By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — As they embark on their championship quest, the Cubs are also being prepped for adversity to hit them. Historically, something has always gone awry in the postseason for this franchise since 1908, as 14 trips trips to the playoffs have resulted in zero championships in the past 108 years.
In the here and now, manager Joe Maddon has already prepared his team for something going wrong and how to deal with adversity.
“The words pressure and expectations are positive words,” Maddon said to his players in a rare meeting Tuesday. “You never want to be involved in situations where there are not expectations. Then I believe the word ‘pressure’ dovetails with the ‘expectations’ 100 percent of the time. They are almost always together. I think that is the way the world is and the way it works in professional baseball.”
Maddon related the belief in the baseball gods messing with everyone from Chicago’s dream of a cake walk to the world series title.
“I told the guys something is going to go bad,” Maddon said. “Something is going to go wrong. It happens to everybody. The key is how you react to that moment that sets you apart. So we have always talked about that and concentrated moving on from that today. If you get to the ninth inning and you’re behind, you can quit and go home or try to pull out those miracle finishes. There are guys who don’t initially do that, but they can watch the others and learn how to get it done as a group. It’s organic. It just has to happen.”
Cubs players may not understand the entire history of teams going down to defeat in Chicago, but they’re savvy enough to know this is a championship-starved town.
“I thought the message was very important,” outfielder Jason Heyward said. “It was important to understand what Joe explained all season. There were games where we let our situation get out of hand. We fought back late in games and went out and won the game. This just goes back to not becoming complacent or down. I feel this is one of the most easily coached teams I have ever been around. Guys help each other make corrections when something goes wrong, and they take pride in it.”
All-Star shortstop Addison Russell agreed with Heyward’s assessment.
“I don’t think its possible to have a perfect postseason,” Russell said. “We are not going out there thinking we are going to make a mistake. If it happens, we know how to regroup. We move forward.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.