Jason Heyward might have earned every penny of his $184 million contract with one speech Wednesday night.
Rajai Davis’ two-run homer shockingly tied Game 7 of the World Series for the Cleveland Indians in the eighth inning, and Heyward’s Chicago Cubs entered the 17-minute rain delay that preceded extra innings possibly feeling sorry for themselves.
That’s when Heyward stepped forward and rallied his teammates.
“That was the best thing for us,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told FOX Sports on the field after the game. “I mean, we all got together in the weight room, and, you know, we all supported each other. … Jason Heyward led the way. I mean, talking us up, getting us ready.”
Added Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo: “We just got together — honestly, Jason Heyward called a meeting, all the players, and we rallied together, we rallied strong. We knew that we could do this. We know we keep fighting, we never quit, we always say it, and we pull together, and the boys believed, and we won.”
Win the Cubs did, scoring two runs in the 10th inning to beat the Indians 8-7 and end a 108-year World Series championship drought.
“I just had to remind them who they were,” Heyward told FOX. “I just reminded everybody who we are, who these guys are, what we’ve overcome to get here. Win or lose, we never worry about that. … I’m proud of them. I say it all the time, but I’m proud of these guys.”
The veteran outfielder’s first season with the Cubs wasn’t easy on an individual level, as he hit just .230 with a career-low seven homers after signing his huge contract with the team. His struggles continued in the postseason as he went 2-for-28 combined in the National League Division and Championship Series, putting his status for the World Series in doubt. However, Cubs manager Joe Madden stuck with Heyward, playing him in six of the seven games.
And even though Heyward couldn’t speak with his bat — he had three singles in 20 at-bats — his words Wednesday night might have vaulted him into Chicago sports lore.
Thumbnail photo via Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports Images