CHICAGO — In sports, we’re used to losses prompting overly emotional and one-word reactions. Not so for the Chicago Cubs under manager Joe Maddon.

Sure, a baseball season is 162 games, but the sport still has its share of teams that allow a loss to linger. Maddon said he has been part of teams like that, so his objective when he joined Chicago in October 2014 was to keep emotions on an even keel.

The Cubs limped to the All-Star break this season, losing nine of 11, but they recently won 11 straight games and 13 of 15 overall.

“One of my main objectives with any team that I’m with is that you win hard for 30 minutes or lose hard for 30 minutes and you move on,” Maddon said Monday. “I don’t see anything productive about carrying a loss to the next day.

“You have to be intentionally upset, surly because you lost yesterday. You can’t smile. All that stuff is absolutely insane to me.”

Maddon explained all this while wearing a shirt that read “Try Not to Suck,” a phrase he has championed in an effort to keep things light. But while he is undoubtedly Mr. Cool in baseball’s managerial ranks, his influence is only worth so much on the field.

Every team needs talent.

The Cubs’ starting staff (3.15 ERA, .213 batting average against) and defense have both been among baseball’s best. According to FanGraphs, the Cubs lead baseball with a 49.5 ultimate zone rating (UZR) and 42.5 defensive runs above average (Def).

Chicago’s UZR is 15.3 points better than the second-ranked Toronto Blue Jays‘. Only three teams have a Def above 30, and the Cubs are the only club with one above 40.

“Our pitching staff is fun to play behind,” third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant said. “They keep you in it. We’re always on our toes. They work quick. They throw strikes. So far our defense has been really good. So from an offensive standpoint, if we go out there and get two or three runs one day with the pitchers we have, I think we have a really good chance to win.”

As evidence, during their 11-game winning streak, the Cubs scored five runs or fewer eight times.

Beyond the stats, Maddon’s ability to keep things in perspective has been a big plus.

“The good teams come in, you don’t even know if they won or lost,” Maddon said. “So that’s the point I’ve been trying to get across here. That’s the point I got across at the previous stop [Tamp Bay].

“It makes no sense to me. I can’t go there. We play too many games, and I think the group that shows up normally on a daily basis has the best chance of avoiding those bad moments.”


Seth Gruen is a national baseball columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @SethGruen.

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