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The Mickey Callaway kerfuffle shows why the Cubs should extend Joe Maddon

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Can you imagine the Cubs manager saying anything to the media like the Mets skipper did?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

You are, no doubt, familiar with the brouhaha that erupted in the Mets clubhouse in Wrigley Field after they lost Sunday’s game to the Cubs. New York’s manager Mickey Callaway went off in a profane rant against a reporter from Newsday, then had to hold two separate news conferences in Philadelphia Monday to sort-of apologize publicly to the reporter:

This was after Callaway compared what he did to... Billy Martin?

Why Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen didn’t fire Callaway on the spot is beyond me — I mean, this is your manager and he compares himself to a manager who punched someone? The Mets appear to be a dysfunctional organization from the top down.

Now compare this to the way Joe Maddon runs the Cubs. Patrick Mooney wrote of this in The Athletic, how Maddon deals with the media and in so doing, not only represents the franchise but helps take pressure off his players:

Maddon always listens to the questions, usually shrugs his shoulders and tries to defuse situations, essential skills for managing a team that went 108 years between World Series titles and operates in a quirky media market.

“I want to believe it’s never adversarial,” Maddon said. “I never feel that way. There are some times when people take — what do you call it? — a ‘shot.’ But I don’t think so. You’re doing your job. I may not like what’s being written sometimes, but that doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. If I feel really strongly convicted and confident in what I’m saying and what I’m doing, then it really shouldn’t bother me.

“The part that — I don’t want to say it bothers me — but sometimes I want to explain myself. But if you explain yourself, then it sounds like you’re making an excuse. And I really want to try to avoid that. So I’d rather just take it and not try to explain the whole thing because it rarely comes off right or well. It’s part of the job.”

Joe is exactly right. Writers often look for narratives and are always looking for a good story, so it’s natural that on occasion someone might ask Joe a question that doesn’t hit him the right way. But he’s always on target with his answers and is, as he notes, confident in his responses and his place in the baseball world. I found this out myself when I had the chance to speak with him at Cactus League Media Day in Arizona last February. I decided to ask him some things that don’t often get touched on, and I got thoughtful and articulate answers.

This is one of the most important things about a modern manager’s job, speaking to the media. If Mickey Callaway can’t handle that — and it doesn’t appear he can — then he needs to go.

In the Patrick Mooney article, Theo praised Maddon for the way he handles the media:

“I think people take for granted how hard it is for managers to speak to the media twice a day,” Epstein said. “Joe is the master at it. Always gives you guys something interesting, but does it in a way that serves our interests and is fair. I know personally, I would not be able to do that. It would ruin my day to have to be that engaged and ‘on.’ Nothing against the writers, but to be that ‘on’ twice a day, I might be too in my own head about that.

“He does it effortlessly. I think he’s a real master at the public aspects to this job — has been for a long time. It’s certainly great for the organization and great for you guys. He does it seemingly with little effort, but I know there’s a lot of thought that goes into it.”

Why would you want to change that and risk hiring someone who doesn’t? The Cubs shouldn’t want Joe Maddon as a “free agent” at the end of the 2019 season, perhaps being approached by the Mets, or the Phillies (where Gabe Kapler is rumored to be possibly replaced, especially after getting the dreaded “vote of confidence” just a day ago), or even by the Nationals to replace his old bench coach Dave Martinez.

I’ve written this many times before, including in the linked article above from last February:

Joe Maddon is one of the smartest men who’s ever managed in Major League Baseball, in my opinion, and we are lucky to have him in Chicago. He’s the best Cubs manager in at least 85 years and, of course, is the one who helped break the drought and bring a World Series championship to all of us.

The Cubs should keep him around as long as he wants to manage.

I stand by that, and I think the Cubs should give him a contract extension before the 2019 season ends. While it’s true that the Cubs have struggled at times this season, I don’t believe any of that is on Joe. He’s only playing the guys Theo & Co. have given him. Hopefully there will be some improvement in that from the front office over the next few weeks.

And I also hope that sometime before this season ends, Joe Maddon will be given a contract extension to stay with the Cubs, perhaps for two more seasons, when the contracts of the current front office also expire.

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Joe Maddon...

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  • 70%
    The Cubs should sign him to a contract extension before the 2019 season ends
    (627 votes)
  • 7%
    The Cubs should sign him to a contract extension, but not until next offseason
    (71 votes)
  • 22%
    The Cubs should not sign him to a contract extension
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