This Is Just “Joe Being Joe”, and I Love It!
The comical and dramatic sight we all saw on the Rays post game live on Sunday is why I am so enamored with Rays Manager Joe Maddon. Even the thought of paying a post game homage to his friend and sports buddy Tampa Bay Buccaneer Coach Raheem Morris was a stroke of slapstick genius.
Added to the madness was a spirited dash into camera view of Rays Bench Coach Dave Martinez pushing his way in with a Gatorade bottle for Maddon while Maddon used his game day line-up card covering his mouth like an NFL Coach on the sideline. This guy seriously gets it.
Sure some have made fun of Maddon in the past when he has spouted a $ 20 word when a .50 cent derivative would have sufficed, they have even made a bit of a mockery of his choice of spectacles, but this guy can see the soul of his team and adjust on the fly like no one else in Major League Baseball.
Even his themed road trips that were first mocked by some around MLB as a publicity stunt has shown that the team has come to enjoy it just as much as Maddon. From the John Cash inspired all-black trip, to the pajama party plane parade, Maddon has taken this young crew that has career paths going in 4-different directions at times and each steps in unison with the others now. Name me another MLB Manager who has been hit with a shaving cream pie by his team out of respect, not retaliation and has laughed harder about it then anyone. Maddon is truly a master MLB magician.
What other better example of Maddon switching gears with precision that his recent proclamation that he doesn’t want player showing up to the home games before the 3 pm clock chimes. So what if the Rays only have 3 more wins on the road than at home this season, Maddon wants his team to take a step back relax before the stress and pressure of the coming weeks produces mistakes, errors and a possible chance to catch either the Yankees or Red Sox.
From letting his players right now set their Tropicana Field arrival times accustom with their usual road routines, it produces as Maddon states, “players ready to play at 7:10 instead of 3:10”. His outside the collective MLB box might again get his team an emotional and mental edge with the season grinding to that thin teetering point of contending or pretending.
Maddon will either be marked a hero or a zero for this action, but so far his team has shown some remarkable resounding victories in a stadium that used to dog them earlier in the season. From 2007-2010 any team heading into the Trop thought they could take 1 games, maybe even steal a second, but sweeping the Rays at home was not a viable option.
The Rays first Manager Larry Rothchild was thought to be the guy to help establish a pitching mode and stability to this team while the Rays offense found its niche. Hal McRae was said to be the conductor/ Manager who was to bring the Rays field players to their next level.
Former Rays Manager Lou Piniella was thought to be the dominant Manager who taught these guys the art of winning and being a professional. Maddon was the choice to take the young Rays players to that next level of preforming like professionals, being accountable for your actions and letting them play with their hearts as well as their muscles.
Maddon was the perfect final piece to the Rays evolution. He is a player Manager, and he is a stickler for playing the game within the rules and guidelines set between the lines. But off the field, behind that Rays Carolina Blue curtain, he is the wizard at the controls. So what if he wears a football helmet to a Press Conference, as long as this team is winning, gaining ground on their foes and showing they give 110%, a little chuckle and dramatic effect is fine with me…..Just no Carmen Miranda headdress…please.