Chicago Cubs Tony Campana Sets the Example How to Win at Wrigley Field

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIJune 9, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 14: Tony Campana #1 of the Chicago Cubs scores a run against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 14, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The most diminutive player on the field for the Chicago Cubs is showing them where the future of the organization needs to be headed. When Theo Epstein took the job, he already had a plan in place.

The only guesswork was how do you win playing at Wrigley Field? Tony Campana has provided him with the answer.

It's always tough to score at Wrigley in April and May—even when the team has a roster full of sluggers. This season highlights it more than ever with the Cubs having a shortage of power in the lineup.

Speed is the answer to the question a century of Cubs GM's have never asked. That is the secret to winning at Wrigley.

Considering the Cubs have never won the World Series while playing there, it was probably easier for Columbus to discover America than it has been for the Cubs to solve that riddle.

I would have to be crazy to suggest that Campana, who looks more like a bat-boy than a player, is the "Holy Grail" for Cubs fans. It's not him specifically but what he represents.

Despite being a menial major leaguer who best fits as a fourth or fifth outfielder, Campana has demonstrated what the Cubs have been missing.

Looking at the numbers, here's a player with a career .309 OBP who has scored 39 runs in 256 at-bats. If you look at a typical leadoff hitter, he will come to the plate over 600 times in a season.

Projecting those numbers out, Campana would be close to a 100 runs scored for the season. That's for a player who can barely get on base, but amazing things happen when he does reach.

In 42 career stolen base attempts, he has been thrown out only five times.

Once he gets on, the pitcher forgets about concentrating on the batter. Instead, almost his entire focus is on Campana—whether it's looking him back to first or throwing over so many times it elicits boos from the fans.

It also gives the hitter an advantage, because he's far more likely to see a fastball to give the catcher a chance to throw the runner out.

Campana has mentioned in the past that if he gets on base, it's like a double, because of the assumption he's going to steal.

A player like him puts pressure on the defense. Even an infield grounder is an adventure, because the fielder knows he has a split second to make a play or he's going to beat it out.

If he's on third with less than two outs, which happens fairly often because he doesn't just steal second, almost any ball to the outfield, and most infield grounders, are an automatic run.

A player like Campana completely changes the way a team plays against the Cubs. It hasn't done much for them this year, because they are so inept. But a few years down the line—with better personnel—it could do wonders.

Look at the White Sox in 2005 when they added Scott Podsednik to the team. He gave them the same dynamic Campana gives the Cubs.

It worked, because they became the first Chicago team since 1917 to win the World Series. It wasn't only him, but they wouldn't have won without him.

I admit I don't watch as many Cubs games as I have in the past, because as I said—they're bad. But when Campana's up, I don't turn the channel.

I like to see him run, and I love to see the commotion he causes on the base-paths.

Don't think I'm crazy. I'm not saying Tony Campana is the missing piece to the puzzle for the Cubs. Instead, he solves the puzzle of what it takes to win at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs just need a few bigger and better Tony Campana's to fill the roster in the next few years.

Speed kills, and a lack of it has been killing the Cubs for years.

With a new regime, it's time for that to change.