Having spotted Jason Heyward isolated from the media throng and conducting a one-on-one interview during the Cubs' epic celebration after their victory in Game 7 of the World Series, Jason Hammel walked over and stood guard with his hand on his teammate's shoulder.
As the reporter wrapped up his line of questioning with Heyward — who certainly doesn't require an enforcer to protect him — Hammel leaned in and told the scribe to "write only good things about this great man."
During a season that had its share of personal trials and tribulations for Heyward, it was a feel-good moment in the happiest of settings. Standing on the champagne-soaked carpeting in the visitors' clubhouse of Progressive Field, Heyward was basking in the glow of the Cubs' first World Series championship in 108 years.
"This is why I play baseball," Heyward said. "You never know what's going to happen so to be in my first year with the team and win a World Series, it's unbelievable. We had a lot of fun and we made a lot of great memories."
Not all the memories for Heyward were pleasant. After signing an eight-year, $184 million free-agent contract — the largest in franchise history — during the winter, he endured a season-long slump at the plate, hitting .230 with seven home runs and 49 RBIs. In the postseason, Heyward hit .104 with no homers and one RBI and often found himself on the bench some as manager Joe Maddon went with more potent options.
"Personally, it was a learning curve," Heyward, 27, said of his first season with the Cubs. "I feel like I learn something about myself every year. For me, I guess the thing I would take away from this season, ironically, is it wasn't about me. It was about everybody on this team and this clubhouse.
"We all brought what we could bring on a daily basis to help everybody out. Everybody on the 40-man roster helped us get to this point."
Despite his woes at the plate, Heyward never took the struggles into the outfield and was a vital cog on baseball's best defensive team.
Perhaps his biggest play of the season came not on the field but in the weight room at Progressive Field during Game 7's 17-minute rain delay before the 10th inning, the stoic Heyward addressed a team that was reeling after coughing up a big lead.
Heyward reminded his teammates "how good we are" and that "I love everyone in here."
The messages resonated and when the rain subsided, the Cubs came out and won the game with two runs in the 10th.
"For Jason to speak up, you knew he had to be emotional but he wasn't yelling, he wasn't screaming, he was just talking," teammate David Ross said. "It was a very, very deliberate message he was sending and it was very, very nice to hear that come out of him. When a guy like Jason Heyward speaks you listen because it's not all the time that he speaks up."
He picked the right time Wednesday night and as a result the Cubs are baseball champions of the world.