Prior to Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, some were calling for Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell to be benched. Up until that point, Russell had gone hitless in the series, and many wondered whether manager Joe Maddon would be better off leaving him off the lineup card for Game 4.
That would have been a terrible decision. Russell broke out with a three-hit performance in Game 4 that included a big two-run homer. He continued his hot streak Thursday during Game 5, belting another two-run shot that gave the Cubs the lead.
There has to be a reason for Russell’s sudden turnaround, right? Maybe he’s seeing the ball better? Or maybe he spent more time in the batting cages recently?
Nope. That’s not it. Russell’s recent hot streak has been the result of wearing a teammate’s lucky underwear.
That’s Cubs outfielder Matt Szczur telling the FS1 booth that Russell borrowed his underwear prior to Game 4 of the NLCS.
Now, you might think that Szczur is messing around with the television booth. Maybe he’s trying to embarrass Russell in front of a national audience. That’s not the case. Russell confirmed the story after Game 5, but opted to use the term “leggings” instead of underwear.
— Ryan McGuffey (@RyanMcGuffey) October 21, 2016
Hey, whatever works. Russell is getting results, so how can we argue with this new ritual?
One thing we might be able to argue is that Szczur has been the Cubs’ most valuable player during the NLCS. On top of igniting Russell’s surge with his underwear, Szczur is also responsible for Anthony Rizzo’s turnaround at the plate. It was one of Szczur’s bats that got Anthony Rizzo back on track during Game 4. Szczur isn’t actually on the Cubs’ NLCS roster, so that might ruin our whole argument here.
Still, based on how much luck he’s brought to the Cubs thus far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him sitting in the dugout naked soon. At this point, we assume Jason Heyward is going to be wearing Szczur’s spikes and Kyle Hendricks will be sporting his cup during Game 6.
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