I wish I had been at the Cubs Convention this weekend. My family and I were making plans to go out of town when the tickets to the Convention went on sale. Things changed, and we are actually in town, and I would have liked to have attended in this Championship Celebration.
I just got done reading an article by the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan about the flak that Cubs manager Joe Maddon is still getting after ending the 108 year old championship drought. It is a shame that people are still not happy with how Maddon managed the game, especially former closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman has stated since re-signing with the Yankees that he felt Maddon overused him in Games 6 & 7. I say suck it up buttercup and be a man. The thing about today’s closers is that they are very specialized to only pitch 1 inning. I miss the days of closers in the style of Bruce Sutter! Sutter would come in the game, usually in the 7th inning, and finish out the game from there.
Do I agree with every move Maddon made during this wonderful post season run? Definitely not. Yet I am not being paid roughly $5 million a year to manage a professional baseball team. Maddon became unexpectedly available to manage a new team based on a clause in his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. When that happened Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made a mad dash to the Florida panhandle to met with Maddon and truthfully hire Maddon to take over managerial duties for the Chicago Cubs. The hard part is that Rick Renteria, who was managing the Cubs and had done nothing to warrant his termination, was the odd man out. Renteria had a very decent year during another year of rebuilding that the Cubs were doing and seemed to have the Cubs moving in the direction that Epstein, Hoyer and Jason McLeod laid out.
Maddon has become one of the best baseball minds in the Major Leagues at this point and definitely knows how to bring a team together to reach the ultimate goal of winning a World Series. Maddon with young talent to turn the new franchise in Tampa Bay into a contender and an appearance in a World Series. Maddon learned his craft while with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim under various managers that the Angels had. Maddon was a key piece to Mike Scioscia‘s staff that helped the Angels win the 2002 title. Maddon spent 31 years with the Angels organization and is a life time baseball person.
Maddon definitely has a very unique way in which he manages that helps him to stick out amongst his peers plus relate to his players. 2015 left the Cubs Nation wondering what would happen in 2016 and the alleged so called experts were predicting that the Cubs would win it all. Maddon accepted the challenge of helping continue to change the culture of the Chicago Cubs. He was unrivaled in his ability to understand and work with his players to help keep everyone having fun and relaxed.
You look at the history of the Cubs with their more recent managers that were anointed as the savior and what was the success that they had? Dusty Baker got close in 2003 yet did not have the talent nor the ability to calm down his team during a very critical moment in Game #6 of the National League Championship Series. Lou Piniella was brought in as well figuring that he experience would be beneficial. Piniella had allegedly good teams yet got swept in 2007 and 2008 before quitting on August 22, 2010 because it probably was too over-whelming to deal with the Chicago media and fan base pressure. Dale Sveum was definitely not any where close to being the right manager. And although Rick Renteria seemed to have the team moving in the right direct, the front office obviously thought otherwise.
So everyone needs to take a step back, enjoy the various more entertaining things that Maddon does to help bond a team with petting zoos, pajama flights and such. These are things that Maddon does to help his players and helps them realize that they are all being paid to play a childhood game. The bottom line is to make sure that the players remember to have fun and play the best that they are able to every day. Players who understand how to respect the game, have some fun and not take things so seriously, wind up doing incredible things. Whether another manager would have gotten the same results with the Cubs in both 2015 and 2016 is completely unknown. I am just grateful that I am able to say that I have lived to see the Cubs win a World Series.
Like I told people when the Ricketts family hired Theo Epstein to take over baseball operations, the Cubs will start contending by 2015 and win at least 1 World Series title by 2020. Baseball at the Friendly Confines has been extra enjoyable for the last two seasons and it will be fun to see if the Cubs are able to repeat as Champions for the first time since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees. Do I know if it will happen? It’s hard to say, yet I am looking forward how the next 162 regular season games go and ideally 11 of 19 potential post season games will go. I am glad that Joe Maddon is at the helm of this ship and anxious to see what he plans for 2017.