Many teams have managers or general managers who set lots of rules for players. The Cubs under Joe Maddon aren't going to be one of those teams, writes Bruce Miles in the Daily Herald. Here's what Maddon said about rules on Friday, quoted by Miles:
"I was talking about in a baseball sense," he said. "Society needs rules. I wasn't talking about anything beyond the limitations of our clubhouse, when you're in an organization within a team concept, and I'm talking about accountable, professional people. You can't do that with a bunch of fifth-graders. Do not try this on your fifth-grade class. It doesn't work, I'll tell you in advance." In other words, players can do as they please as long as they focus on the game. "When you have a bunch of accountable, professional players who have worked very hard to get to this point, know what it takes to be successful, why would I want to get in the way of their day with some inane rules and stuff that means nothing?" he asked. "Dress means nothing. It has nothing to do with your success or failures, how they wear their socks, if they have long hair, if they have an earring. Why would I ever care about something like that? Every generation has its own little gig going on. "Back in the day, I had long hair. It was down to my shoulders. I was very proud of it. It was actually brown at that time, too, from what I remember. So why do you always want to impose your will on everybody else? I don't quite understand that."
This makes a great deal of sense. Maddon speaks specifically about "dress" in this quote, and I have never quite understood teams, such as the Yankees (or Reds back in the 1970s and 1980s), that have rules on facial hair or the length of head hair. Really? These players aren't entering the Army, they're going out to play a game. Maddon's got the right attitude about this, absolutely, and I also think he's got the right attitude regarding focusing on the game. By stripping away any non-baseball rules, Maddon is asking his players to put their complete focus on their craft and on the field. The rest, as he notes, is irrelevant to baseball.
I can't say enough good things about Maddon and his approach to managing a team. He doesn't get bogged down in little details, as some previous Cubs managers have (Lou Piniella comes to mind, as does Don Baylor). He doesn't appear rigid in his approach to the game, as we saw in Dusty Baker. He's said often that he wants his players to have fun -- now who was the last Cubs manager who did that? Gabby Hartnett? Maybe no one?
Maddon acknowledges in this quote that he thinks his players are professional and have worked hard to get where they are, which is undoubtedly true. This statement alone tells the players that Maddon has their backs, but he also mentions being "accountable." That's important because even though there are no "rules," Maddon will expect the players to do everything required of them on the field or he'll hold them accountable to that. But he's also often got a smile on his face, as you see above (and hopefully soon, I'll have more photos of him in a Cubs uniform). He seems to be a man who is truly enjoying his work. I expect we'll see him smiling quite a bit, especially if the team begins winning.
You really can't expect more from someone you're working for. He sounds like someone who'd be successful as a manager in just about any business. You can see why he was so successful managing the Rays. The Cubs are lucky to have him.
Anyway, on a slow Saturday I thought you'd like to have a Cubs-related post for discussion.