August 18, 2009
Joe Maddon can pass for Mad Men's Roger Sterling no longer.
Hoping that a change will somehow get his middling team to walk the line, the former silver fox showed up to Tropicana Field for Tuesday night's game with his hair colored jet black and said he plans to keep it that way for the rest of the season.
But why black instead of blonde, red, green or Rays purple? Well, it seems that Maddon and the Rays are headed on a Johnny Cash-themed road trip next week and the bespectacled one — who was born with brown hair — is taking The Man In Black label rather seriously.
"I had been wanting to do it," said Maddon, who had his wife, Jaye, dye his hair for him. "I had been wanting to do something different. We have the 'Ring of Fire' road trip coming up, so I was going to wait until Sunday to do it, but I thought, 'Why not, in advance, just to get it out there, loosen things up a bit?'"
He's not the reigning AL manager of the year for nothing, folks. Last season, Maddon adopted the Rayhawk hairstyle fad that swept Florida's Gulf Coast and his team ended up in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. And the last time he dyed his hair came in 2002, when he was a coach with Angels. They went onto win the World Series.
This year has been mostly a downer, but he's obviously hoping that fussing with his follicles — instead of, say, putting a boot to B.J. Upton's(notes) bum — will have an impact on a team that desperately needs it. Heading into Tuesday night's contests, the Rays trailed the Yankees by 10 games in the AL East and the Rangers by four games in the race for the AL wild card.
So far, so good — the Rays beat the Orioles 5-4 in the first game of Maddon's Back in Black era — but the cautionary tale of former Rays manager Lou Piniella should be heeded.
Back in 2003, Sweet Lou had blond streaks put into his hair after his team — which had much, much different expectations — won a whopping three straight games.
But despite the motivational reward, the Devil Rays, as they were known back then, went out and lost that night's game 11-3. They went 33-44 to finish the season and ended the year with 99 losses. That's probably not the result the Rays' boy named Sue is looking for.
Still, this is a different team and Upton may have already used the color of his skip's hair as fuel for his fire. On Tuesday night, the center fielder posted one of his best days of the year, going 3-for-4 with a homer, a triple and two RBIs.
Below: A few classic shots from Piniella's time with his beautician.
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