Mad­don wants more

For­mer Cubs man­ager not ready to re­tire, and of­fers will be com­ing

The Morning Call - - VARSITY - By Paul Sul­li­van

Joe Mad­don waited a long time for his first full-time man­age­rial job.

The Lafayette Col­lege prod­uct was 51 when he was hired in 2006 to take over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a bot­tomd­welling team that had few fans and no na­tional fol­low­ing. It would’ve been log­i­cal to think Mad­don, whose play­ing days plateaued in the mi­nors, would never get his dream job de­spite a cou­ple of brief, in­terim stints with the An­gels in the 1990s.

“I re­ally thought I’d get that op­por­tu­nity,” Mad­don said in Au­gust in Cincin­nati. “I did.

“Also I have of­ten said I would’ve got­ten it sooner had I been a player even one day in the big leagues. That was just the way the mind­set was. Now it wouldn’t work against me at all. My re­sume at 40 would’ve been even more at­trac­tive now.”

That re­sume looks pretty good now, with 1,262 ca­reer wins, a World Series cham­pi­onship with the Cubs, an Amer­i­can League pen­nant with the Rays and nine sea­sons of 90 or more wins in his last 12 years in Tampa and Chicago. A .582 win­ning per­cent­age in Chicago isn’t too shabby ei­ther.

The news Sun­day that Mad­don will not re­turn to the Cubs, end­ing a five-year run that made him the most suc­cess­ful man­ager the fran­chise has seen in over a cen­tury, means he’ll have to pol­ish his re­sume again and search for a new job at 65.

This time, the wait should not take too long.

“There’s go­ing to be a bid­ding war for his ser­vices, and there should be,” Cubs Pres­i­dent Theo Ep­stein said. “He’s in a great po­si­tion and I so look for­ward to his next chap­ter in base­ball and in life.

“And it’s go­ing to be good for the Cubs too. We’re just at the point we need a lit­tle bit of change and some­thing new, and that’s the nat­u­ral way. If you em­brace change, it’s good for all of us.”

As the 2019 sea­son ends, the ax is bound to fall on man­agers of un­der­achiev­ing teams around base­ball, and any owner seek­ing a well-known name with a win­ning back­ground would be crazy to dis­miss some­one with Mad­don’s abil­ity to win, cre­ate fan and me­dia in­ter­est and, yes, sell tick­ets. Be­cause when all is said and done, it’s all about sell­ing tick­ets.

Mad­don said “change can be very good for every­body in­volved,” and con­firmed he’d still like to man­age.

“I think I have a solid three to five [years], min­i­mum,” he said. “I guess Mick Jag­ger rocked Sol­dier [Field] at 75 or 76, so all those things are per­ti­nent to me, and they all serve as mo­ti­va­tion to me.”

The choic­est desti­na­tion would ob­vi­ously be Philadel­phia, which is close to his home­town of Ha­zle­ton, where his mother, Beanie, and many friends and rel­a­tives can see him more of­ten. The Phillies have a great core, one of the game’s big­gest stars in Bryce Harper and even for­mer Cubs pitcher Jake Ar­ri­eta, whose ca­reer rise in 2015 helped Mad­don turn the team from love­able losers to an­nual con­tenders.

Queens would also be a per­fect land­ing spot for the me­di­asavvy Mad­don, who wakes up ev­ery morning read­ing the New York tabloids on his iPad. The Mets have a ro­ta­tion that can com­pete with any team, and hir­ing Mad­don could be the best way to com­pete with the Yan­kees for the at­ten­tion of New York sports fans. When Mad­don played a clip from “Se­in­feld” in his of­fice Fri­day night at Busch Sta­dium, you had to won­der if Jerry Se­in­feld, the world’s most fa­mous Mets fan, was pay­ing close at­ten­tion.

And then there’s Ana­heim, the place Mad­don be­gan his ca­reer and served in var­i­ous ca­pac­i­ties, in­clud­ing the mi­nor­league man­ager and a ma­jor­league coach. He won his first ring coach­ing un­der Mike Scios­cia on the 2002 cham­pi­ons.

But all those jobs are filled. The only one now open is in San Diego, which Mad­don re­cently quipped was a per­fect place for some­one in the wit­ness pro­tec­tion pro­gram. Maybe it was a hint about his own lame-duck sta­tus?

We’ll have to wait and see what hap­pens over the next few weeks as base­ball’s re­volv­ing door turns.

Ei­ther way, ex­pect Mad­don to resur­face some­where, even though the cur­rent trend is to­ward younger man­agers with lit­tle or no prior ex­pe­ri­ence.

As he said that day in Cincin­nati, Mad­don be­lieves he can man­age un­til he’s 70, given the chance. He still feels young and wakes up ev­ery morning with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.

“If I can main­tain that method or at­ti­tude, which I don’t see why I shouldn’t, that’s why I think it’s some­thing I could do for at least five more years,” he said. “The big part is of course, tak­ing care of my­self and the joy that I have for it. If you sub­tract the joy for the day, then you re­ally should do some­thing else.

“But I re­ally have a strong joy for the day.”

That was ev­i­dent in his five years in Chicago, one of the wildest rides imag­in­able. Mad­don took the Cubs to the promised land, and three years later he’s out.

That’s base­ball.

Don’t feel sorry for Mad­don be­cause he won’t feel sorry for him­self. With all the spec­u­la­tion the last few weeks that he was gone, it was al­most like at­tend­ing his own wake. How did he let it not get to him?

“Med­i­ta­tion,” he said with a laugh. “Plenty of sleep. I’m a lit­tle bit foggy to­day. It doesn’t (bother me) be­cause I en­joy the day, man. This is en­joy­able.

“There is noth­ing to be up­set about, man. Lis­ten, if you can’t take what might be dished out once in a while, don’t do this. And again, don’t al­ways be­lieve what you read. Sorry, guys.”

Ep­stein lauded Mad­don for the way he han­dled all the ru­mors.

“Watch­ing Joe the last week­plus, I don’t think there is any­one on the planet that could have han­dled this bet­ter than he did,” Ep­stein said. “I’m al­ways learn­ing from him, but I learned a lot in the way he han­dled this. It was with such class, and it was gen­uine. It was who he was.

“He didn’t just show up and put on a happy face each day. He was happy to be here and do his job.”

Mad­don still have that strong joy for the day wher­ever he winds up, and his legacy on the North Side will stand for a long, long time.


Joe Mad­don, who was let go by the Chicago Cubs on Sun­day, has 1,262 ca­reer wins, a World Series cham­pi­onship with the Cubs, an Amer­i­can League pen­nant with the Tampa Bay Rays and nine sea­sons of 90 or more wins in his last 12 sea­sons.

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