touch hands with them. That's how close they are... In the outfield, the bleachers are right on top of you."

But for all the hallowed grounds' signature characters — the ivy on the outfield, the hand-operated center field scoreboard, the divisional flags — it's the fans that complete the atmosphere.

"It gives you an energy," Pederson said of the fans. "You vibe off their energy, whether it's a day game or night game that's sold out. The fans are screaming and doing the beer snake, all that good stuff.

 

"It's really cool. Even driving into the park, Wrigleyville after the game, all those bars around, like it's just a culture and it's a scene that once you show up, your energy just raises."

On Monday night, the Cubs could have used a dose of that energy.

Following a red eye flight from Los Angeles, the team landed in Milwaukee in the early-morning hours with the NL Central-leading Brewers eagerly waiting. The ensuing game, which featured two clubs separated by just three games in the standings, entered the eighth inning knotted 4-4.

But the Brewers blew the doors off in the bottom half of that frame, scoring 10 runs en route to a 14-4 victory.

"I wish we played at Wrigley today where they would provide the energy for [us]," Pederson said Monday before the game. "The fans are huge."

The Cubs are battling injuries and now evaluating whether relief pitcher Ryan Tepera needs rest just days after he threw part of a combined no-hitter. But the road doesn't get easier.

Another away series against the Cincinnati Reds awaits before the team returns to Wrigley and their fountain of energy. When they do take their home field again on July 5, the fans will be there to lift the morale of the team.

"I enjoy running out there for the first time every game and seeing them go nuts," Pederson said. "It's pretty cool.

"It's something that I'll cherish forever."

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