March 21, 2011

It's Hard Not To Like Joe Maddon

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wants his players to grow some hair -- any kind of hair. "Let's all be like Manny. He's pretty good. He's a Hall of Famer."
[W]hile Manny still has his dreadlocks, they compete on this team with bench coach Dave Martinez's full beard, and with Evan Longoria's mullet, and with Johnny Damon's fauxhawk, and with whatever that is atop J.P. Howell's head.

Maddon insists he's going to grow his hair long, too.

"This offseason, I was going through some slides from 1978, and I had really long hair," Maddon said. "Then I came here and saw Davey's beard, and I thought in some subliminal way it was telling me this was the time to grow hair."
More Maddon:
I want us to be the hirsute club this year. I encourage the growth of follicles. I want them all to go nuts with their hair this year.
I really like Maddon, who interviewed for the job of Red Sox manager that eventually was given to Terry Francona. Actually, Maddon seems a lot like Tito in many ways. A former eight-year employee of the Devil Rays' PR staff wrote that Maddon,
despite his advanced number crunching and creative player use, might be the best motivator in baseball. ... He is steadfastly ritualistic and intensely prepared but keeps his players free and easy. This balance between a light, loose pre- and post-game clubhouse and a laser in-game focus is groundbreaking ...
However, it's unlikely that Francona will be quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes in a press conference any time soon, as Maddon did after the Rays lost the 2008 World Series, explaining that the experience had changed the players and franchise forever:
The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.
In 2008, Maddon unveiled his "9=8" concept:
I was very convinced about my message at the time. But I also knew the trepidations and scoffing that it would be met with. You've got to lean forward with those things. ... [Y]ou try to get a little academic, sometimes it's met with more resistance.
And sometimes academic just won't work, and you have to do something silly to strengthen a team's camaraderie.

Last September, on a flight to New York for an important series with the Yankees, Maddon had every player wear garish, multi-coloured pants.
Maddon himself went above and beyond, buying white leather shoes with gold buckles to match his aqua sport coat and pants.
More Maddon stuff:

This past Sunday, he insisted that security eject an Orioles fan who was shouting racist comments at Rays outfielder B.J. Upton.
He said something racial and I didn't like it. He can say whatever he wants, but don't go there. And I didn't want B.J. to go up into the stands or do anything at that point. So I just wanted to make sure he was taken out of there. There is no room for that at all.
The fan denies saying anything racial and insists Maddon is lying, but several Tampa coaches, as well as Upton, also heard the slurs.

In the spring of 2009, Big League Stew asked Maddon, if he could borrow anyone's identity for one day, who would he choose?
Mark Twain. ... I'm just so impressed with his thinking. The stuff that I've read as quotes. His zest for life and also his take on human nature. His ability to look at something and put it into words. It's everlasting, it's got universality, it never goes away. ... It's not about one book and it's not about one particular character, it's about him his personality. I'll tell you about another guy, and I skipped over it, would be Branch Rickey. I'd say Mark Twain, Wayne Dyer and Branch Rickey are three of the people that I... Branch Rickey, for me, is so far ahead of his time.


mattymatty said...

Stop it, Allan. Between you and Jonah Keri, I'm starting to like the Rays.

FenFan said...

Stop it, Allan. Between you and Jonah Keri, I'm starting to like the Rays.

Liking Joe Maddon. Still not liking the Rays.

johngoldfine said...

What a great attitude. He is like Francona in that both understand that baseball is too important to be taken with an undue degree of seriousness. 'Loose' (and hairy!) is right.

Pokerwolf said...

With Tito, Maddon, and Showalter as managers in the AL East this year, it's going to be fun to watch.

Those pants are making me giggle out loud at work! Ha!

Professor Twain said...

Maddon deserves a lot of credit for generating so many wins with the players he has.

I agree that Francona is just as good at what he does--although he has the somewhat different challenge of dealing with the egos of superstars, crazed fans, and a swarming media, problems Maddon doesn't face.

laura k said...

Maddon is definitely my second favourite manager. (I might secretly like him better than Tito, but team loyalty wins out.)

I knew I had to learn more about Joe Maddon when he needed time off during the season to attend his partner's (i.e. girlfriend's) law school graduation.

The announcers were being snide about it, clearly they didn't consider this important enough to miss games for. But I thought, 1, the guy has a partner becoming a lawyer, so she's smart, and that speaks well of him, and 2, he is putting aside his own career for a bit to support her. There's something to this guy.

laura k said...

I'd say Mark Twain, Wayne Dyer and Branch Rickey

This is amazing. I love what this says about him.

I don't know if you all know Wayne Dyer, it's probably a little outdated, or been swamped by all the pandering imitators. But in the late 1970s into the early 1980s, this man's books changed my life - literally. Helped free me from so much crap and completely remake my attitude and self-image.

To see him included with Branch Rickey and Mark Twain - wow!!

allan said...

I went back to my November 2003 post that mentioned Maddon's interview with the Red Sox. Two of the links still work: ProJo and MLB.


I used to be made fun of for carrying a computer. Now everyone on (the team) airplane has one. It was met with a lot of resistance at first. Like anything new, it takes a while to catch on.

It can improve your work. I started using them in the early '90s. I've always been an organization freak. When computers came along, I found it a better way to organize my stuff. I started using computer programs to track the opposition, whether it was a spray chart or a manager's tendencies.

It's not so much that the computer wins the game, but it helps you organize and think more clearly during the course of the game. You're talking about information and people. They are two separate issues. The person is always going to count more. When it comes down right to it, you can only give (data) to the players in small handfulls. Once you get it and dispense it, you have to determine who can handle what and how much and if it's going to be productive and counter productive.

[The Red Sox] are one of the most desirable and fascinating franchises in all of sports. For me, it's about time I started getting into the flow of these things. I've been a Major League coach for 10 years. Everyone keeps asking when I'm going to try and become an Major League manager. I said, when somebody asks. This (opportunity) came together when Theo called me about a week ago. It's very flattering that they would ask me. I think this is a tremendous opportunity.

It's something you can't just walk into and feel totally comfortable from jump street. You have to walk in there and feel the pulse and get to understand it. It's an intimidating job, a big job. Baseball-wise, it's at the top end of the baseball world. It's very intriguing. That place has somewhat of a magic sense to it. It's different than all the other ballparks. Of all the parks I've been to, Fenway is absolutely the most unique.

allan said...

When I saw the name, I thought you had a connection!

allan said...

A reader sent me a link with Maddon talking about managing Manny:

"I used to have a T-shirt. And it said, 'Tell me what you think, not what you've heard.' So I'm not going to rely on what I've heard. Ever. Ever. ... I've got to make up my own opinion. I've got to make up my own mind at the end of the day."

(What's the best way to manage a complicated figure like Manny? The secret, Maddon believes, just might be to listen.)

"You know what I've learned about Manny? He's very serious about his craft. I mean, he messes around. He has a good time. But he's very serious about playing this game and playing this game well. I think there's a real misconception out there that this guy doesn't care, or he's just going to go through the motions. He truly wants to do well, extremely well. I think he loves this game as much as ever. ... So I'm finding out how serious he is. And I'm finding out how knowledgeable he is, about hitting in particular. He really has some great thoughts on hitting. And he's also able to relay them on to other guys."


laura k said...

When I saw the name, I thought you had a connection!

When I was in college, I wrote him to say thank you. He sent me autographed copies of his other books. We still have those.

laura k said...

It's not so much that the computer wins the game, but it helps you organize and think more clearly during the course of the game.

I.e. it's a TOOL.

And not in the sense that Johnny Damon is a tool.

Good summary of information vs people and how they work together in the game.