When you're victory-poor, like the Cubs of last season, you gladly accept a handout here and there.
But with riches comes greed, the need to grab more and more.
Which brings us to the Cubs of this season, who have discovered the wealth of four straight victories and seven in their last eight games.
Winning means never having to say you're satisfied. Or sated.
"You know what?" manager Lou Piniella asked. "We still need to get better … and we're working at it."
With Saturday's gift-wrapped 5-3 victory over hapless Washington, the Cubs climbed back to .500 for the first time since April 8.
Certainly, the Cubs have every right to this new feeling of prosperity—they're guaranteed to win their third straight series for the first time since September 2005. But …
"We need to get better," Piniella reiterated.
"To be a complete team, everything has to function. … It's early in the season still. There's room for improvement."
So what needs to get better?
"We just have to get better, that's all," Piniella replied.
And while on the subject of not being satisfied, how about Rich Hill, who lifted his record to 4-1 and whose ERA is 1.72?
"I'm off to a good start," the left-hander conceded. But "there's a lot of stuff that can be improved and get better. There's a lot of things to take into this week and work on.
"You always want to challenge yourself. It's almost like you're never satisfied."
That's a novel sentiment for both Hill and the Cubs.
It wasn't that long ago that neither would have survived a game like Saturday's, when Hill wasn't at his best and the bullpen had trouble holding a 5-1 lead.
But that was then, and this is now.
"Sometimes you're not going to carry your best stuff into a game," Piniella said.
"That's when you have to pitch a little more. You have to tough it out and that's exactly what [Hill] did."
Hill allowed baserunners in all of his six innings and left the bases loaded in the third after he hit a batter and gave up a single and a walk.
"You're going to have a few starts like that during a season … and you have to battle through it," he said.
"What you do with those starts is going to make the difference."
In fact, Hill left with a 5-1 lead after six innings, thanks mostly to a four-run third inning featuring Aramis Ramirez's sixth home run and three straight walks with the bases loaded, something that hadn't happened for the Cubs since 1999.
Hill drew one of those walks for his first major-league RBI.
All five runs were charged to injured starter John Patterson, although reliever Levale Speigner walked in the runs.
"I'm glad he's on their side and not ours," Piniella said.
Piniella isn't patient with pitchers who walk batters and paid a visit to the mound in the eighth inning when Neal Cotts was trying to hold off a Nationals rally.
"His general message was to throw strikes and trust your stuff," Cotts said.
While he gave up a run on a double, Cotts got out of the inning with two strikeouts.
Ryan Dempster picked up his second save in two days with a perfect ninth inning, apparently the only perfect thing the Cubs had going all day.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times