Theo Epstein treats his press conferences in the same even-keeled way baseball players aim to treat the regular season, without getting too high or low.
The Cubs president of baseball operations is thoughtful and measured in his responses and almost never says anything by accident.
So when his voice started changing in inflection, it made the makeshift interview room in the bowels of Wrigley Field perk up. The passion was palpable.
In his end-of-season presser Wednesday afternoon, Epstein was asked about Javy Baez's comments after the Cubs' Wild-Card loss Tuesday night where the NL MVP candidate said his team was too often focused on the wrong things amid a year that ended abruptly in disappointing fashion for the Cubs.
Epstein agreed with Baez's assessment and explained it in a different way.
The Cubs were forced to endure a stretch where they had just one off-day over the final 43 days of the season and wound up losing the division and the No. 1 seed in the NL on Game 163 Monday before getting ousted from the playoffs Tuesday.
Yet if they had taken care of business earlier in the season before that brutal stretch began, the Cubs would still be playing baseball right now.
"There were players who were looking at it a little differently like Javy, for example, talking about how - in some ways - we struggled all year and - in some ways - something was off a little bit off all year," Epstein said. "We never got on that roll and we have to own that. I agree with that.
"Jon Lester putting it in his own way - dragging body parts through the dirt - leading to an acknowledgement of where we are or where we aren't and maybe that's a good thing in the long run. It will lead to the universal recognition that nothing will be given to us.
"...If we're being totally honest, this is a theme that has come up a little bit with some of the players as we talked to them and we felt through the course of the year, there was a lot to grind through and there was a lot to be proud of, but we could have done more from Day 1 through 162 as far as complete sense of urgency every day, being completely on a mission every day, showing up with that assertiveness and that edge every single day to win.
"Again, 95 wins is tremendous. But sometimes divisions aren't lost on that last day of the season when you only score one run and you don't get in. They're not lost in that last week-and-a-half when the other team goes 8-0 and you go 4-3 and you needed to go 5-2. Sometimes they're lost early in the season when you have an opportunity to push for that sweep, but you've already got two out of three and you're just not quite there with that killer instinct.
"You know what that makes us? Human."
The Cubs often bring up 2016 - both because it resulted in the first world championship for the franchise in 108 years and because the Cubs cruised from start to finish because they had that edge.
Everything Epstein's talking about that the 2018 team lacked at times, the 2016 squad had.
Which is why he and the Cubs players referenced 2016 countless times between the final out of the NL Wild-Card Game and the end of Epstein's 70-minute presser.
"The guys who have been here that whole time acknowledge that," Epstein said. "From Game 1 through 162, we had that sense of urgency. There was no complacency. We were completely on a mission and we showed up to assert ourselves and to win every single day.
"That might win you that one extra game. Or in the case of 2016, it puts you in a position where you can really rest and prepare down the stretch for the playoffs. We have to own this. We have to be honest about that - it's been a little bit different since 2016. We have to get back to that.
"In 2017, we didn't show up for the first half of the season and that put us in a 5.5-game hole at the All-Star Break and we had to expend so much energy in the second half to get back on top of the division that we were fried by October and exhausted and we didn't accomplish our goal in October.
"This year, I think we all admit - and talking to the players - that we all know that we had our chances to put away the division. Whether it was things that happened in the first half or when we started to get some momentum, building a bigger lead. Or you get to a Labor Day series in Milwaukee and all you have to do is win that series and you might symbolically kind of end it right there.
"Then you have another crack at Milwaukee and you can't win that series, either. Or going 5-2 instead of 4-3 down the stretch. Those two Pirate games during the last homestand will haunt us. Or those three games - Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, where all you have to do is score two runs - score more than the one - and you got it."
Epstein went back and referenced a stat he discussed earlier in the press conference - the Cubs scored 2 or more runs in a game just 50 times out of their 70 games after the All-Star Break.
In those 50 contests, the Cubs went a remarkable 37-13.
If the Cubs had managed to turn in one of those performances in either of those three games Epstein mentioned - Saturday, Monday or Tuesday - they'd still have a chance to win their second title in a three-year span instead of trying to come up with answers to what went wrong.
"Look, I don't think there's some sort of fatal flaw - at all - in the clubhouse," Epstein said, his voice dripping with emotion. "If we're being honest about it - as Jon Lester said - maybe this will be good for us because if you just show up, playing it cool, knowing you're talented, knowing it's a long season and trusting that the talent will manifest over the course of 162, sometimes you end up one game short.
"That's not who we are. That's not who we want to be. That's not what we're all about. I think we have to own that and we have to recognize it. I think our players do, from talking to them today. Maybe that feeling in the clubhouse last night - which was a whole lot of pissed off and disappointed and frustrated - will be our rallying cry for next year.
"...Show up every single game as much as you can and get back on a mission the entire length of the season. That's something. There's no fingers pointed, that's all of us collectively in that.
"But if there's one thing we can change besides the sort of fundamentals next year, we will remember that feeling of falling one game short and try to apply it through the course of a 162-game season."