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Brett Jackson may be the kind of leader the Cubs desperately need

Brett Jackson may be the kind of leader the Cubs desperately need

Brett Jackson's catch yesterday has everyone still buzzing. Tom and I have both written about Brett Jackson inspired by that catch. It brought on thoughts on Jackson's potential leadership ability, media expectations, and whether or not Jackson can hit enough to make any of it matter. We decided to break it up into three different pieces and the first is on Jackson and his potential to be the kind of leader the Cubs have lacked for years...

If there is anyone who puts his money where his mouth is, it's Brett Jackson.  He said the following regarding his catch yesterday,

“That’s the type of player I am,” Jackson said. “I’ve always been that way. I’ll go through a wall for the team and that was a big moment for Travis (Wood) and for us. We’d lost six in a row, and seven runs didn’t seem like it was enough at the time. I don’t really have a second gear. I’m going to go for those balls. I’m sure people will tell me to take care of my body, but making that play was a little more important at the time.”

In case you missed it, here's a look at that play again,

Jackson hit his head on the fence and his knee hit some sort of "padding". In an epic collision, neither Jackson or the wall seemed willing to give.

Thankfully, Jackson is okay.

“Did a little inventory check while I was down, but got my knee pretty good,” Jackson said. “It’s good though. Looks like it’s just going to be a pretty bad bruise. The X-rays were negative. Just got it right on my kneecap. I guess I was pretty lucky. The doctor was saying if my foot was down when I hit (the wall) it would be a (posterior cruciate ligament). But because my foot was in the air, it was able to bend.”

(Exhale)

Getting back to Jackson and the fact that he'll literally go through a wall (or at least try) for the team, I have to admit it has probably made him one of my favorite players. It reminded me of one of my first favorite players as a kid: Fred Lynn. He was from Chicago. He was the MVP, All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and won a Gold Glove in the first year I truly started to watch baseball everyday.

The reason I bring up Lynn is because of the beating he took for his team, sometimes at the detriment of his own health and career. Like Jackson, he only had one gear. But Lynn also inspired his team and led the Red Sox to the World Series in 1975, a team that gave the vaunted Big Red Machine all they could handle in the World Series. How could you not play hard everyday when you had someone literally willing to go through a wall in your everyday lineup?

Jackson has a long way to go before he's the kind of ballplayer Fred Lynn was. The strikeouts have been talked about ad nauseum, and we'll address that in a separate article, but if he gets them under control, Jackson has the potential to be one of the potential leaders of this team. Anthony Rizzo is looked on as a future leader as well, but he is more of the Andre Dawson/Derrek Lee type leader, the kind of guy who remains cool and stabilizes the team even in the face of adversity.

Jackson, on the other hand, is the Yang to Rizzo's Yin. He's intense. You can see it in every AB and in the way he chases down flyballs as if he is tracking down scud missiles. He's the kind of guy who is going to ignite the team with a big play.

The kind of guy who will go through a wall for you.

The kind of guy every good team needs to have.

The kind of guy the Cubs have lacked for years.

In an era where we've seen too many Cubs players choose comfort over winning, Jackson is exactly the opposite. He wants what's best for his team over what ultimately might be best for himself. Players say they want to win, but how many are willing to lay it all out on the field the way Jackson did last night? How do you think teammates feel when they have a player behind them who will do whatever is necessary to help the club?

There isn't one single event that will mark the Cubs eventual turnaround. There was the acquisition and call-up of Anthony Rizzo, the commitment to Starlin Castro...and of course, it all started with the hiring of Theo and his crack staff in the first place.

But I think when we look back, one of the things we can add to the list will be "The Catch".

Later today, Tom will delve into a twitter discussion inspired by Jackson's play with some thoughts on media expectations and Cubs prospects.

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  • It nice that a young player knows the meaning of "There is no
    "I" in team" Crashing into a wall should not be a habit to learn.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think guys like that only know how to play one way. It's something we'll have to live with, probably. Lots of great teams have those kinds of players.

    But the Cubs may need to have a better than normal 4th OF'er. Maybe that will be Matt Szczur or Junior Lake's ultimate role.

  • Didn't Bill Mueller dislocate his knee as a Cub by running into a wall?

    Jeez - I think that was about 10 years ago already!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Wow, I'd forgotten about that completely. Time flies!

  • Well said John. I was eluding to the same thing when I said some of our youngsters could use a little more Bryce Harper in them. I loved seeing that intensity out of Jackson. Castillo has flashed it too. We've seen it in Boise. The future sure is bright....

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    You definitely need that on your team. I can't wait until the Cubs annoy other teams the way the Nats annoy the Cubs!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    wholesale changes in player development today.... Minor League staff dismissed include Dave Bialas, Casey Kopitske, Barbaro Garbey, Marty Mason, Frank Castillo & Jason Dubois.

    I'd have thought they were planning on Barbaro kind of looking after Soler's acclimation......

