Imrem: Schwarber prime example of Cubs' family values
Many sports organizations talk about being a family but only a few truly are.
The Cubs conduct the business of baseball like they really mean it.
Kyle Schwarber is the latest example.
The young slugger was the designated hitter Tuesday night in the Cubs' 6-0 loss at Cleveland in Game 1 of the World Series.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, "How about Schwarber, having not played all year, with a couple really good at-bats."
Many believed it was dumb to think Schwarber could be productive after a knee injury kept him from facing big-league pitching since April.
Count me among the skeptics.
No, I wouldn't have activated Schwarber this week.
Count the Cubs among the believers.
While Schwarber was rehabbing, his clubhouse family encouraged him. When doctors cleared him to play, his front-office family said, "Play ball!"
Once again, those Cubs people look smarter than the rest of us.
Schwarber struck out flailing in his first at-bat but then doubled off the nasty Corey Kluber and worked a walk off the nastier Andrew Miller.
"After the game," Cubs catcher David Ross said with a smile, "we congratulated him on his first hit of the year."
Finally, as the tying run in the eighth inning, Schwarber struck out against Miller.
Still, not bad for starters.
"There was no negative atmosphere surrounding his at-bats," Maddon said.
The Cubs have been pretty consistent regarding their family values.
Utility infielder Tommy La Stella was a less prominent case in August when he didn't report after being demoted to the minor leagues.
Outraged fans and media wanted the Cubs to release La Stella and never let him wear their colors again.
Instead, the Cubs treated La Stella like most of us would a troubled family member.
Something was bothering La Stella. He had issues and needed time to sort them out. When he was ready to return they welcomed him back, though he didn't survive the World Series roster cut.
Schwarber, who underwent major knee surgery after being injured during the first week of the season, was finished ... except he wasn't.
According to Schwarber, "(Cubs reliever) Pedro Strop said all along, 'Man, you're going to be back for the World Series.'"
And he is.
"They were a big rock in my rehab," Schwarber said of his teammates and organization.
Schwarber's brothers, cousins, fathers and uncles in the Cubs' family witnessed how hard he worked all season to get ready for 2017 spring training and marvel that he's ready for the 2016 World Series instead.
"He absolutely will start (Game 2)," Maddon said. "He definitely passed the eye test at the plate."
Schwarber's dedication to rehab was rewarded with a spot on the World Series roster but it wasn't charity.
The Cubs expected that even after such a long layoff, Schwarber's talent and instincts would translate into big hits in the biggest games of the season.
"He has missed the entire year physically but he has not missed the entire year mentally," Maddon said. "I have a lot of faith in him."
Whatever happens during the rest of this best-of-seven series, if nothing else the Cubs will have reinforced their family culture.
Oh, brother, maybe next month they'll all get together for Thanksgiving dinner.