Everyone knows that the Cubs won the World Series last year and led the division for all but one day of the season. But the road wasn't as easy as last year's team made it look. In Tom Verducci's wonderful book The Cubs Way, he pulls back the curtain to share a perspective that would have given Cubs fans even more anxiety than they already had going into the World Series:
"So this is how [Manager Joe] Maddon would begin the World Series for the Cubs, their first World Series game in 71 years: with a rightfielder making only his 19th start at that position all year, his $184 million left-handed-hitting rightfielder benched against a right-handed pitcher, not talking to a pitcher who has a mental block throwing to bases facing a team that led the American League in stolen bases, and a designated hitter who was seeing major league pitching for the first time in 201 days. What could possibly go wrong?" (p. 72)
It would have been easy for Maddon to make excuses or to become pessimistic after their first loss in the Series. After all, look at the circumstances he was facing. But of course he did not give up and made the most of the talent he had and the culture he had created all season long.
The next time the environment seems stacked against you, re-read the above paragraph and take heart. It is not the external that creates a win or loss, but rather the internal. Victory comes from within.
The Cubs Way by Tom Verducci, 2017.