Joe Maddon is resourceful in many ways. Loose clubhouse rules, themed dress-up road trips and other laissez-faire approaches have made the Tampa Bay Rays one of the majors’ most interesting franchises since he became manager before the 2006 season.
Add a few ideas this weekend as the latest examples of his uncommon, but cool perspective. First, before a 1-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, there was a DJ in the Rays clubhouse.
Before these displays, things had become a little tense around Tropicana Field. The Rays finished an 11-day road trip 2-7, which dropped them to 5-10 before an 8-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics at home Friday night.
There was a players-only meeting after the early skid. Maddon wanted to loosen the atmosphere, and as players entered the clubhouse Saturday before the second game of a three-game set against Oakland, they saw a DJ playing classic rock and hip-hop beats outside Maddon’s office.
“I’m not a manager who is into an extra 100 swings before every game,” Maddon told reporters. “I think that could be counterproductive. I want our guys to chill out a little bit, play hard and not worry about making mistakes, ever. This is my way of getting the point across.”
It worked. The Rays won their second consecutive game Saturday, beating the Athletics behind a solo home run from Matt Joyce in the second inning.
“I’ve been in a lot of places,” Rays designated hitter Shelley Duncan told the Tampa Tribune. “But this is the first time I’ve seen a DJ in a clubhouse. I’ve been with this club only a few months and there’s already been a lot of firsts around here.”
Maddon wasn’t done, though. The magician, Geoff Williams of St. Pete Beach, Fla., entertained and, to Maddon’s thinking, hopefully inspired.