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Joe Maddon Rated 3rd In National Manager Ranking

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We already knew the new Cubs manager was highly-rated. Here's one list from a national baseball writer... and some thoughts on a Maddon comment from last week.

David Sameshima

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranked all 30 big-league managers in his Sunday column. Cubs manager Joe Maddon rated third, behind only Bruce Bochy and Buck Showalter, in Cafardo's view. Here's what he wrote about Maddon:

Consistently near the top of these rankings. Innovative, fun, smart. Don’t like that he reintroduced defensive shifts to the game. New challenge with the Cubs, but similar to the Rays in that he’ll be managing young players and trying to elevate the organization. He can do that.

Some of that seems contradictory. Carfardo says Maddon is "innovative" and "smart," but then criticizes him for reintroducing defensive shifts, something I definitely see as being both of those things. It's then up to other managers to be "innovative" and "smart" to try to adjust to those shifts. Cafardo is definitely spot-on in saying Maddon is good with working with young players and trying to "elevate" the organization, something he did very well in Tampa Bay.

Before I move on to another Maddon-related topic, in looking down the 30-manager ranking in this article, I was taken by the fact that MLB will have four managers this year (Kevin Cash, Chip Hale, Jeff Banister and Paul Molitor) who have never managed in the big leagues before (though all do have coaching experience). I can't recall any recent season where there have been that many managerial debuts. (I'm sure someone will prompt my memory by finding one, though.)

Now, on to another Maddon-related topic, which was his statement that he wasn't in favor of MLB's attempts to quicken the pace of play, first discussed in this FanShot from last week. Hey, you all had fun wondering why I didn't post about it. First, we had quite a bit of other news last week and I happened to be away from the computer and busy when this story was posted and by the time I thought about writing about it, you all had made quite a number of comments. But let me weigh in -- and this also gives me another chance to repost the poll on this topic with less, uh, "commentary" in the choices of response.

First, I think it's well-known what my position is on this issue and Maddon's comments aren't going to change my mind. But let's look at Maddon's exact quote from the si.com article linked in the FanShot:

"I'd like to know the real reason why we need to do something about it," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. "What is the purpose behind the faster game? I'm not really clear on that. So that, I don't understand.

"To me, I think it's more of a media kind of thing — probably deadlines at the end of the night based on more items being carried simultaneously as opposed to the newspaper the next day. It has to be tied into that somehow. Little Joey, 10 years old, wishes the game is four hours. I was wishing for extra innings every night. I never cared about how long a baseball game was. Listening to it on the radio or watching it on TV, [I was] hoping it goes longer."

First, we are not talking about the length of games per se. We are talking about the pace of games. If a nine-inning game winds up at three and a half hours with a 13-12 score because of a lot of offense, hits, things happening -- well, I think that's great. If a nine-inning 3-2 game runs three and a half hours because batters are incessantly stepping out of the box to adjust their crotches and batting gloves, or pitchers are scuffling the dirt on the mound for 40 seconds between pitches, then I think we have a problem. (Please note that extra-inning games aren't part of this discussion.)

Further, while 50 years ago a 10-year-old "Little Joey" Maddon might have been wishing for extra innings every night and hoping games would go four hours, modern "Little Joeys" have much shorter attention spans. Major League Baseball is having issues with people leaving games early and, more importantly for TV revenue, turning TV games off before they're over because kids can't sit still that long.

Again, this is not something I just made up. MLB is, as a whole, concerned about the pace of play and trying to do something about it. Simple enforcement of rules already on the books, regarding the time in between pitches and hitters stepping out of the box, might be enough to knock some time off the length of games -- the average in 2014 was the longest ever -- without doing some of the more radical things proposed, such as limiting pitching changes. I should go on the record as saying I'm not really in favor of those types of things. Let's enforce the rules already on the books and see what happens. I'll be very interested to see how the pitch-clock tests go in Double-A and Triple-A this year.

Vote in the new poll on this topic and I'm sure you'll have things to say in the comments.