Re: The Greatness of Joe Maddon?
posted at 9/10/2011 12:23 PM EDT
I like both Maddon and Francona (Francona alot) but mostly because they're great people managers.
My appreciation of Francona really, really
began one day in October 2007 during the Sox/Indians series. Ian Browne of MLB.com wrote an article on Francona about how he manages the fine line between player loyalty and winning. For the most part I think people will generally agree that you can do just about anything if you put your mind to it. And from that statement its a crow hop to saying you can find a way to win any game if you're creative enough.
My personal feeling is that in baseball, or in life, you can achieve your goals if you're willing to to take on any cost. In sports costs can often times be overlooked by the media/fans: injuring a pitcher by going with him too often, playing a semi-injured player into a more serious injury for the sake of a playoff win, or benching a veteran that has had a storied career in favor of a rook that may be playing a hot hand lately. Because let's face it: these guys get paid to play a game and who cares if they injure limb/pride so long as the team continues to win. I've often times felt that way myself.
But when the lights go out and the cameras are packed up, what are you left with? Memories? Sure, if you win. Any substantial life changes? Perhaps, by way of increased salary. A ring for certain and perhaps other material things. But all that goes cold. Fame is certainly fickle and that last only so long as you're in the headlines.
Things that endure are things like respect and friendship. Thats true wealth and that is what I believe Francona's coaching style earns him in spades. Francona's coaching philosophy may not make him the best manager at winning a game
per se, but I believe it makes him one of the best at winning many games
. In the long haul Francona has proven highly successful with the Red Sox (lest we forget the decades of stomach acid and ridicule from our NY brethren) and has earned the respect of players across MLB.
Anyways, here's a select piece from an article written by Ian Brown
back during the '07 Pennant Race...Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling knows Francona better than any other player on the Red Sox. They were together for the down years in Philly, now they've been part of a run of success in Boston.
"He really is, I think, a highly underrated manager," Schilling said. "We play a season here where everybody dissects every game as if it's a football game -- pitch by pitch, inning by inning, move by move -- and everybody wants him to manage every game of the season like it's a playoff game, and he understands he can't. He understands his players, he understands his people and he understands the long-term implications of all of that. He never wavers from who he is.
"He said something to me a long time ago after the Philadelphia job had gone away, and he said, 'You're fired the day you're hired, they just don't put that date on your contract. If you stay true to yourself the entire time you wear the uniform, when that day comes, you go to sleep at night.' And he's always stayed true to himself and to his players."
That, to me, is true wisdom worth its weight many times over in gold. That philosophy of coaching will earn you the eternal grattitude of your players and coaching staff and will, more often than not, earn you W's over the long haul.
That's why I like coaches like Maddon and Francona. They're excellent people managers that won't sacrifice their first born for the sake of a win. They believe the win more over the long haul, the important games too, by sticking to their guns and not caving to "win at any cost" mentality which is too often seen today as the only way to win.