Shields makes Maddon's pants pay the price

April 2, 2012

Joe Maddon is one of Major League Baseball’s biggest proponents of camaraderie in the clubhouse, and he has the track record to prove it.

After all, the Rays manager is the mastermind behind his team’s popular themed costume road trips over the past few seasons, he helped organize a team head-shaving event earlier this spring to support cancer research, and the Tampa Bay clubhouse can be one of the most raucous and entertaining scenes in baseball after games.

Maddon — the bespectacled, car-collecting wine aficionado who recently called the Boston Red Sox’s beer ban "asinine" — definitely knows how to have fun off the field, and it seems to be translating to success on it, too. The Rays have won 368 games over the past four seasons and have reached the playoffs three times, including a World Series trip in 2008.

But over the weekend, the laid-back leader of arguably the most tight-knit groups in baseball paid the price — or more precisely, his pants did — when he decided to deviate from one of his own plans for team bonding.

Maddon and his players, who open the regular season Friday at home against the New York Yankees, decided to let loose on the final Saturday of another grueling spring training by wearing gym shorts to their pre-game workout instead of traditional baseball pants.

However, Maddon and Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey still elected to wear long pants — but not for long. Rays right-hander James Shields took it upon himself to make sure his coaches followed along with the plan and dressed accordingly.

"Everyone told us we were wearing shorts today, and there a couple guys here who aren't abiding by that team chemistry," Shields said in front of a group of teammates, before calling Maddon and Hickey up to the front of the huddle.

"So what we decided to do, instead of having you go in and change your shorts, I'm just going to go ahead and cut shorts into your pants."

And with that, Shields took a pair of scissors and cut both Maddon and Hickey’s pants off at the thigh, allowing the lower half of the pant leg to slide down and bunch up around the coaches’ ankles. Maddon would later remove the new leg-warmers, but he kept his custom cutoffs for the rest of the practice.

When asked about it later, Maddon told the Tampa Bay Times that the look was “awful” but it comes as no surprise that the coach — who called out the mantra “one band, one sound” before his trouser trim — would be willing to sacrifice high fashion for the good of his ballclub.