Sandberg, Ricketts rave about Cubs' historic start

Sandberg, Ricketts rave about Cubs' historic start

CHICAGO -- Ryne Sandberg played 15 seasons with the Cubs in his Hall of Fame career, but he said he's never seen anything like this.

Sandberg and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts represented the organization Wednesday at a Play Ball Weekend event at Chicago's Hawthorne Scholastic Academy, and both raved about the team's nearly unprecedented start to the season.

Cubs host Play Ball event

"It's just a team that is put together with a lot of talent, great energy and such a positive feeling about them," Sandberg said. "It's hard for me to compare that to anything I really experienced, so I'm really enjoying it from the stands."

Sandberg was with the Cubs from 1982-94 and again from 1996-97, but he played on only two playoff teams. Things are obviously different now.

"It's incredible, what the team has done, but when you watch them day in and day out like I have and like we all have, you almost come to expect it," Sandberg said. "Somebody's gonna come through."

Before falling to the Padres, 7-4, in the opener of a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday, the Cubs had a 25-6 record, matching the 1907 team for the best start in franchise history.

"We have, for years, been frustrated by the fact it's difficult to get off to a good start," Ricketts said. "You have weather issues, you're figuring out who's going to play where. It's really a challenge to get off to a good start. We wanted to get off to a good start this year, and we certainly accomplished that. Now we just have to keep it rollin'."

The Cubs have won via the pitching of Jake Arrieta and the hitting of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but they have also won with the help of unlikely heroes -- most recently Javier Baez, who hit a walk-off homer to end Sunday's 13-inning duel with the Nationals.

"There's really no weak link that I see," Sandberg said. "There seems to be guys coming through each day. That's when there's no pressure on any one player. It's just a matter of who's turn it's going to be to be out there doing the interview and doing the ice bucket on the back of the head.

"And when that happens, I think the players really tend to look to that. They want to be that guy that's out there and gets that treatment after the game."

Ricketts also spoke about his faith in front-office gurus Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, plus the undeniable likability of manager Joe Maddon and his young players. It's all made for a fun 30-plus baseball games, and love for the Cubs is just beginning to catch on.

"We always have a lot of fans," Ricketts said. "But I think they're more excited than other years because we are off to the best start in the league and our best start in over 100 years. I think it's going to be a really special, magical season at Wrigley [Field] this summer."

Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.