Maddon, Cubs look to channel Rocky Balboa

Skipper pumps up club with theme music from underdog boxing film

Maddon, Cubs look to channel Rocky Balboa

Over his managerial career, Joe Maddon has played host to zoo animals, a DJ and a magician, encouraged his players to dress in costume and invoked pop culture in interviews. For his next trick, the Cubs skipper is channeling his inner fighter.

After the Cubs dropped Game 2 of the National League Championship Series to the Mets on Sunday in New York, the well-known theme music from the film Rocky could be heard coming from Maddon's office.

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"One of my concepts is to win hard for 30 minutes or lose hard for 30 minutes, regardless of the time of the year," Maddon said. "And of course, Rocky did set a great example in 1976 for all of us."

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In this corner, the Mets have secured a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series, with history on their side. Of the 25 teams to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven Championship Series, 22 have emerged victorious.

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And in the other corner, the Cubs will be sparring for their postseason lives in the next three games at Wrigley Field, after taking losses in Games 1 and 2 despite having top starters Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester on the mound.

Get ready to rumble.

Game Date Matchup
Gm 1 Oct. 17 NYM 4, CHC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 18 NYM 4, CHC 1
Gm 3 Oct. 20 NYM 5, CHC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 21 NYM 8, CHC 3

"When you get behind the eight ball a little bit, sometimes you just go pound on some big slabs of beef in the cooler, and obviously you come back and you're fine," Maddon said. "So it's a game, and I'm really impressed with our players. I love the way they've handled everything to this moment. I anticipate that we'll continue to handle it well. We are talented. We'll show up tomorrow, and I expect our guys to be ready to play, and that was just the message. Let's just move it along."

It's not the first time Maddon has turned to tunes to inspire his players or lighten the mood. Polka music before a trip to Milwaukee, Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" before taking on the Phillies, "Leaving on a Jet Plane" before a lengthy road trip. The beat goes on.

"He does something different every day," third baseman Kris Bryant said. "That's what makes it fun to come and play here. He's not panicking, so none of us are panicking."

If the Cubs are playing the role of Sylvester Stallone's famous Rocky Balboa, that would make the Mets his rival, Apollo Creed. In the film, Creed, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, gets all he can handle from the underdog Balboa.

"It was just about the effort," Maddon said. "The effort that he made, that's all. He came back. He came back."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.