"We'll be ready to play," Maddon said Monday at the team's workout at Wrigley Field. "You can't dwell on things like that, and you can't process the moment in the wrong way. I mean it sincerely, one-game winning streaks. We've talked about it before. Let's play Tuesday and see what happens, and we'll move on from there."
Maddon's young team can climb out of a hole in the best-of-seven series with a win Tuesday, but a loss would be devastating. The Mets are well-armed, sending Jacob deGrom to the mound in Game 3 to follow up stellar starts by Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard.
From his office Sunday the theme from "Rocky" could be heard, another of the eccentric and measured Maddon's unique approaches to motivation. On the heels of a losing streak during the season he called of batting practice and told players to simply show up ready to play, as if they were little leaguers.
It was a blunt reminder that baseball is still a game, and they shouldn't approach any losing streak with dread that might block their focus on the task at hand.
Tuesday the task is a great one. Maddon believes his job is to make them see it another way.
"For me, seriously, here's the rub: Everybody believes that you need more batting practice. We need more ground balls. We need to look at video longer. I totally disagree with that," he said. "We've been doing this since February. They've been swinging the bat constantly since February. They've been taking ground balls constantly since February. If we could relax our minds and be in the present tense and go out there and play the game that we've been practicing all year, that's what I'm looking for.
"So the point is you don't want to stretch them out over this repetitive exercise that, honestly, it's not like other sports. We've been doing this for months, and in baseball you need to go out there and be able to process the moment, not overthink it, definitely not get uptight about it. It's a tension-free kind of a game. So anything I can do to promote that, that's what I attempt to do."
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks makes the start for the Cubs in Game 3. The 25-year-old was 8-7 with a 3.95 ERA in 2015. Depending on the outcome Tuesday, Maddon is leaning toward Jason Hammel for Game 4. He said he didn't want to ask Jon Lester to come back on short rest.
"Yeah, there's pressure. It's the playoffs," said Hendricks. "There's always going to be some pressure, but you've got to let the pleasure exceed that. We've heard Joe say it a lot. I'm just going to go out and try to have fun. This is why you play the game, this is why you want the ball. So pressure in a way is sometimes a good thing."