Amid the Chicago Cubs impressive start to the season, baseball personalities everywhere have been analyzing the factors of their success, as they’ve been posting league-leading numbers in a variety of categories.
The hitting has been clutch and the pitching has been nothing short of spectacular. But one factor is being consistently overlooked–Cubs’ skipper, Joe Maddon.
In his distinguished career as a manager, dating all the way back to 1996 with the LA Angels, Maddon has always been known as the quintessential ‘player’s manager.’ The type of guy you want to play for. By keeping things loose and light, Maddon has earned the “cool boss” reputation with his players.
His methods and maneuvers can be out of the ordinary, but history has shown us that the madness often pays off for the long time manager. One such maneuver from last season was batting the pitcher eighth and putting Addison Russell in the nine-hole.
By doing this, Maddon was able to relieve Russell of some of the big league pressure that rookies are often susceptible to while also adding something of an extra lead-off hitter at the top of the order.
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Maddon has also shown an adept ability to know exactly when to start role players. Guys like Tommy La Stella, Matt Szczur, and last year, Chris Coghlan would slide into the starting lineup and produce. Maddon has long been a firm believer in playing into ideal matchups.
While many teams keep a consistent lineup card year-round, Joe Maddon is more prone to mix things up on a regular basis. Perhaps Maddon’s greatest quality is his ability to keep things fun and fresh. Players have learned to expect the unexpected from him.
Whether it’s bringing a mariachi band into the clubhouse on Cinco de Mayo or instituting unconventional dress codes on road trips, Maddon always keeps the mood light.
The Chicago Cubs’ series visit in Pittsburgh was dubbed the “zany minimalistic road trip.”
Team events like this are often understated, as they help players and coaches within an organization build strong and lasting bonds with each other. Watching these Cubs, one gets the feeling that they all truly enjoy playing alongside one another.
Maddon has certainly been successful in building a “work hard but have fun doing it” mentality in Chicago. While the Cubs have been dominating their competition this year, we can rest assured knowing that the mad scientist known as Joe Maddon is making time for a little bit of fun along the way.