CHICAGO – When the familiar opening to the theme song to "Rocky" began blaring in the Cubs clubhouse after their loss to the Mets on Sunday, no one had to look far to find the DJ.
The music was coming from the office of manager Joe Maddon, who wanted his players to forget about being down 2-0 in the National League Championship Series and start looking ahead to Game 3.
A subliminal message?
"Part of it is that, and part of it is just to let them move this thing along," Maddon said after Monday's workout at Wrigley Field. "One of my concepts is to win hard for 30 minutes or lose hard for 30 minutes regardless of the time of year. And of course, Rocky did set a great example in 1976 for all of us.
"So when you get behind the 8-ball a little bit, sometimes you just go pound on some big slabs of beef in the cooler and you come back and you're fine."
It's easy to visualize Kyle Schwarber or Anthony Rizzo pounding on a big slab of beef, but as the series moves to Chicago, Cubs fans would prefer they pound on Mets pitching. The Cubs hit .159 in the first two games in New York, scoring only three runs.
With No. 3 starter Kyle Hendricks facing talented young righthander Jacob deGrom in Tuesday's critical game, Cubbie angst has returned to Wrigleyville after a much-needed reprieve during the wild-card game victory over the Pirates and four-game Division Series against the Cardinals.
There's no shame in being a worrier. It's cathartic for some, and Maddon said last week in St. Louis he's fine with fans worrying about what might happen.
But Maddon likes to say he doesn't "vibrate on that frequency," and he keeps the positive vibes flowing so his players don't caught up in all the negativity. Losing the first two games at Citi Field was tough, but the sun came up Monday morning.
"We were a little tired and had our heads down after we lost," Chicago closer Hector Rondon said. "But now we're fine. We feel really good where we are. Now we have a chance to play at home and can get back. We know we can come back."
They have done it before, and they believe they can do it again.
"We're not going to lose confidence in ourselves and we're not going to panic," Schwarber said. "That's the big thing. It's hard to look at it like we're down two games. We have to focus on just winning the next game. That's our mindset."
This has been an emotional year for the Cubs, from Ernie Banks' death through the late-season playoff run and the wild postseason celebrations leading up to the NLCS.
It could all end abruptly this week if the Mets pitching continues to dominate. Or the Cubs could bounce back and continue their magic act into November.
Either way, they are home again now, ready to keep pounding on that big slab of beef. One day after playing the theme song, Maddon was reminded that Rocky Balboa lost his bout in the original "Rocky."
"It was just about the effort," Maddon replied. "He came back."