Thursday, November 13, 2008

Boy, was I wrong about Maddon

I was wrong about Joe Maddon. I think a lot of us were.

I was one of those who thought he was too positive, too nice to manage at the major league level.

I thought the Rays needed someone a little tougher, a little gruffer.


What they needed was someone who could put out the fires left by Lou Piniella, who torched the franchise on his way out of town.

What they needed was a positive face and a positive voice to attract fans chased away by the old ownership.

What they needed was someone who could see the bright spots in all the losing; a guy who noticed better at-bats and a better approach on the mound even when those better at-bats and better approaches on the mound still led to losses.

What they needed was someone who cared less about his won/loss record and more about the development of the younger players.

What they needed they got: Joe Maddon.

A different cat (his words) for sure, but the right cat for the Rays.

The players fed off his positive nature.

Too soft to handle big league egos? Ha! Ask B.J. Upton, who was benched twice last season for not hustling or Dioner Navarro, who got the old “shape up or you’re done” speech in 2007.

Maddon kept the Rays together through the mounting injuries and led them to a first-place finish in the American League East and the American League pennant.

You don’t do that by being nice. You do that by knowing the game and knowing how to manage a team.

How good was Maddon in 2008? He was the best manager in the American League; the best in all of the major leagues, too.

Great hire, that Joe Maddon.

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