Just think if the Chicago Cubs’ Joe Maddon had been given one more year to finish with his star players? Would this national pandemic have ended his career or revived it?
Since former Chicago Cubs manager, Joe Maddon is gone and is not coming back, (New Cub Skipper David Ross will attest to that I’m sure) it may not matter in the weight of the world how this virus would have affected Maddon’s career had he stayed with the Cubs.
But if anyone deserves an alternate historical look, it’s gotta be the guy who brought the Cubs a championship after 108 years – we owe him at least a glimpse into that magical, ‘what if?’.
So how about it? What if Maddon, in some alternate history, had been given a one-year extension this season, to manage his 2016 World Series heritage Chicago Cub team, maybe one last time. It’s not out of bounds to think that Maddon had a strong case for staying with these current players until their contracts expired.
He could have been given a chance to stay as long as his four horsemen, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman Kris Bryant, and catcher Willson Contreras–who were still under their original contracts–and before they became free agents and possibly broke up the Beatles.
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Maddon had a World Series in his pocket with his fab-four, so there was a strong reason to consider Maddon would stay anyway, just because no one would have the guts to fire the guy who broke the 108-year curse. Geez, what kind of curse does that give the guy who fires the guy that broke the original curse? Are you confused? It is alternate history after all.
Let me simplify:
Maddon stays on as the Cubs skipper this season and is undoubtedly under the biggest microscope by Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein. Maddon is basically on his last leg with the front office. They are very clear that there will not be another managerial season unless Broadway Joe brings it home in 2020.
So we all know that last season ended worse than soured milk. No one was talking to each other, and the players were giving Maddon the cold shoulder (until he got fired!). So Maddon would have had to repair that relationship, and I believe he could have.
He was and most likely remained a master at ‘figuring things out’. So the Cubs go into spring training and do about the same as they did this season, and then the pandemic breaks out and Maddon and the Cubs go on hiatus like the rest of the non-essential MLB franchises.
I think this break has made ballplayers cherish what they do. Never before has a season had to have been put off like this for a national health reason. To me, that reason alone will increase the likelihood that the Cubs will perform at a high level when they return. In case you didn’t notice fans, we’ve got great players on this Cubs team, and when they are firing on all cylinders – no one can beat them.
I think Maddon would have come out smelling like a rose to tell you the truth. ‘Broadway Joe Strikes It Rich’ would probably be my headline. If the season is altered as they are intending it, it would have made things even better for Maddon. The Cubs would have risen to the challenge and made the playoffs and maybe more. The virus would have turned out to be Maddon’s saving grace.
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Maddon would have his dream of getting a three-year contract after that and seal his historical presence as the greatest coach in Chicago history. But alas – that’s alternate history and we all know where Maddon manages these days.
The beautiful thing about this alternate history is that Ross has the same opportunity that Maddon would have had because I believe the Cubs are coming back fired up, but only time will tell. That’s no alternate history, that’s the future. Go Cubs!