Yahoo Contributor Network
This article was created on the Yahoo Contributor Network, where users like you are published on Yahoo every day. Learn more »Yahoo Contributor Network
Joe Maddon as a Possible Successor to Tony La Russa in St. Louis: A Fan’s Take
The 2011 season was magical for the St. Louis Cardinals. They found themselves 10 ½ games back in the National League wild-card race in August, but posted a 18-8 record in September en-route to clinching the NL wild-card on the last night of the regular season.
Throughout the 2011 season, Cardinals fans knew that one of the biggest names in Cardinals history may not be in a Cardinals uniform in 2012. When the Cardinals got hot in September and October they looked like a team of destiny. This was their year. It was now or never.
The Cardinals pulled off a stunning upset of the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS and shocked the Milwaukee Brewers by defeating them in the NLCS. They capped their improbable run to World Series champions by beating the Texas Rangers in a thrilling seven-game series.
In the wake of their stunning World Series victory, there came an announcement that Cardinals fans had feared all season long. One of their own wouldn't be back in 2012.
No, Albert Pujols(notes) wasn't leaving (at least not yet, he's still a free agent). Tony La Russa, the Cardinals skipper since 1996, announced he was retiring from baseball after 33 years as a manager in the Major Leagues.
La Russa leaves behind a huge pair of shoes to fill. He ranks third in victories by a Major League manager with 2,728 and he ranks second in postseason victories with 70. He won three World Series titles (1989 with the Oakland A's; 2006 and 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals) and is only the second manager to win the World Series in both the American League and National League.
There have been several names kicked around as possible successors to Tony La Russa. One of the most interesting names mentioned has been Joe Maddon, the current manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.
In many ways Maddon is similar to La Russa. Both managers are known for micro managing their teams, relying heavily on match ups to determine what line-up to use or which reliever to bring into the game. Both are known to be innovators who aren't afraid to think outside the box in order to help their teams win a game.
Maddon's resume isn't nearly as long or as impressive as La Russa's, but you can't argue with the level of success he's had with the Rays over the last four seasons.
Before Joe Maddon took over as the manager in Tampa, the Devil Rays had been the doormat of the American League. Their bench mark for success was 70 wins. The only thing the Devil Rays were good at was finishing in last place.
All of that began to change in 2008. Off the field, the organization dropped the "Devil" from the team name and rebranded themselves as the Tampa Bay Rays. On the field, Joe Maddon (with help from the Rays front office) led the team through a stunning turnaround. Since 2008 the Rays have made the playoffs three times, won two AL East titles and were the 2008 AL Champions. Maddon and the Rays have been able to accomplish this while operating on one of the smallest payrolls in all of baseball.
There are greener pastures then the Tropicana Field Astro Turf for Joe Maddon to consider. The Rays have ongoing attendance issues, financial constraints and stadium issues. On the other hand, the Cardinals boast one of the best stadiums in all of baseball, a fan base that has undying support for the team and a payroll that's two or three times greater than the payroll in Tampa.
Maddon has expressed his desire to stay in Tampa and most Rays' fans hope he stays. He has been, by far, the most successful manager the Rays have ever known. There are times he can frustrate the Rays fan base with his continual defensive shifts, line-up adjustments (the Rays almost never play the same line-up two nights in a row) and shuffling of the bullpen. However, you can't argue with the level of success Maddon and the Rays have enjoyed on the field.
If the Cardinals are lucky enough to lure Joe Maddon away from the Rays then they'll have an excellent replacement for La Russa. Maddon may not be the biggest name on the market (especially with Terry Francona being available), but he could be the best fit for the Cardinals. However, as a Rays fan, I hope Maddon decides to stay in Tampa and continues to build on the success the Rays have enjoyed over the last four seasons.
Sean McDonnell has been a resident of the Tampa Bay area for the past 21 years. He is an avid fan of the Tampa Bay Rays; Tampa Bay Bucs and USF Bulls.
*Statistics provided by Yahoo Sports
Additional articles from this author:
Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.