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Cubs biggest enemy is themselves

The Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball. Sure, there are some very good teams like the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, but none have the depth and talent of the Cubs.

Consider that Chicago is looking at a 44-20 record through its first 64 games and a 9.5-game lead in the very competitive National League Central. The Cubs have an absurd run differential of +159 while no other team is over +82. At this juncture, it would be shocking if the Cubs don’t win at least 100 games and perhaps approach 110.

On June 16, the Cubs are all but assured of not only winning their division, but of having home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs.

All of that is why Chicago is looking at its greatest enemy every time it peers into the mirror.

The Cubs have no reason to go all-out. They are going to the postseason even if they play .500 baseball the rest of the regular season. If that were to be the case, Chicago would finish with a 93-69 mark and barring a huge run by the Pittsburgh Pirates or St. Louis Cardinals, would be crowned the division champs.

For all of their talent, the Cubs have to guard against complacency. Chicago has to play with an edge throughout the dogs days of summer and right into the postseason. Whoever the Cubs play in the NLDS is going to be coming in with the chip of an underdog on their shoulder and more than that, will have likely had to earn a postseason spot during the tight games of September.

Baseball is a sport that rewards the hot team in the playoffs, not always the best one. If it did, Billy Beane would already have a World Series ring (or three) and the Atlanta Braves would have won six consecutive World Series in the 1990s with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz anchoring the rotation. Chicago must find a way under manager Joe Maddon to keep the pedal down and play hard every night, getting ready for the ultimate test.

The Cubs have not won a championship since 1908, and the North Side is ready to have a party. All the fans can see the ample talent on the roster, ranging from Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey to Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist. The lineup reads like an All-Star team, and the Cubs fans are bursting at the seems for a celebration that has not happened since before the Titanic sank.

For that to happen, Maddon has to keep his team playing as though its life is on the line every night. Should the Cubs be able to keep that competitive edge throughout the monotony of summer, they will be incredibly hard to beat.

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