By Dan Bernstein–
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) This Cubs season hasn’t been as much about manager Joe Maddon, for better or worse. After he arrived so surprisingly and with such celebration, he was the natural focal point of a developing team and then a young champion, charming with his quirks and commentary as the bandleader of an all-time party.
In the aftermath, not so much. Maddon has allowed his players to absorb most of the attention so far in 2017, avoiding much from his showy playbook. It’s his first time in charge of a defending World Series winner, and he’s clearly picking his spots.
Thursday was notable, however, in Maddon’s decision to comment on the Cubs again flying high in first place and sounding outwardly confident in a way they hadn’t yet been. Asked about Jake Arrieta’s thought that, “We are feeling it … We expect to stay in first place throughout the remainder of the way,” Maddon tried to reel that in a bit.
“I get where Jake is coming from,” he told reporters before the Cubs beat the White Sox, 6-3, on Thursday night for their third straight win.
“You have to be careful about what you say. I don’t take anything for granted, man. My experience tells me not to do that. If you start to get full of yourself for believing whatever, it can go away very quickly. Nothing wrong with saying you feel good about where the team is, but when you start getting full of yourself and thinking it’s going to come easily, that is the trap.”
Get that, Jake?
Maddon knows a team is never as good as it feels when it’s hot and never as bad as it feels when it’s not. He sees his Cubs as 8-2 over their last 10 and the Brewers at 2-8 over theirs, and Maddon has been around baseball too long to find that entirely predictive of either the series that starts at Miller Park on Friday night or what could be a hard-fought divisional race.