What are Cubs playing for in second half? Joe Maddon's job, for starters

With the Cubs sitting at 47-43 in a crowded NL Central, the next 72 games likely will determine manager Joe Maddon’s future. 

8:00 AM ET

CHICAGO — Not long after the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series, Theo Epstein dismissed criticism of manager Joe Maddon for another time. When it came down to winning a championship, the team president opined that only the result mattered — not the process nor any of the controversial decision-making by the man in the dugout.

The Cubs should view Maddon’s next 72 games in the same manner. No matter how sloppy his team has played, no matter how much criticism he may be due at the moment, if the Cubs win their dogfight of a division, Maddon should be rewarded.

But if his team continues its current style of play while ceding the National League Central, which Chicago leads by a mere half-game as the second half begins, Maddon should suffer the consequences.

As much as the Cubs are in it together, the final half-season of Maddon’s five-year contract will be a referendum on his current managerial style. That won’t take anything away from what he has accomplished — it just

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