Former Cubs manager Joe Maddon can't get out of his own way
By Jake Misener
Another day, another set of comments from former Cubs manager Joe Maddon that are unlikely to sit well with the shot-callers throughout Major League Baseball.
In recent remarks, Maddon touched on a wide array of topics when speaking with The Athletic (subcription required) - saying no teams have reached out to him since the Angels fired him last summer and that the only contact he's had about returning to the game at all came from Japan.
"No, nobody reached out to me. Japan did. Japan was very interested when it all happened, and I wasn’t ready to go there yet, although I’m such a fan of the baseball culture there. But that’s it. Nobody else has reached out to me. Not at all. "- Joe Maddon
Maddon, a three-time Manager of the Year and the man on the top step of the dugout during the Cubs' 2016 World Series championship, now faces the prospects of an unceremonious end to his baseball career. His consistent outspoken comments in the time since the Halos cut ties with him have done him zero favors, either.
Lauded as a masterful presence when it came to young players and creating a strong clubhouse culture, Cubs fans couldn't get enough of Maddon when he left the Rays ahead of the 2015 campaign to take the wheel of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer's masterpiece in Chicago.
And, really, who could have asked for more. A year ahead of schedule, Maddon guided the Cubs to the postseason for the first time since 2008 and advancing to the NLCS before falling flat against the Mets. His efforts led to his receiving NL Manager of the Year honors that came saddled with championship-or-bust expectations heading into 2016.
Cubs prevailed under Joe Maddon; but the shine has waned with time
Thankfully, for us all, the Cubs prevailed in an unforgettable Fall Classic - but rather than celebrate that accomplishment, Maddon was almost immediately under fire from fans and the media for his bullpen management that October (and rightfully so; had Chicago not snapped its 108-year drought, one can only imagine the withering criticism he'd have endured, specifically for his usage of Aroldis Chapman).
Maddon keeps saying he wants to return to the game he's spent his entire life in, whether that be in the dugout or a front office. But he's carved out such a specific scenario, one that's antiquated and unheard of in the game today in terms of the balance of power between managers and front offices, that a comeback tour seems increasingly unlikely.
"I want your input. I want collaboration. I want all the intel you want to give me. I want all that. And I promise you, I’m going to ask you a lot of questions. I am. And I’m going to utilize analytics to derive answers, both strategically and physically. You could derive them from both. But I’m not just going to blindly follow you or agree with you because you happen to be my boss. "- Joe Maddon
So, Maddon wants a job. But he wants it on his terms - not the organization's. Like it or not, that's not how baseball (or any industry, really) works. If this is the hill he's choosing to die on, so be it. Let's hope he's at peace with what he accomplished, because his ceaseless comments on the state of the game today will likely prevent him from ever adding anything more to that resume.