Joe Maddon is a great manager. That is without question. The Chicago Cubs made the right choice naming him the new manager of this young team. This Cubs team is a lot like the Tampa Bay team he also inherited – a young team with a lot of potential – but lacking results.
Maybe history will repeat itself and this team will have the same kind of turnaround – at least that’s what we all hope for.
A lot of what Maddon did in Tampa Bay regularly raised an eyebrow or two – but he didn’t care. The road trips had themes of ‘dress like a superhero,’ letterman jackets, disco dress-up and wear your pajamas. Those are just a couple of the many ideas he put in place just to ease the tension of a young club.
Let’s not forget the visitors he would bring into the clubhouse either. They had penguins, a 20-foot python, and even a purported “medicine man” for when the Rays were in a bit of a slump.
Now the question is: Will he get that same kind of freedom with the Cubs?
Why not – he’s the manager of a team that hasn’t won a World Series championship 107 years. Nothing that has been done in those 107 years has worked so why not try this new approach?
Can’t you just imagine Maddon calling the Lincoln Park Zoo and saying he needs a tiger and a black bear delivered before the next homestand?
Just imagine what kind of trouble he and Bill Murray could get into just to get the team to relax after a losing streak.
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I can see any and all of this happening. The Ricketts family are longtime Cubs fans – and as owners of the team, they are very fan-friendly. How many owners do you see walking around the crowd and sitting and talking to anyone that they walk by? Tom Ricketts makes a habit of meeting and greeting all kinds of fans at any game his goes to (even our very own Jacob Misener met him last summer outside the gates).
I think anything that Maddon thinks needs to be done, no matter how crazy – the Ricketts will be on board -especially if it brings positive results.
His tactics are unorthodox to say the least – but they work. The methods he has used in the clubhouse and on trips are custom-made for this generation of players and fans in the age of social media. He can – at times – come across as more of a leader of a frat house than a leader of a professional baseball team.
In Tampa Bay, he was given all the freedom he wanted and needed to do what he thought was best to manage his team both on and off the field. I see that trend continuing here in Chicago.
Hey maybe we’ll even have a billy goat walking around Wrigley Field this year – stranger things have happened with Maddon around.