Saying Good-Bye (to a Baseball Coach?) by Mark Michniak
In Chicago there is an internal baseball rivalry between the Northside Cubs and the Southside White Sox. In our house growing-up, my parents, siblings, and I were all loyal Cubs fans. If invited, we would attend a White Sox game, but overall, when it came to watching a team play on tv or rooting for one team over the other, we preferred the Cubs. I was very pleased eventually to hear that my now wife was also part of the “Loyal Cubs Club”.
So the big news here in Chicago today is that the Chicago Cubs have come to terms with Joe Maddon and after a lengthy meeting, they have mutually agreed that he will not return next year as the Head Coach. For people who have not grown-up as a Cubs fan, there are several things you have to understand about this decision.
First, Joe Maddon helped bring the Chicago Cubs a World Series Championship in November 2016. This was the team’s first World Series Championship in over 100 years! As a fan, imagine every season you hope that this would be the season that your team wins the big one and each season ending in disappointment. Every year held so much excitement with so many great players and teams that left Cubs fans hopeful only to have those hopes dashed with another season passing without that championship. This was the life of Cubs fans for over 100 years and Joe accomplished what many thought would never come!
Second, Joe Maddon lead his team with a very laid-back, fun approach to managing a team. He did not call regular team meetings and let his players goof around and have fun before games. He did not yell at his players, taking a more positive reinforcement approach to getting his players to do what he felt needed to be done to win. On road trips, Joe would have his players dress in funny attire and costumes when leaving for a city. When interviewed by reporters, he had a funny repertoire of phrases and use of words that made you smile when he answered a question.
Lastly, Joe Maddon was a good man. He was honest and never sugar-coated a situation. If his team lost he explained what happened and didn’t make excuses. He treated his players like men and not like dogs. All the players never had a bad thing to say about him. He greeted fans with a sincere smile and genuinely appreciated the support we gave him. Joe had an aura about him that whenever you saw him, you knew you were looking at a good person who was put on this planet to spread positive vibes. Even in is interview today, about the decision to not renew his contract, he said that there is no anger or ill-will towards the Cubs organization. He said that change is good and that they are parting on good terms. That is a classy man right there!
Now we as Cubs fans are left to move-on. Joe’s time has come. It had only been five years, but Joe helped make these past five years a very exciting time to be a Cubs fan! You can’t help but feel a sad and a tad-bit nostalgic as you see this person move-on that has done so much for your sports enthusiasm. In a small way, it’s like losing a friend or seeing a co-worker you have worked with leave your place of business. Yes, it is only baseball and I never knew Joe Maddon personally, but there is something that was different about Joe Maddon that makes his leaving a little extra hard. Other coaches have left the Cubs and I never felt this way when any of them moved-on. His being around was a very special time that can only be summed-up with one phrase: “The Maddon Experience”!
I wish Joe Maddon all the best in his future and career! Where ever he ends-up, I know that he will continue to spread his special magic and others fans will have the opportunity to enjoy all the good things that Joe has brought to me and Cubs fans everywhere!
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