In November of 2014, Joe Maddon kicked off his Cubs tenure by getting a beer and a shot for the entire bar at Cubby Bear. Five years later, Joe took questions from the media with a Corona in his hand.
What Joe Maddon did in between those adult beverages is something Cubs fans will remember for the rest of their lives.
Before I continue, I want to state that I do not have a personal relationship with Joe Maddon. I truly respect every single thing he has done for the Chicago Cubs. This may get a little emotional and weird but that is what Joe has done for this franchise. He forever altered the reputation of the Chicago Cubs and I cannot thank him enough for that.
Before we get into what he meant to me as a diehard Cubs fan, just take a look at what he has done since becoming the manager of the Cubs:
- 471-338 record in 5 seasons, second highest winning percentage in franchise history
- 19 postseason wins, most in franchise history
- 4 straight playoff appearances
- 3 straight NLCS appearances
- 2015 Manager of the Year
- 2016 World Series Champion
In the 5 years before Joe threw on the Cubs uniform, the team averaged 93 losses a season. In the 5 years Joe was manager, the team averaged 67 losses season. The Cubs used to be known as the “lovable losers”, safe to say that is no longer to case. Joe Maddon is part of the reason that title no longer matters on the North Side.
Joe Maddon made his fair share of mistakes, there is no doubt about that. He often juggled lineups too much, seemed clueless when managing a pitching staff, and made a lot of decisions that questioned how he was successful at the major league level. If you question how he is successful based off his in game decisions, take a look at what some of his players had to say about Maddon leaving. Anthony Rizzo got emotional when asked and said “he changed my life..I love him like a dad”. Javy Baez one of the main reasons he is an MVP caliber player is because Joe allowed him to be Javy. Jon Lester said “Joe should be revered as a legend here”. Joe Maddon always had his player’s backs. He took the blame at every step of the way and lauded the players for every great thing they did. He never pointed a finger once at a player and never blamed anyone but himself for the Cubs shortcomings.
Most importantly, Joe Maddon did what no other manager has been able to do since 1908. He won a World Series Championship for the Chicago Cubs. Just typing that sentence still gives me chills. The 2016 Chicago Cubs are a team that will never be forgotten in Chicago. A big reason that is the case is Joe Maddon. Did he almost manage them out of a World Series championship? Absolutely. That team also would not have made it to the big stage without him. He took a group of young, talented players and shut out all the outside noise. He allowed them to be themselves and learn as they went along. He didn’t let any of the outside pressure and expectations inside of that clubhouse. Without his attitude towards those players, that team does not win the World Series.
Unfortunately, baseball has its way of running its course. Joe Maddon was often the scapegoat for glaring holes that were not addressed by the front office. Even then, Joe never once blamed Theo and Jed for their shortcomings. He knew it was on him to make it work and ultimately he fell short. Do I think there is a better fit than Joe Maddon as a manager for the Chicago Cubs? I don’t but I do know a new face is needed. I don’t know who the next manager will be and to be honest there isn’t a specific person I prefer at this point in time. There needs to be a rejuvenation in the clubhouse at 1060 West Addison and sadly Joe needs to suffer because of it.
I hope Cubs fans remember Joe for what he did for a franchise that was synonymous with losing. I hope they don’t think of the bullpen miscues and his shortcomings these last few years. Remember 2016 and all the joy it brought to your life. From the bottom of a diehard Cubs fan’s heart, thank you for everything Joe Maddon. Thank you.