LOS ANGELES -- Perhaps nothing better illustrates the cool and calm that resonates throughout the Chicago Cubs' roster as the team prepares for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers than a moment on the team flight manager Joe Maddon revealed before Monday's workout at Dodger Stadium. He had just nodded off after drinking a glass or two of wine.
"They came and got me," Maddon explained. "I was dead asleep on my seat. My wife Jaye sitting next to me. I'd had enough wine to go to sleep, and Aroldis [Chapman] comes up and pokes me on the shoulder and said, 'We want you in the back.'"
Maddon called it a "compliment" and "honor" to get invited to the back of the plane where his Latin relievers were hanging out. There was no purposeful reason for the invitation except to have some fun and lighten the mood after a tough 1-0 loss in Game 2 on Sunday night.
"It was good for the team," Pedro Strop said. "We just lost the game but the chemistry stays the same. ... Chappy [Chapman] is always willing to do stuff like that."
It's not a surprise the Cubs would be able to move quickly past the loss to the best pitcher in baseball without much angst. The plane ride was a carryover from the locker room. There was little concern, even from some struggling hitters. In fact, Jason Heyward urged everyone to relax and have some fun. Fun? In the middle of the NLCS? That's the Cubs way.
"We were talking about baseball," Strop said. "No one feels like we're scared [because] we lost a game ... Chappy said, 'Where is Joe at?' Davey [Martinez] said, 'He's sleeping.' I said 'Go wake him up.' So Chappy went and got him."
The parties involved say that's the second time this season they've gotten Maddon up to come join them. He's more than happy to oblige as he realizes the boss isn't always invited to the parties thrown by the employees. This was no party, though some drinks didn’t hurt in bridging the gap.
"So I go back there, and when I've had too much wine to drink my Spanish gets a little bit better because you lose that trepidation about saying the right or wrong thing," Maddon joked. "We had a great time. All of them were sitting there, it was a lot of fun."
Strop says not every manager has that vibe. Some are more uptight than others; Maddon isn't one of those guys.
"He allows stuff like that because he’s so open," Strop said. "We had a shot and talked about Chappy on the pop-up [bunt] looking to the side like, 'Who's going to catch it?' Then he did. We laughed."
Maddon got a kick out of the whole thing while realizing his team was probably already past the Game 2 loss and on to Game 3. Plus, the boss got invited to a party. Maddon liked that too.
"I'm totally honored when the boys call me back there," he said with a smile.