The Cubs may be in the midst of a playoff race, but you wouldn't know it if you spent the morning/early afternoon at Wrigley Field Sunday.
The team's "workout" consisted of brunch and football on the field. In other words, they were doing exactly what a whole bunch of Chicagoland's 20- and 30-somethings were doing.
Kyle Schwarber spent five minutes talking the talk with reporters about the lack of pressure the Cubs are facing right now but he also walked the walk just a few minutes earlier when he showed no sign of feeling that weight. During "batting practice," Schwarber was drilled in the ribs by the young son of Cubs first-base coach Brandon Hyde and Schwarber retaliated by sprinting after the younger Hyde, playfully tackling him and throwing light punches.
Schwarber joked he was worried about a suspension after charging the mound.
That's where these Cubs are at right now, on the eve of Jose Quintana's first career postseason start: a Game 3 date with NL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer — who insists he's healthy enough to throw 100 pitches — and the high-powered Nationals offense in a series tied at one game apiece.
Here are some other key takeaways from Sunday entering the last few days of this NLDS:
Dusty doesn't live in the past
Dusty Baker is a household name around these parts, resonating with fans after nearly taking the 2003 Cubs to the first World Series in a lifetime.
Even though Baker is returning to the scene of the infamous Bartman incident and that NLCS meltdown, he wouldn't allow himself to truly get nostalgic.
But yes, he absolutely watched the Cubs finally win it all last fall.
"Oh, I was watching," Baker said Sunday afternoon. "I watch every game. I like watching baseball. Doesn't matter who's playing. I had some friends over there in Cleveland and some guys I know here that were here when I was here — [Cubs bullpen coach] Lester Strode and Bussy [Cubs strength coach Tim Buss] and some of those guys.
"I was neither rooting for them nor against them. I was just rooting for a good game, because I didn't have any skin in the game. I'm not a gambler. I just wanted a good time and that's what we got.
"Deep down inside, you know, we were one out or one pitch away from that possibly being us. But you can't live in the past."
Baker instead is focused on managing this Nationals team that found new life off one swing of Bryce Harper's bat Saturday evening in D.C.
Cubs lineup surprise?
Nobody will truly know how healthy Scherzer will be until the first few pitches of Monday evening's game when he actually gets to test his "tweaked" hamstring in game action.
But the Cubs have to prepare to face Scherzer like it's any other game he's started, which could mean a lineup surprise from Joe Maddon.
Scherzer is nasty from either side of the plate, but he's allowing a .215 average and .692 OPS against lefties this season while right-handers are hitting just .136 with a .425 OPS off the veteran.
In Game 1 against Stephen Strasburg, Maddon went with and outfield of Kyle Schwarber-Jason Heyward-Ben Zobrist, but indicated he could find another way to get a left-handed bat into the starting lineup against Scherzer.
"Yeah, I'm leaning towards that right now," Maddon said Sunday morning. "I mean, he's just so oppressively difficult versus right-handed hitters. I thought it might be wise to get one more lefty out there."
But who could it be?
There are several different possibilities, including Jon Jay and Ian Happ, with either Happ or Zobrist manning second base and Javy Baez potentially on the bench.
But Tommy La Stella could actually be the call here, as he's had success against Scherzer in a limited sample size — 3-for-6 with a double, triple and homer. Maddon could opt for La Stella in the leadoff spot, give him a couple at-bats and then get Baez into the game in the middle/latter innings.
That seems quite bold to bench Baez — a guy who can change a game in so many different ways with his baseball IQ, baserunning, defensive instincts or elite batspeed. But Baez is 0-for-5 all-time against Scherzer with three strikeouts and he could still enter the game in the fourth or fifth inning and make a huge impact.
But would the Cubs really want to bench a guy who started all 17 postseason games at second base last fall and was named the co-NLCS MVP?
It's also possible the Cubs could move Baez over to shortstop and sit Addison Russell. Or this could just be a smokescreen and a bit of gamesmanship by Maddon to give the Nationals something else to think about and prepare for.
Forgot about Trea
Heading into the series, Nationals shortstop and leadoff hitter Trea Turner was a huge talking point given his ability to change the game with his speed on the basepaths.
The Cubs reiterated several times in the days leading up to the NLDS that the best way to combat Turner's speed is to keep him off the bases.
That's exactly what they've done, as Turner has begun the postseason in an 0-for-8 slump, striking out four times.
Baker wouldn't even acknowledge that as a "mini-slump," however, indicating the hits could come in bunches for Turner, who has a career .304 batting average in the big leagues with 81 stolen bases in 198 games.
One big inning
The entire series shifted on two swings Saturday night, both coming in the eighth inning as the Cubs bullpen melted down and gave up a game-tying homer to Harper and the game-winning longball to Ryan Zimmerman.
The Nationals scored five runs on four hits and a walk in that eighth inning, but their offense has been completely silent in the other 16 innings of the NLDS.
If you take the eighth inning out of the equation, the Nationals have just one run and are putting up an .077 average with a .158 on-base percentage and .135 slugging percentage.
The only run was Anthony Rendon's two-out line drive homer in the first inning of Game 2 — a ball that is only a hit 33 percent of the time based on exit velocity (96.4 mph) and launch angle.
The Cubs will throw Jose Quintana in Game 3 and Jake Arrieta in Game 4 and will have a completely rested bullpen, so they have every reason to feel good about the state of their pitching staff against a Washington lineup that has been completly baffled by these Cubs arms apart from that one inning.
However, the same can be said for the Cubs, who have really only received offensive production from Bryzzo — Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant — in the first two games of this series.
The two franchise cornerstones have driven in five of the Cubs' six runs and combined for six hits in 12 at-bats.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Cubs offense has put up a miniscule .104 batting average (5-for-48) against the Nationals pitching staff.
Willson Contreras homered and Addison Russell has a pair of singles and a walk, but the Cubs will need the rest of the lineup to step up against Max Scherzer and Tanner Roark in the rest of this series if they're gonna advance to their third straight NLCS.
It's not how hard you get hit
These Cubs can take a punch, as we saw for a month straight last October.
Rizzo led the charge on the "Rocky" themed inspiration in fall of 2016 as the Cubs responded to relentless adversity on the road to ending the franchise's 108-year championship drought.
So it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody that there has been absolutely no sense of panic or frustration within the clubhouse of the defending champs, even after blowing a 3-1 lead and suffering a heartbreaking loss in Game 2.
"You're not gonna knock us down," Rizzo said. "We gave up a home run to Rajai Davis to tie the game in the 8th inning [in Game 7 of the World Series].
"It's part of the journey. You gotta embrace it. It's obviously not a good feeling to lose the way we did, but it's part of the experience."