The Cubtober Diary: The winds of change won’t do the same to Kyle
CHICAGO – A team, a fanbase and a city will breathe in some rare air on Friday night.
It’s going to be moving pretty quickly, too.
The first World Series game at Wrigley Field since 1945 will feature one of the trademark weather conditions for Game 3 – the wind blowing out. Right now they are expected to come out of the South at 15-30 miles per hour, straight out to centerfield and in the process creating a potential boon for hitters.
It would figure to have the opposite effect on the Cubs’ starter, considering the tendency of long fly balls carrying into the stands instead of the warning track in those conditions. This along with the pressure of being the first Cubs’ home World Series starter in 71 years would figure to get in the mind of Kyle Hendricks as Friday night approaches.
Joe Maddon says no. Unequivocally no, in fact.
“I just think that’s just who he is. I’ve only known him for two years now, but I’ve never seen him rush through anything,” said Maddon of Hendricks in a memorable few moments of reflection. “I’m sure he takes time brushing his teeth. I would imagine his cup of coffee takes two hours to drink. I mean, this guy is just, he just has this really — and he’s a good golfer.
“The great Walter Hagen on the day that he played, he slowed on everything that he does. I would bet that he has the slowest back swing in history. He is just that guy, he’s that guy.”
One the Cubs are happy to have on the mound on a seasonably warm and gusty night at Wrigley Field against an Indians team that has hit a postseason-high 13 homers over the past few weeks. Hendricks’ tendency to draw soft contact and a significant amount of ground balls is an advantage considering what might happen if anyone hits one into the jet stream.
Not that it’s really on Kyle’s mind, though.
“Other than that, whether the wind is blowing out or in, it’s going to be the same game plan for me,” said Hendricks “At the end of the day, making good pitches is going to get hitters out. If you’re trying to get fly balls, ground balls, you can get out of your routine or game plan.
“So regardless of factors, regardless what their hitters are doing, yeah, it’s going to be the same game plan.”
Following the one in his last start six days ago would be a good idea. In arguably his finest performance in three years in Major League Baseball, Hendricks pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings allowing just two hits in helping the Cubs to a Game 6 win to clinch the pennant. Six days of rest is also a good thing for Hendricks who has a 6-1 record with that amount or more time between starts this season with an ERA under 1.00.
“You can get out of that,” said Hendricks of his thought process on long rest or short, wind blowing in or out. “Like I said, it’s easy to have outside forces coming at you, the crowd, you never know what’s going to be going on in a game. If you can stay grounded and stay in that mindset, it’s enjoyable for me to try to find that state, that zone, I would say.
“You’ve got to have a love for the game, I think, to always be striving towards that. But it’s obviously a fun, fun part of the game for me.”
Even if the winds of change on a historic night may not be blowing in a favorable direction for himself.