Perhaps he’d be a little more open to discussing the propriety of his managerial choices after the second bottle of Publix wine has been opened and the setting sun is casting your lengthening shadows against Cousin Eddie. Take away the coastal setting and the grocery-store vintage, however, and you get vintage Joe Maddon.
“It’s fascinating to me regarding the second-guessing because the only reality I know is that we won,” the Cubs skipper quipped Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. “That’s the one reality that I do know. We have oftentimes talked about outcome bias. If you had done something differently, would it have turned out better? But better than winning, I don’t know what that is.”
He’s kinda got a point there, at least in terms of the inability to predict the outcome of decisions that weren’t made. So in that sense it’s hard to argue with the results, historically successful as they were. What if we look at it a different way, though?
If I make a wrong turn and add a couple miles to my trip, it’s still technically successful as long as I reach my destination. But that isn’t going to stop my wife from asking me what I was thinking taking the wrong exit and then winding along country roads when the interstate is clear.
Similarly, criticism of Maddon’s methods has filled the silence between cheers and persisted long after the tears had dried and the confetti had been swept up.
“I have talked about the bar room banter and I definitely know that I was able to fill up, based on my decision-making in that game, a lot of bar room banter throughout the Chicago area or nationally, internationally,” Maddon joked. “But the point is when you work a game like that, there is not an eighth game, there is only a seventh game.”
There is no Dana, only Zuul. So does that make Maddon the Gatekeeper or the Keymaster? The answer’s really not important as far as this particular sub-creature is concerned, since the result was what it was. What is important is that the game, for the most part, all went according to the script.
“Everything you saw us do that night I planned out before the game began and felt strongly about it and still do.”
But wait a minute, I thought the plan was to bring Jon Lester into a clean inning. Instead, he entered with two outs in the 5th after the supernatural Carlos Santana had reached via walk.
“It’s almost like there’s a ghost at first base,” Maddon explained of his decision to go against his stated strategy. “It’s almost like Jonny did have a clean inning and I told him that when he came in.”
Man, it would have been great if he had said, “I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost.” Alas, he chose not to channel Ray Parker, Jr. as he closed out his rebuttal to those who would choose to question him.
“It’s not July 3rd, where you can possibly have another game and absorb a loss,” Maddon explained. “You can’t. So you have to do all these things in a different method on that particular day that you can’t do in the middle of the season.”
The second-guessing will probably continue ad infinitum, but all Maddon’s ever got to do in response is point to the Commissioner’s Trophy and smile.