How To Bounce Off Of The Bench and Hit a Grand Slam (To Win A Playoff Game)

miguel-montero

How ‘bout ‘dem Cubs!

Up 3-1 in the 7th, the Cubs gave up the lead and, voila, the game was tied. So to the ninth inning and probably extra innings we go, right? Not with the third string catcher pinch hitting, we don’t. That’s right — the Cubs THIRD string catcher came in from off of the bench with bases loaded and 2 outs, and the count quickly ran to 0-2. But then, on the very next pitch, lightning struck.

When Miguel Montero stepped to the plate in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS to face Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton with two outs and the bases loaded, I’m guessing even the most optimistic of Cubs fans didn’t expect to see a grand slam.

Montero is a two-time All-Star with 120 career home runs, but he had struggled during the regular season, hitting .216 with just eight home runs in 241 at-bats. When Blanton ran the count to 0-2, it seemed we’d be headed to the ninth inning with a tie game and Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman out of the game. The hero of Game 1 gave Cubs fans everywhere hope and a view through a periscope towards a favorable near future.

Ironically, he was about as low as you can go for a major league baseball player, but Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero’s struggles never got him down to the point of mailing it in. Instead, he kept his head up and his attitude as positive as he could — and he waited for his moment.

That moment came in a big way Saturday night, as Montero became the third player ever to hit a postseason, pinch-hit grand slam, and he propelled the Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. It was an instant classic featuring more managerial second-guessing than a regular season’s worth.

“I’m not going to do any good to anybody being a cancer and being upset about it and being a cry baby,” Montero said of losing playing time. “I’m not going to be a cry baby. I’m going to keep my head up, and whenever they give me a chance, I’m going to take advantage of it.”  And take advantage of it he did. Montero hit a 0-2 slider — the third one he saw in the short at-bat — out to right field off Dodgers reliever Joe Blanton and sent the crowd of 42,376 into hysteria. 

“Obviously, as a kid, you always dream of the situations,” Montero said. “And that’s what you live for. It’s easy to hit a grand slam in the first inning when nobody is actually screaming at it, and this one is a lot more special because it’s in front of this special crowd that we have, and you’re always looking for that.” (Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer)

montero

I love this part about Montero: he did not complain, mumble or grumble. Instead, “he kept his head up and his attitude as positive as he could — and he waited for his moment.”

And that’s what I’m going to do too.

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