Jason Heyward always has an edge to him, but he's taken things to a little bit of a different level lately as the Cubs try to fend off all challengers in an intense final week of action.
When answering questions in front of the TV cameras, radio microphones and recorders, Heyward often pauses and takes his time to form his response when answering questions. He doesn't say anything by accident, and he's usually politically correct and cliche with his answers — almost boring, even.
So when Heyward used the word "shit" in back-to-back sessions with the Chicago media over the last few days, it stands out — a calculated fire at a time when the Cubs need all the fire they can get.
The man with the greatest rain delay speech in the history of professional sports is the voice the Cubs need to listen to once again right now.
"I've only had like a week-and-a-half of baseball in my career that the games didn't mean shit and that's where I feel like I take a lot of pride in that and we take a lot of pride in that here," Heyward said. "These guys in here, they know what it's like to lose. ...You can't take it for granted that you have an opportunity like this one.
"So that's where our head is and we enjoy it down to the end. We have fun with it, we look it in the eye. It's a blast in here for us."
The Cubs woke up Tuesday morning with only a slim 1.5-game lead in the division over the Milwaukee Brewers, a magic number to clinch at Wrigley Field still stuck at 5.
They've had just one day off since Aug. 20 and will not get another opportunity to reset mentally or physically until Monday and by then, this playoff race will be in the bag.
"[We've handled this stretch] beautifully," Joe Maddon said. "We've gone through a very difficult stretch...I think our guys have been doing a great job, actually. After a tough loss, we've been able to come back and play well the next day.
"We haven't taken a bad moment and let it manifest itself for a couple days. During the course of the game, they're very lucid. They interact well, the energy level's good. Those are the kind of things I try to attach myself to.
"The biggest thing is I would say after a bad day that you're able to flush it and come back and treat the next day as a different entity — brand new experience — and I think that's what we do well."
Heyward is an unquestioned leader inside the Cubs clubhouse — a guy who doesn't talk a whole lot, but when he does speak, everybody listens.
This is the same guy who walked into the visiting clubhouse at Miller Park earlier in the season and turned off MLB Network on the TVs because they were talking about how great the Cubs offense was at the time.
Yes, he turned the TVs off even though the analysts on MLB's flagship station were painting his team in an overwhelmingly positive light.
Why? Heyward wanted to make sure the guys blocked out all outside noise, even good stuff.
And that's exactly what he and Maddon and Jon Lester are trying to keep the team focused on right now — controlling what they can control and tuning out all the rest.
Sure, they're checking the scores of the Brewers game every night and they know the reality of the situation.
But when they're between the white lines, it's all about keeping the focus, which is an area Heyward has seen a lot of growth from this team over the last three seasons.
"It's beautiful," he said. "It's amazing to see the confidence come in, the experience that we've gained. Just how much fun these challenges have been for all of us to be able to lean on each other and go through them together.
"Honestly for me, the day I walked in this door, seeing Rizz, KB, Javy, a number of guys — just seeing them from then to now, it's a huge difference in a good way."
Heyward acknowledges the offensive roller coaster the Cubs have been on this season, but pointed to the extreme parity in the National League while the top-heavy American League has very little to decide over the season's final week.
At the same time, he doesn't understand the roller coaster the fans have been on this season with expectations around this team sky-high.
A few years ago, Cubs fans were just content with their team making the playoffs. Now every year is World Series or bust and the goal is to coast to a division title just like in 2016.
Except that's not how baseball works most of the time.
"I mean, for the fans, it's been 108 years. They've done that. So what we've done is reverse that and reverse that thinking," Heyward said. "But again, what people don't understand is how many teams are good baseball teams this year.
"They don't get that. The last place team in our division is a good baseball team. If you look at the lineup they put out there every day, it's a really good lineup. I've never seen a season where so many moves are made at the deadline, after the deadline by teams that are in it and out of it.
"That just shows you how good the competition is gonna be and how good it's been this year. You gotta give credit. You gotta understand that as a baseball team."