You've undoubtedly heard the word "accountability" floated around the Cubs in the two-and-a-half months since the 2019 season ended.
More than likely, you've heard it uttered long before that regarding the Cubs and their desire — nay, NEED — for "accountability" around the team.
But what is accountability? What form does it take? Why is it so important?
Five years ago Joe Maddon was the right guy at the right time for the Cubs, the celebrity manager adept at managing the clubhouse and forming a winning culture. But over the last couple years, his laid-back ways turned into less of a strength and more of a weakness.
It became clear to Theo Epstein and those in charge that a change was needed.
One such change is the need for more accountability, putting players in their place and enacting consequences for stepping out of line. That is a major point of emphasis for new manager David Ross.
Ross himself admitted "the accountability thing is a real thing" last week in his first solo session with the Chicago media as Cubs manager. He said he's already chatted with several players on the roster about the need for leadership and accountability inside the clubhouse.
So...what does this buzzword mean to Ross?
"It's just about the quality of at-bats and the things that you expect. When you communicate with your players and your team of what you expect and you don't see that, then you have to say something," he said on SportsTalk Live. "I equate it a lot to being a dad. I want to have fun with my kids. I want to love my kids, but when my kids act up and do things that I don't expect them to do or things that I feel like is misbehaving, I got to call that out or else they’re not going to have any structure in their life.
"I just want to create a little structure from the top now from my seat and get these guys back to what I know they’re capable of doing and again, what winning looks like and holding them accountable of, when you see it maybe going the other way."
The key word in there might be "structure." Ross is aiming to bring more structure to the group, and that's exactly what his bosses are asking of him.
The Cubs brass felt players took advantage of Maddon's no-rules clubhouse and that was part of the impetus behind the managerial change.
That's not to say the Cubs will move forward as if the Maddon Era never happened, but Ross is actually banking on a rude awakening for the players when they report to spring training.
"I hope it's a shock for the players. I'm kind of relying on that," Ross said. "I want to be different. As much as Joe brought to the table and all that I respect that he's done — I will keep a lot of the music on, I like the vibe that he created. I will mix up some things early on. There will be a little bit more structure."
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