ANAHEIM, Calif. — If ever a man was born and bred to successfully run a pro baseball team, it’s Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.
Hired from the Angels prior to the 2006 season, Mike Scioscia’s former bench coach has taken the Rays from a terrible expansion franchise to one of the best teams in the game.
By 2008, Maddon had guided Tampa Bay to its first winning season and first World Series appearance. The Rays have won at least 84 games every season since 2008 and have been to the playoffs three times. And while Maddon is recognized as one of MLB’s brightest leaders, it isn’t his ability to maneuver the X’s and O’s that has made him a hot commodity every time there’s a managerial opening.
The skipper joined The Joe McDonnell Podcast to discuss all matters Maddon,
while also talking about his good friend Scioscia and the rough season
the Angels and Rays have endured.
“What it is,” said Scioscia prior to Sunday afternoon’s game with Texas, ” is that Joe knows how to get the best out of every player every day. A lot of what a manager has to do to be a consistent leader for his team is find a way to reach the players and make sure they’re motivated. Every manager knows the game well or he wouldn’t have been hired. With the guys who win for a long time or who turn around struggling franchises, their communication skills are better than the others.”
Maddon is a master motivator for sure, but not in the typical way.
Virtually every year, Maddon has his players dress up in goofy outfits to keep them loose.
“You have to do things like that,” he said, “because it’s a long season and you’ve got to have some fun along the way. If you’re always serious and never laughing you’ll eventually collapse. That’s why I try to come up with some new and different idea every year to take the players’ minds off the game for a few minutes and give them a chance to breathe.”
Just a few weeks ago it was back to the zoo for Maddon’s latest example of the zaniness that goes on in the Rays’ clubhouse.
Earlier this season, Maddon got a couple of penguins from the Florida Aquarium to help his players “chill out” after a 9-11 start to the year. On Aug. 15, he had a 20-foot python brought into the clubhouse, causing a national commotion. His players, though, loved it.
Who wouldn’t want to play for a guy that goes so far to make it fun to play baseball, and also donates his time and money to important social causes?