It’s not going to happen.
You are not going to break Joe Maddon.
Go ahead and throw your recent Cubs managerial history at him, throw around the 106 years of losing. Maddon isn’t buying the doom and gloom.
Don’t get me wrong, the Cubs job Maddon just accepted is a very tough gig. Does Maddon get it? He was asked directly yesterday if he was fully aware about what he had just gotten himself into?
“Beautiful,” Maddon responded.
Yes, we all know about the historic stretch of futility. But that’s all it is at this point…history. The past, in fact, does not exist in the present. In reality, the Cubs’ past is just a memory trace, one that the local Ricks cannot let go of.
“That was then, this is now,” Maddon said. “This is a one-in-a-107-year opportunity. I’m way too optimistic to worry about [past failures] like that. I like the challenge. I think the challenge is fabulous. …Why would you not want to accept this challenge in this city, in that ballpark, under these circumstances with this talent? It’s an extraordinary moment … this confluence of all these items coming together at the same time.”
“Fabulous,” he says.
Accoring to some, Maddon will be in danger of leaving town defeated, much like his predecessors before him. They fear because of, yes, memory traces. Yet, it bears mentioning that Dusty Baker and Lou Piniella didn’t exactly fail here either.
Theo Epstein didn’t buy that he couldn’t win here, much like he already had in Boston under similarly impossible circumstances. Maddon certainly isn’t buying it either. That Cubs brain trust trio that sat at the table yesterday, they don’t buy into goats and goblins. It’s just baseball to them, and they are pretty good at it.
They are either too smart or too crazy to care about the task of slaying imaginary demons.
“This is baseball, don’t ever forget that,” Maddon reminded everyone yesterday.
“You have to have a little bit of crazy to be successful,” Maddon said after his introductory news conference at the Cubby Bear. “I want crazy in the clubhouse every day. You need to be crazy to be great. I love crazy. I tell my players that all the time.”
Oh, Maddon will get crazy here. Thing is, he is going to out-crazy it. Goat meet boa constrictor.
At the end of the new Cubs skipper’s rock-star performance, he bought a round of shots and beers for his new friends in the local media as an encore.
There is little doubt there will be times when this media and these fans will apply the pressure of the past to this new Cubs outfit. If and when the Cubs reach October baseball, the old anxiety will rear its head again. However, I’m convinced Maddon will be the Xanax we have all been waiting for.
“Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.”
That daily affirmation will likely well equip his young bunch to deal with everything Cubs. Now as for the media?
Maddon may want to keep the liquor flowing.