By Bruce Levine--
CHICAGO (CBS) -- With his Cubs down 2-0 in the in this best-of-seven NLCS against the Mets, the Cubs' sage and guru also known as Joe Maddon refuses to show any sign of panic to his group. As the team was leaving Citi Field on Sunday evening after a 4-1 loss in New York, the theme music from "Rocky"was blasting from the manager's office.
The subliminal message was easy to translate: Rocky was the underdog and appeared to have zero chance to defeat the fictional champion Apollo Creed. The club fighter gave the champion the fight of his life, and that spirit and heart was what Maddon was relating to his players.
"Part of that is that (sublime), and part is just to help move this thing along," Maddon said on Monday's off-day. "One of my concepts is win hard for 30 minutes or lose hard for 30 minutes, regardless the time of the year."
Maddon's the king of diversion and looks to motivate his group with multiple antics. The fun has included a petting zoo and magician this season, and Rocky's just the latest example.
"Of course Rocky did set a great example for us in 1976," Maddon said. "When you get behind the eight ball a little bit, just go and pound on some big slabs of beef in a cooler. All of the sudden you come back, and you are fine."
The real-life Apollo Creed in this case is the talent, young and hard-throwing Mets pitching staff. The next challenge for the Cubs is Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom in Game 3 on Tuesday. He went 14-8 with a 2.54 ERA in the regular season and won two games for New York in the NLDS, allowing just two runs in 13 innings.
"Listen man: It's a game, and I am really impressed with out players," Maddon said. "I love the way they have handled everything to this moment. I anticipate they will continue to handle it well. We are talented. We will show up, and I expect our guys to be ready to play.
"My message was really just to move it along."
Translation: There's no crying over split milk, so get a move on.
Cubs players love the trip that their magical mystery conductor throws their way.
"Joe and the staff do such a great job of creating the right mode and the best atmosphere for us," veteran catcher and team leader David Ross said. "He really knows how to step on and off of the gas in leading this group. Joe helps us keep the focus on that day and that game. Our manager's personality really helps now, because he is not fazed and we are not fazed. He will not change, and we will not change. That is the reason we have won all the games we have won."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.
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