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Hey Hoosier - where did you see that?

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Interesting..

    Desi Wilson, the hitting coach at Daytona did a fantastic job, in my opinion. It seems to me that Mariano Duncan at AA has done a good job in a couple of areas, so maybe no spot to team Soler and Garbey.

    The Peoria team, though, didn't hit as well as expected, except for Baez and Soler -- and they did that largely on their own natural talents.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Makes you wonder if any Boise coaches are worried/concerned about anything other than Vancouver....

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    In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    Frank Castillo was in the Cubs organization?

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't wait for this either.. The Nationals really got under my skin..

  • These values should be engrained into our very young prospects
    from the beginning. It is to their best interest to learn these early.
    Coaches and managers notice this and put it on their evaluation.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think Dale Sveum is both enamored and terrified with Jackson's all-out play.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    John, if I remember correctly, he was higher on BJAX than he was on Rizzo in Spring Training....

  • In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    I may have been. I don't remember either. It was close either way. The thing about Jackson is he plays CF and he can rely on other parts of his game if he doesn't hit. But you still need him to hit around .260 if he's going to be an above average regular. So if that doesn't happen, I'd have a hard time saying he's more valuable than Rizzo. Right now Rizzo definitely has the edge.

  • Not to pee in everyone's soup, but that just looks like he took a bad line on the ball and made the play harder than it had to be. Watch it again and check out the route he took.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Maybe. I didn't mean to imply that this was about the artistry of the catch. It was more about illustrating what kind of player Jackson is and what it may mean to a young Cubs team.

  • Reminds me a Reed Johnson's hustle.

  • In reply to Pura Vida:

    Reed Johnson hustle but with good tools too -- though it would be nice if he could make contact the way Reed does.

  • I have always liked Jackson as a player his Ks concern me. But Love the rest of his game. I would like to see him bat higher in the lineup to take advantage of his ability to get on base ans speed. Will be an All Star I am not sure maybe if he gets the Ks under control. But he will be a solid part of the Cubs line up if he continues to play the way is

  • In reply to WickitCub:

    Ks will always be a concern with him. Hopefully he can improve that rate to a manageable level.

  • I hope he doesn't continue running into walls as a method of being an inspirational leader. We had one of those already, who only lasted 5 or so years in the majors - "Tarzan" Joe Wallis.

    http://tinyurl.com/9cxznde

  • In reply to SFToby:

    On the other hand, Fred Lynn had a pretty good career and played until he was 38. Playing hard in it of itself doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a short career. Tarzan Wallis' lack of talent had a lot to do with him lasting only 5 years.

    For me, it's not the act of running into walls per se, it's about a player that is willing to leave it all out on the field and play with that kind of intensity. When was the last time the Cubs had that kind of grinder with actual tools?

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I remember that, but he was a cult hero to a lot of fans. Jackson's style of play reminds me of someone I've seen a lot of out here where I live - Eric Byrnes.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Not bad, but hope Jackson lasts longer than that too!

  • I see that long time sportswriter Joe Mooshil passed. Very good writer for the AP, and one of the few reporters in Chicago who could easily have been cast in the Sopranos.

    http://tinyurl.com/9df34ve

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    This line seems to me to be the key: "I’ll go through a wall for the team and that was a big moment for Travis (Wood) and for us." It can really be interpreted in one of two ways, and his teammates will interpret it based on how he's behaved outside of this catch.

    There's a chance that this is arrogance -- a rookie speaking down, "It was a big moment for Travis, and thank God he had someone who plays all out like me to save him."

    But, the more positive way to look at it is that this was genuine. Travis Wood has go to be willing to lose his non-pitching arm for this guy right now, if he was willing to do that to his body because, "it was a big moment for Travis."

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't think it was arrogance at all. The only hit Travis surrendered was a double that B-Jax (IMO) should have caught. But he didn't. That's what broke up the No-No. There was runners on 1st & 2nd and 2 outs so if B-Jax, doesn't make that catch, there goes the shut-out and possibly "W" for T Wood.

    Here's a quote from B-Jax: “I was pissed I missed the first one. Almost inexcusable. Gotta catch that ball and I wasn’t going to let another one drop.”

  • Many ballplayers ran into walls....but I remember a player named Rodney McCray who went through an outfield wall.....I bet the video is on you tub somewhere.....

    Joe Wallis...that crazy nut drove a motorcycle off a second floor balcony into a swimming pool......also broke up a Tom Sever no hitter in the bottom of the 9th with two outs......

    Kirby Puckett....he never ran into walls to catch a ball....he climbed them to catch balls......

    Seems that Theo gave all the left overs of Hendry gang to prove their salt in the past year with his system............that is why Theo will have his own people in place when the new Cubs vision gets really going..

  • I am already a big fan of Jackson's and I am not surprised by this play as he has shown all the qualities John talked about. Cut down on the K's and I think we have another block.

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