Monday believes that one reason for Chicago's stunning start might be a meeting he called the last week of spring training. "I told the guys we had to have more pride in ourselves," he says, "that the other clubs were taking us for granted. We had to let people know that it would take good ball to beat us. That meeting didn't get us any base hits, but I know it helped our attitude."
This kind of take-charge approach is needed on a Cub team that lacks strong, aggressive leadership from management. "I'm not one for pep talks and team meetings," says Manager Marshall. "I like that to come from the players. I've had clubs that didn't get this leadership and it showed in the standings."
Monday, Chicago's player representative, is at age 29 a little older than most of his teammates, but his background is similar. He came to the Cubs at an early age, from an impatient organization, with more potential than proven ability. The difference is that Monday speaks his piece. If someone does not run out a pop fly, as Catcher Steve Swisher discovered recently, he is likely to hear about it from Rick.
The fact remains that Monday the potential superstar has not yet hit .300. The closest he came was last season, a .294 average that he says "was like going halfway up Pikes Peak." Now he believes he is ready to scale the summit. "I don't get my kicks by having a lot of attention," he says. "That isn't the epitome for me. I like the game, the challenge, and I think I can do a pretty good job."
Monday does not regret being traded away from the Athletics just before they won the first of three World Series. "The peace of mind of being able to play every day is more important," he says. "I platooned in Oakland and, like a lot of people, I had my problems with Finley. Here in Chicago I'm playing every day, and I haven't even met Mr. Wrigley."
Monday has yet to prove that he can play as well after the All-Star break as before it, but the only thing likely to stop him now is engine failure. A student pilot, he has 14 hours toward a license. It looks like Monday will be flying high for a long time to come.