Maddon wants more
Former Cubs manager not ready to retire, and offers will be coming
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.
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.