They’ve had national sports shows plop sets near third base while they’re taking batting practice. Self-proclaimed worldwide leaders in broadcasting are sending crews to air the Cubs on Wednesday for already the third time this season.
And Tuesday Bob Costas and Eddie Vedder were in the house for the Cubs-Mets game at Wrigley Field.
Bob Freaking Costas.
If you weren’t sure in April that the Cubs were becoming a big deal, check out the way Kris Bryant’s going viral in May. And just wait until the weather gets warm and rest of the bleachers are open.
“It’s nice. And we need this. We need the attention,” said All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo before the heralded young Cubs beat heralded Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard 6-1 in Syndergaard’s major league debut.
“Just watching – I don’t know what it’s like – but I see all the media coverage in the playoffs, and being at the All-Star game last year with all the media coverage there.
“It’s good to get it. You’ve got to get used to it. Can’t let it affect you either.”
If, when and where the playoffs come into focus, it has to start somewhere for a Cubs team whose early winning record is heady stuff after five straight fifth-place seasons.
Jake Arrieta, who faced the minimum through seven innings and got through eight to upstage Syndergaard, was where the Cubs started on this Tuesday night in a game that matched some of the marquee young talent in the game.
The Cubs second win in as many nights against the Mets featured three rookie starters and a rookie off the bench for the Cubs against two rookie starters and two more out of the bullpen and one off the bench for the National League East-leading Mets.
The hard-throwing Syndergaard, who shut out the Cubs until a three-run sixth was “as advertised,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
“Electric,” said Arrieta (4-3).
Added Maddon: “You have to pitch well to beat good pitching, and we did tonight. Jake was outstanding.”
But so was a touted young lineup. The five everyday players 25-and-under for the Cubs combined to go 9-for-20 with four walks and six extra-base hits.
That included Kris Bryant, Baseball America’s top-ranked prospect, who missed hitting for the cycle for lack of a double – including his second infield single on a routine grounder in five games. It led to 18 extra pitches for Syndergaard in the third inning.
“Anytime somebody beats out a ground ball like that, they can’t be too happy about it,” said Rizzo, who doubled and walked three times.
Bryant: “I believe that if you play the game the right way it treats you the right way back.”
His homer in the eighth was the second in as many nights for the guy who led professional baseball with 43 last year — third in four games after going homerless in his first 20 big-league games.
The Cubs had lost seven of nine before opening this series against their mirror-image counterparts in big-market, youth-movement rebuilding.
Whether these two teams ever wind up in the same place at the same time in October, the talk shows, cameras and Costases are certain to continue to follow their every move.
“That’s what you want,” said Maddon, who managed a young, unheralded Tampa Bay Rays team into the bright lights of the 2008 World Series.
“Once you taste it, once you get that blood in the water, you want more. Once you get to the playoffs, nothing else satisfies you going into a season.
“You’ve got to get there the first time. You’ve got to learn how to do it. And once you learn how to do it, nothing satisfies you during that baseball season unless you get back to the dance.”