The other day, sportsillustrated.com released a MLB players’ poll on which manager they would most like to play for. Much deservingly, the #1 honors went to Joe Maddon. The man who coaches baseball from his own view behind his trademark, thick-rimmed glasses. Whether he’s impersonating Johnny Cash, starting new fashion trends on the team, or wearing a Bucs helmet at a press conference; he never gets boring.
He’s the most unpredictable and unorthodox baseball coach who ever stepped foot on this planet. What’s not to love about the guy? Not many skippers can have such a successful team while having so much fun. That’s why I think it’s a no-brainer that Maddon was #1 in the poll. What amazes me is how Maddon became such a great coach with a baseball background nothing like most MLB skippers. First of all, Maddon never made it past single-A as a professional catcher. Second, he only managed (as an interim) two years with the Angels before managing the Rays. The only explanation I can give for how Joe became such a great manager, is his influence from Mike Scioscia. Mike Scioscia is also one of the best managers in baseball, and knows the game as well as anybody. Maddon was the bench coach for the Angels for many years while Scioscia was in charge. He learned many things, as he was virtually his apprentice there. Scioscia definitely was an important person in Maddon’s baseball career. Joe even said that he made him the man he was today.
It doesn’t explain one thing. How did Maddon become such an unorthodox coach? ‘Unconventional’ is the name of the game for Joe; pretty much every baseball fan knows that. He has already written his own legacy with untraditional calls that helped the Rays win. For example in 2008, when he told Grant Balfour to intentionally walk in a run with the bases loaded. Or even all the suicide squeeze plays that the Rays executed to leave their American League opponents in awe. Whatever method he uses, Maddon knows how to win and transform young athletes into winning baseball players. Some people are just born with natural wisdom and people skills; experience is not always everything. His legacy will live on and he will influence future MLB managers for many years to come.
For more on the SI.com poll: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/multimedia/photo_gallery/1108/most.popular.manager/content.1.html?eref=sihp