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Cubs handling national attention well

Cubs handling national attention well

PITTSBURGH -- Times have changed since Lou Piniella managed the Yankees in the late 1980s.

Uniforms are baggier, players wear fewer mustaches and day by day, more media come knocking on the manager's door.

"I didn't realize there would be as much media -- national media -- as there is with this club," Piniella said. "It's not an easy job. It's a big market. I started in New York in a big market, but there wasn't the attention."

Piniella went on to explain he'd never conducted a press conference until becoming the Cubs' manager in 2007. Rather, discussions were always held in his office.

"There weren't the sports networks," he said. "It was the beat writers, the people that watch our team play on a daily basis. That was it."

Piniella had better get used to the attention. His Cubs owned Major League Baseball's best record heading into Wednesday and had several marquee players that attract even more interest.

"It's changed so much," said center fielder Jim Edmonds, who began his big league career in 1993. "When I started playing, we were only on TV two or three times a week. My family never got to watch me play. SportsCenter was there, but not every game was televised."

Edmonds compared ballplayers' lives with those in Hollywood.

"They follow these people from Hollywood to New York to Europe to somewhere in the Midwest," he said. "It's just what is hot and what everyone wants to know. The same thing goes for sports. You turn into a kind of national celebrity and people want to know.

"National media gives you more and more attention on and off the field. That's just part of how this world has evolved into."

But so far so good for these Cubs. Chicago has been able to handle loftier expectations and has held sole possession of the National League Central for the past 93 days, except when it held a first-place tie with Milwaukee on July 27.

"There are a lot of questions you get asked here that you wouldn't necessarily get asked elsewhere," Piniella said. "We've got to keep playing. That's the beauty of this business. It's every day and it's one at a time. It's never going to change. But so far, we've handled it quite well."

Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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