April 06, 2009
Using a never-before-tried mix of modern philosophy and new math, Joe Maddon led the Rays to the highest ground the franchise had ever reached after a decade stuck in the mud.
Few saw any of it coming — the early season rise in the AL East, the repeated victories in the last at-bat, the late-season brush-off of the Red Sox — all of the way to the World Series. Players win games, but Maddon's ability to project excitement while keeping (and looking) cool made all of it possible.
During spring training, the man behind the exotic eyeglasses who would prefer to ride his $2,000 bike to work tried to explain where his unique brand of philosophies and motivations comes from.
Joe Maddon: There hasn't been any outcry but I have seen some sarcasm. Sarcastic remarks, really, and I don't really take that too seriously. I don't think my skewed math is going to impact today's youth in a negative way.
DB: If you could borrow someone else's identity for one day, whom would you become?
JM: An identity for one day. Dead or alive?
JM: Mark Twain.
JM: I'm just so impressed with his thinking. The stuff that I've read as quotes. His zest for life and also his take on human nature. His ability to look at something and put it into words. It's everlasting, it's got universality, it never goes away.
DB: Any living person you can think of?
JM: Somebody today? Immediately, I go through authors, people that I respect. I'd say... it's a tough one because there's a lot... I'd say Wayne Dyer. I'm really a big fan of his and how he thinks. It's all about "thought." Whatever you think, wherever you think, that's pretty much how you're going to manifest yourself to the rest of the world.
I'm just really impressed with his way of thinking. I've read a lot of his stuff also and I try to apply it to my own personal life as well as [managing].
Whether it's "Wisdom of the Ages" where he's writing about 60 of the most influential people in his mind's eye. He also talks about believing it and you'll see it. I thought that was spectacular; I just like his way of thinking and explaining things and it makes sense to me. So I wouldn't mind exploring that mind for a day.
DB: Ever meet him?
JM: Have not.
DB: Who's your favorite Twain character or book?
JM: I just think it's Mark Twain. It's not about one book and it's not about one particular character, it's about him his personality. I'll tell you about another guy, and I skipped over it, would be Branch Rickey. I'd say Mark Twain, Wayne Dyer and Branch Rickey are three of the people that I... Branch Rickey, for me, is so far ahead of his time. I've read a lot of his books; the book by Lee Lowenfish ("Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman") more recently.
That's had a big influence on me and kind of validates a lot of the stuff we're doing here right now. If you go back to the 1915 Cardinals, when they were really bad — the St. Louis Cardinals — and the Browns were better than them at them at that point. And how they build themselves into the World Series in the '20s, and eventually he builds the Cardinals and then the Dodgers and has a heavy influence with the Pirates also. And his forward thinking in regard to player development and scouting and all those things. He was willing to take a chance and cut against the grain a bit. Now, it's an accepted form of thinking. At that time, it was way ahead of its time. In a baseball sense, I'd say Mr. Rickey.
DB: For which cause would you ride your bike coast to coast?
JM: There'd be several causes I'd ride my bike coast to coast. The cause that I really apply myself to here is the homeless situation. ... Coast to coast, it would have to be something with kids. When it comes right down to it, if I did something like that... I'm a big fan of St. Jude's hospital and the work they do. I'm a novice in a lot of this stuff. Whether it would be to help kids in medical treatment, or anything to help in reading or the arts, just anything that helps kids.
DB: Could you be a bike messenger in New York City?
JM: Twenty years ago.
DB: Which major league city is the most bicycle friendly?
JM: Most bike friendly. Wow. Boston's really good. Chicago's good once you get to the lake. Actually, Anaheim's really good when you get down to the beach. If you put your bike in the trunk and go somewhere, Detroit's got a great path as well, believe it or not. If you're just going out of your hotel room, right to the path, to me it's Boston.
DB: Should you think about platooning (left-handed hitting) Dave Martinez as your bench coach because he isn't as effective against left-handers (-.083 career OPS)?
JM: Davey Martinez is just a very impactful (sic) coach/player/player/coach. I think he handles them all pretty well.
DB: Did Tony Parker do the right thing, meeting with you and getting your permission to ask Longoria to marry him?
JM: [Laughs]. Did he do the right thing by her? Absolutely.
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DB: How many people named Ray can you name in 30 seconds?
JM: Ray Stevens, Ray Culley, Ray Klocek, Ray Ray. (Desperately looking around). Who do we got here? Ray the Attendant. Ray the Security Guy. Ray... What's the actor's name? Is it Ray Jensen?
DB: Ray Liotta.
JM: Ray Liotta's a good one. I'm running out of Rays. Ray Berry. Raymond Berry.
DB: Ray Charles.
JM: I love Ray Charles.
DB: You went 19-10 as skipper of the '99 Anaheim Angels — can you believe you didn't get American League Interim Manager of the Year?
JM: It was a hard pill to swallow at that particular time. I did sulk a bit for the first month, through the [off-]season but then I thought of, "whatever I put out there (in karma) comes back to me."
DB: How close are you to eradicating assumptionism forever?
JM: Closer, we're actually getting closer at that. It's going to take another year or two.
DB: Do you get your glasses supplied through an endorsement, or do you have to go to the hardware store just like the rest of us?
JM: I buy them. I just bought two new pair.
DB: Does anyone corporate approach you and say, "Wear these"?
JM: My sunglasses, yes. Kaenon. I work through Kaenon with my sunglasses because they're prescription.
DB: What were you putting on your face when your (to-be) wife finally got you to wear prescription lenses?
JM: They were Walgreens/CVS and they were killing my vision on top of it.
DB: Contacts; will you wear them?
JM: No. Can't. Can't stand the thought of putting something on my eye like that.
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