Anxiety, stress, pressure? The Cubs they don’t feel it during a tight NL Central race

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Albert Almora Jr. #5 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with his teammates after hitting a game-winning walk-off single against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the tenth inning on September 26, 2018 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs won 7-6. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Not everyone had the luxury to be apart of four-straight playoff chases on the North Side during the Joe Maddon era.

David Bote is one of those who is new to the end of season race for a division championship.

While the team got to the NLCS the last three seasons with a World Series title in 2016, he was trying to work his way through the Cubs’ minor league system in hopes of making it to the majors.

Finally, the infielder did so in 2018, and his ability to fill in for the injured Kris Bryant has been a big reason the club is back in the postseason for a franchise-record fourth-straight season. For Bote, like everyone else on the club, the goal is to win the National League Central division. That prevents the Cubs from playing a Wild Card playoff game, and likely gives them the top seed in the National League playoffs.

It’s a lot of pressure for a rookie who will have to play a bit role to make that happen, especially with Bryant day-to-day with a wrist injury.

But is he feeling the pressure? Hardly.

“It’s awesome, it’s fun, it’s enjoyable. You’ve got to enjoy these moments,” said Bote of the finish to the regular season. “It’s stress-free, really. You just go out there and have fun. The crowd is going to be into it, it’s going to be loud. Cards coming in for the next series, Pittsburgh tonight. It doesn’t get better than that.”

Perhaps it’s just simple excitement that has caused any stress or pressure to bounce off the rookie as they enter a critical final four games of the season. Yet it says something about the attitude of the locker room that it can get a newcomer to quickly but into the team’s “don’t let the pressure exceed the pleasure” mentality.

So, as you might imagine, some of the guys that have been around for the current run aren’t really fazed by the charging Brewers, the pesky Pirates, or the prospect of possibly having to play in a Wild Card game should they not take care of business. Kyle Schwarber has been there and done all of it since he joined the team in the summer of 2015, and knows it does no good to let the pressure get to you when the stakes are raised.

“We’re not panicking, that’s kinda the word I’m trying to describe. We’re not in here saying that ‘You know what, we’ve got to win this game, we’ve got to win this game, we’ve got to win this game,'” said Schwarber. “If we do that, we put pressure on ourselves and try to do things out of our hands and stuff like that, bad things can happen.”

They haven’t let it get to them in the past, and it’s certainly paid off. Bote is learning that now in his first taste of late-season MLB drama.