Cubs Must Set Tone For Winning Culture

Northsiders Report Publisher
Posted Apr 29, 2012


As the Cubs' new front office works toward changing the organization's culture, it's essential for this year's team -- namely the veterans -- to lay a positive foundation, setting the tone for a bright future.

As Tony Campana strode toward home plate with the Cubs' game-winning run in Tuesday's contest, his teammates sprinted out from the dugout, sparking a wild celebration. Alfonso Soriano was doused with cold Gatorade on the chilly April night.

Many onlookers would best describe the scene as over-the-top. After all, the win brought the Cubs' record to 6-12 -- still buried in last place -- for the young season.

The Cubs shouldn't apologize for having a little fun. The team has scuffled in the opening weeks of the season, so Tuesday's excitement -- the Cubs' second consecutive walk-off win -- was warranted. It was a refreshing change for a team working through transition.

Theo Epstein was brought to Chicago in order to change the culture of Cubs baseball. His plan is long-term, not a quick fix.

There is no turmoil surrounding this Cubs team, no 800-pound gorilla in the clubhouse. Former problems Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano have been shipped out of Chicago. Most importantly, the team has not dwelled on its early-season struggles, which is why each triumph has been enjoyable.

The Cubs' new culture is in the beginning stages of installation, but each victory should be treated as such. Epstein ensured a positive clubhouse environment -- from top to bottom of the organization -- as a foundation is laid.


Kerry Wood will need to be an example for his young Cub teammates.

It was quite fitting that Soriano was the center of the jubilation. The sixth-year Cub was expected to be the team's cornerstone when he was signed, but failed to meet the high expectations. His on-field role has been significantly reduced, now.

Soriano is having fun with each game this season. There are no sideshows or distractions to worry about, he is purely focused on baseball, and having fun with it.

"It makes me (feel) young," Alfonso Soriano told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "Hanging out with these young guys and playing with them, it makes me happy. I know I'm 36 and have 11 years in the game, but I feel like this is my first year in the big leagues too."

As the team's elder statesman, Soriano is unlikely to be a part of the organization's bloom, but he still plays an important role. So do veterans like Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood and Reed Johnson.

Each veteran leader will be counted on to help establish the Cubs' new culture, by serving as a positive example for rising stars like Starlin Castro, Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo.

With each celebration, a culture of winning is implemented. The Cubs likely won't see consistent victories for at least a few years, but it's crucial to create a positive, winning environment in the beginning stages of change.

Enjoy each victory, Cubs. Go ahead, enjoy the thrill, have some fun. The organization's bright future may be filled with much more.

Chris Emma has covered college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports since 2009. He covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs.
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