Welcome to the North Side, Grandpa Maddon.
The new Cubs manager was quoted in the Chicago Sun Times expressing the antiquated notion that he’d, you know, prefer his players not take excessive pimping liberties following home runs. Doesn’t he know that such actions are now the status quo?
“Act like you’ve done it before and you can do it again,” the manager said. “The touchdown celebration, all that stuff, pounding your chest after dunking a basketball, all this stuff that’s become part of today’s generation of athletes – whether you agree with it being right or wrong doesn’t matter. I would just prefer that our guys would act like they’ve done it before and that they’re going to do it again.”
At question was third-string catcher Welington Castillo, who not only admired his homer from the batter’s box on Tuesday, but upon returning to the dugout sought out coach Manny Ramirez, saying, according to Javy Baez, “”Where’s Manny? I pimped that one.”
Joe Maddon: Not pleased.
Just because the game has embraced a look-at-me ethos to a greater degree at any time in its history, it does not mean that there is no room for those pushing back against it. Hell, it’s better cause than ever for the traditionalists to speak up.
Maddon might be the perfect guy for the job. Being soft-spoken, widely respected and wildly successful is great, but even better is that the guy has a track record of having fun with his team. This isn’t Connie Mack we’re talking about. So when Maddon intones that these types of celebrations are beneath his sensibilities, it carries some weight.
Over recent seasons with the Rays, of course, Maddon let guys like Yunel Escobar (be it celebratory gestures or ill-timed base thefts) and Fernando Rodney do their thing. But as Craig Calcaterra correctly points out over at Hardball Talk, those guys were veterans, on veteran teams. Now Maddon has a batch of youngsters, and the lessons he imparts can go a long way.
So accept the fact that baseball has changed, and that not only are the overly showy inmates running the asylum, but that the asylum isn’t all that much worse for it. As you do so, however, appreciate the likes of Joe Maddon all the more, because the guys who let their success speak for them—no matter how diminished their numbers—seem to end up speaking the loudest.