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Levine: House Money Or Cubs Destiny?

By Bruce Levine--

ST. LOUIS (CBS) -- The topic had to come up sooner or later: Will this Cubs team be burdened by the past or bathe in its own self-created glory? This Joe Maddon-run and Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer-invented team was impervious during the season to losing streaks, goats and everything negative from past Cub let downs.

As the first taste of playoff disappointment crept into the well-insulated walls of Maddonville, also known as the Cubs clubhouse, one needed to ask if the vibe will stay tranquil moving forward. Will Maddon feel the need to circle the wagons after one leg was chopped out from under him?

After losing the opening game of the NLDS on Friday, does the savvy manager need to tell his group what it will take in the best-of-five series?

"The way I act (matters)," Maddon said. "The way I act standing in the corner of the dugout, what do I look like, how do I walk in the door after a tough moment, that is really important that I remain consistent."

Maddon went on to talk about how to relax his team and not allow a Cubbie occurrence to evolve.

"We are conducting a team meeting right now," Maddon said of his media session being shown on the TV in the clubhouse. "I am conducting a team meeting for my entire group right now. Every manager and coach has the opportunity to conduct a team meeting, by the way things are set up these days (social media, TV, radio). I know they (players) listen or hear and read everything that is said and done. This way I can conduct a team meeting without really doing it. My guys always hear me talking this way. The message is always consistent. I think every coach in every sport would prefer to have their group look at it that way."

The no panic/no pressure message is what all workers want from their bosses. Nothing says panic to the fan base and team more than a meeting called by coaches to tell players to relax. In the case of the Cubs, compared to past management, Maddon now stays true to regular-season form.

Would you like an example? The Cubs were shut out Friday evening. What does every manager do in a short series after that occurs? Of course have early and extended batting practice. What did Maddon do? He told his team to get there late. There was no BP. It's the exact same message he delivered most of the season.

Cub fans, fear not that the players will spin out of control. You may lose this series, but Maddon won't allow this to take the pleasure out of the long, successful ride club has had to this point.

"The fans should always worry," Maddon said with humor. "It is always the right of the fan to worry. That is what bar rooms are for. That is what little fan forums are all about. The fan should always worry and worry as much as they like. For me, I am here to tell you I can't live that way. I don't. (Worrying) has nothing to do with anything, it really doesn't. The process for us is fearless. If you are always going to base your life on the outcome, you will be fearful a lot. When you do that, you're not living in a particular moment and missing a lot."

Is Maddon worried about the Cub jinx or bad things happening to good people? I say yes. Maddon will just never let his people or himself accept fear as a way of doing business. He has made a good living at staying positive in the moment, as he says. All good leaders stand tall in the face of adversity.

Cub fans, fear not. You have a winner for a leader. Losing will never feel as bad as the past as long as Maddon is performing his magic show in Chicago.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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