2016 Cubs Convention: Cy Young Winners

The 2015 season was spectacular for Jake Arrieta, as he captured the NL Cy Young Award after posting a 22-6 record and a sparkling 1.77 ERA. Jim Deshaies hosted this panel with Arrieta and former Cubs right-hander Rick Sutcliffe (NL Cy Young 1984). Each former Cub great relived their award-winning seasons.

Cubs television broadcaster Jim Deshaies (who posted an 84-95 career record with a 4.14 ERA in 12 big league seasons) kicked off the Cy Young panel by informing people that Fergie Jenkins was unable to attend. So it will just be Sutcliffe and Arrieta. Both Sutcliffe and Arrieta get a standing ovation when they’re introduced.

Sutcliffe was in Cleveland before he came to Chicago and said he was pitching well, but no one noticed because the team wasn’t good. Once he came to Chicago, he felt like he had a 5-0 lead before he ever took the mound every game because the Cubs were so good.

Arrieta says there’s no better city to have success in than Chicago. He says it took a lot of failure for him to get to this point a a pitcher, but he worked hard until it all culminated in last season. He says he felt like there was a point last season around midseason where he kind of “blacked out.” He woke up months later a Cy Young winner.

Sutcliffe compared Arrieta’s 2015 season to Bob Gibson’s, after which they lowered the mound to benefit hitters.

Deshaies talks about the inevitability of Arrieta’s no-hitter. He says everyone saw it coming because of how close he’d gotten in the past. Arrieta said he wants the next one to happen at Wrigley Field.

Next up is the question and answer session:

  • Arrieta talks about how much pitching coach Chris Bosio, who also threw a no-hitter has helped him. Arrieta has been picking the brains of guys like Bosio and Sutcliffe to find out how they go about their business. Arrieta says in Baltimore he was trying to make too many changes and getting away from what was comfortable to him. He got back to being himself in Chicago.
  • A fan compliments Arrieta on his beard and asks for some advice on growing a good one. Arrieta says it comes from his dad (as does the back hair). He said his dad is a very hairy man.
  • Sutcliffe says he would have given away his Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards to win a championship here. Arrieta agrees. The goal is to win with 25 other guys and enjoy it with your team. But to be clear, they both loved winning the award.
  • Arrieta’s family knew he won the award before he did. They were bringing champagne out to the patio, and he didn’t know what was going on.
  • Sutcliffe says the only difference after winning the award is it takes longer to sign your name because people want you to put “Cy Young winner” and the year. Deshaies says that’s why he decided not to win one.
  • Sutcliffe says winning the Cy Young changed his life. He’s not sure ESPN ever would have called if that hadn’t happened.
  • Sutcliffe says one of the guys he surprisingly did really well against in his career is George Brett. He has no idea why he was so good against Brett. He jokes he did hit him with a few pitches. Sutcliffe also says Mike Schmidt killed him. Actually, both him and Lee Smith.
  • Sutcliffe says the hardest worker he was ever around was Trevor Hoffman, but Arrieta surpasses that. Sutcliffe has never seen anyone as physically prepared as Arrieta. Sutcliffe says all Arrieta does is work out.
  • Arrieta says he does about three hours of stretching and Pilates before a game starts to get his body as ready as he can get it.
  • Arrieta says the team is really like a family. And winning with that family is the most important thing. He says David Ross is like his granddad. Lester and Lackey are like his older uncles.
  • Arrieta says he thinks he will be a little less stubborn about coming out of games in 2016 so he can save more innings for October. Maddon is good about trying to save innings on his pitchers’ arms.
  • Sutcliffe talks about how the game has changed. There were 39 complete games in the majors last year. Fergie Jenkins had close to 30 in a single year. Sutcliffe wanted to pitch deep into games, but bullpens were not as specialized back then.
  • Arrieta talks about how he gave it to Pirates fans on social media before the Wild Card game, so he had to go deep into that game to back it up.
  • Arrieta says Pittsburgh and St. Louis are his favorite teams to play against because the stakes are higher. They’re always trying to beat those divisional teams. He also says he gets up a little more for St. Louis because Matt Carpenter is one of his closest friends (they played together at TCU). He can’t let Carpenter beat him.
  • Arrrieta says outside expectations are always lower than his personal expectations for himself. He feels like he should dominate every time out. He says he never second guesses himself. He does everything in his power to prepare himself. Inside the lines on game days is the fun part. They real work is the four days in between.
  • Arrieta talks about how good Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke were this year and how he knew it would be tough to beat them in Cy Young voting. Mind you, they already have multiple Cy Young awards between them. Arrieta thought he should get one this year since he didn’t already have one.
  • Both talk about how hard it is to pitch day games after a night game. It’s tough to wind down after night games or get to bed before 3 a.m. With travel, there are times the team doesn’t get home until very late and then has to play again that afternoon.
  • Both talk about the new clubhouse. Sutcliffe says he wonders where the Ricketts family was 30 years ago.
  • Arrieta says he developed his funky throwing motion as a kid. That’s when he started to throw like that and it just stuck. There are no perfect mechanics. People complain about how he throws across his body, but 80 percent of lefties throw that way. Plus, his delivery does help him create some deception and really hide the ball.
  • Arrieta talks about how important diet is to him. He works out a ton (obviously), but a clean diet really is the key. He says he started eating well at an early age. Training and nutrition were always important to him.
  • Arrieta says the mustache onesie after the Dodgers no-hitter was a little tight, but it felt good. He got it in Tennessee when he was there for a short rehab assignment a few years ago. He bought it then thinking he might need it someday. He says that night in LA was the first time he put it on.
  • Sutcliffe says his “I made it to the big leagues” moment was in 1976. He struck out Steve Henderson four times in a game in the minor leagues. The next day Henderson got traded to the Mets in a deal for Tom Seaver. It made reaching the majors seem more realistic.
  • Arrieta says his moment was a slower burn because he had a sense the call was coming. But when he made the drive from Norfolk, Virginia, to Baltimore for his first game, he realized he was facing the Yankees the next day. And the first batter up was Derek Jeter. That was the moment he really felt like he made it.
  • Sutcliffe talks about helping Chicago get to the playoffs for the first time in 39 years in 1984, when the Cubs clinched the NL East. He was pitching in Pittsburgh with a chance to clinch and saw a fan holding a sign that said “39 years of suffering is enough.” Sutcliffe was new to the organization and didn’t know what it meant, so he asked the fan. The fan explained it to him, and Sutcliffe says he didn’t mean it to be cocky, but he said, “After tonight, that’s all going to change. I promise you that.” After the Cubs clinched behind Sutcliffe’s two-hit complete game, they went out on the field and somehow they had piped in what was going on at Wrigley Field on the screen in Pittsburgh. He realized what it meant to Chicago then.

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