SKOKIE, IL – Well that wacky genius Joe Maddon is at it again. Sitting atop the Baseball world having won 18 of the Cubs‘ first 24 games, the Chicago Skipper is riding high. And why not? Maddon is the toast of the town in Chicago. Statues, parades have already been erected and held in his honor. Songs have been written paying homage to the greatest manager of all time. The Inventor of the game of baseball.
Maddon’s latest attempt at team-building; morale boosting; preening for a fawning media was yesterday’s wacky, silly, crazy suit wearing exhibition in which all of the players dressed in their zaniest of suits, and paraded in front of waiting cameras for the rest of the baseball world. For the rest of the baseball world to see how cool, loose, hipster, off-beat this Maddon cat really is. The theme of the sartorial silliness was “minimalist zany,” a concept that Maddon came up with during the spring.
In 2015, the Cubs finished in 3rd place in their division. They then defeated the Pirates in the one-game wildcard playoff. In the NLDS round they defeated the Cardinals to advance to the NLCS where the New York Mets absolutely dismantled the favored Cubs in a 4 game sweep. Yes, as dominantly as one team can annihilate another, the Mets destroyed the Cubs in the NLCS leaving no doubt as to identity of the league’s top squad.
So in the offseason, the mastermind of Maddon went to work along with the former Boy Wonder GM Theo Epstein. They needed to close the gap between where the team finished 2015 and the elusive World Championship they hoped to win in 2016 after only 108 years. 17-year-old Theo, who delivered the Red Sox’ first World Championship in 2004 after their own 86-year drought, was knighted in Southie for his performance. Maddon had guided a Tampa Bay team to respectability and an appearance in the World Series in 2008. Maddon had to get by with only 10 straight years of owning the very first pick in the MLB player draft.
Madden landed in Chicago prior to the 2015 season as the savior. The answer to Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. The exterminator of the great Chicago Fire. And success was achieved in that first year, making the NL postseason. But the Cubs approach this past Winter was not to rely upon a fertile farm system developed by Theo (doesn’t exist) or to rely upon the wit and guile of Maddon to squeeze the most out of his roster. No. The Cubs spent in excess of $400M to bring in overrated players like Jason Heyward, and Ben Zobrist.
But “Top Step” Maddon loves the attention; loves being viewed as a maverick who does things differently. So they wear crazy suits, and funny pajamas, and beg the world to look at him! Look at my players! We’re wacky!
You know what? Save it. Win something. Be humble. Until then, keep your zany, wacky ways to yourself. The Mets are the reigning NL Champs. NOT the Cubs. Terry Collins out-managed Maddon last year. Terry F’N Collins! How wacky is that?
Speaking of “zany,” come back tomorrow for @Angry_Ward.