There was a time when being a Cubs fan made you want to join the witness protection program. The results were so bad year in and year out people would literally wear bags over their head to protect their identity and to show their shame in supporting a team that always fell short. The losers were lovable and yet they were still losing and to an extent for many it was an embarassment.
Then along came Joe Maddon. The Cubs finally had a manager to believe in who was more new school than old school. More new potential than old superstitions. And things went from witness protection, to witness…protection. Protection of his players, protection of the integrity of 90 feet, protection of realistic expectations, protection from too much pressure and not letting the pressure outweigh the pleasure, protection of dreaming big, protection from curses, protection from boredom and possibly most of all, protection from sucking.
The history of the Chicago Cubs and the over 100 years of waiting was arguably the heaviest weight that could hang on an athlete. Considering the age of our roster in 2016, it could have been a crushing weight stopping the young, talented roster from fulfilling their destiny and achieving their ultimate goal. However, Joe Maddon was the perfect manager at the perfect time. He connected with the young Cubs so well because his lighthearted, loose clubhouse protected them from the pressure crashing down on them. From theme-costumed road trips to magicians in the clubhouse, Joe Maddon knew how to get the most out of his players without taxing them to any unnecessary great extent.
It took a lovable manager to take the team from lovable losers to lovable winners. Joe Maddon didn’t always make the move you thought he would or even thought he should but in the end it all worked out. In the end, he will be one of Theo Epstein’s greatest acquisitions. As Theo and the gang continue to reshape the roster looking to get back to the top of the MLB mountain in Chicago once again, they will have to do it without Joe Maddon. Hopefully, the new roster they assemble will have the same chemistry the 2016 team had with Joe Maddon.
The fact that Joe Maddon will be managing another ballclub after five years with the Cubs is disappointing. He took the team to four straight post-seasons, three straight NLCS’s and a World Series title before leading an injury battling team into the last week of the season to just miss a chance at additional glory. What Joe Maddon accomplished with the Cubs, in my opinion earned him another shot. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case.
Wherever he gets his next shot (and a beer) and it likely will be with the Angels, they will be lucky to have him. Thank you, Joe Maddon for all you did for the Cubs organization and for all of us Cubs fans.
We’ll miss you greatly, remember you fondly and always appreciate what you helped allow us to witness.