How the Chicago Cubs went from pretenders to contenders

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Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Maddon gets his team dancing.

It was March 30th, and the Chicago Cubs just cut Kris Bryant, who led all players in home runs during Spring Training.

Many people thought that the only reason for that move was because the Cubs wanted to gain an extra season of control of Bryant before he could become a free agent.

Even though other teams do the same thing as what the Cubs did, somehow it became a story throughout baseball. People said the Cubs were not interested in winning over money. They said this was a travesty to baseball.

Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, decried the Cubs’ action, and the players’ union considered filing a grievance.

This was Maddon’s first opportunity to display his out-of-the-box thinking. He could have lost some of the players’ faith in him if he handled the situation badly.

So what did Maddon do?

He had his players dance.

Yes, the next day at practice, he had some DJ equipment set up and he held a dance party. Maddon and strength coach Tim Buss took turns dancing, then all the players went at it.

Some may consider that to be minor league stuff, but the veterans appreciate that as much as the younger kids do. David Ross can attest to that.

“If you’re on another team, looking on the outside in, you’re, like, `Oh, that’s all for show,’ but I promise you that’s the most fun stretch I’ve ever had in my major-league career,” Ross said. “It brought so much energy to a day with all the other distractions. Maybe it wasn’t planned that way, but I had the best stretch I’ve had.”

Maddon got his team to forget about the distraction of the Byrant demotion and concentrate on the job at hand. It was the first time he got to do it, but it certainly was not the last time he did it.

Next: The Cubs Got Swept By Who?