We always enjoy Tom Jones’ sports media column in the St. Pete Times. And in his latest piece, he makes a comment about how Joe Maddon is not appreciated by a “good portion” of Rays fans. In response to Mark Grace calling Maddon “one intelligent man,” Jones had this to say about the fanbase

What’s odd is how much criticism Maddon takes locally from a good portion of Rays fans. To those people, apparently winning two American League East Division titles in three years with a handicapped payroll just isn’t that impressive.

We hear this a lot from the media that covers the Rays. Jonah Keri makes this comment all the time.

But is it true?

Are the media just hearing the criticisms on the local sports talk radio shows and assuming that the vocal minority somehow represents the entire fanbase? Because, based on our numbers, the fanbase LOVES Maddon.

Every two or three weeks, we run the “Rays Confidence Poll,” in which we ask the fans how much confidence they have in the Rays, the future of the franchise, and in Maddon. And Maddon consistently receives the highest marks.

This tells us that most fans actually believe that Maddon is a better manager than the team’s record would indicate. And that is a pretty strong vote of confidence. This is just a guess, but we would bet that most fanbases believe that their team is better than its record would indicate and that it is at least in part the fault of the manager.

Hey, Maddon’s style opens himself up for criticism. He sticks with struggling players longer than most would. He never saw a platoon he didn’t like. He walks people with the bases loaded and he probably would have sat Babe Ruth against a tough lefty.

But not all of Maddon’s moves work. And if Maddon is going to try to reinvent the game, it is an invitation for people to be critical when those moves don’t work. But even among those criticize, most still approve of his work overall.

Every time we hear this criticism of the fanbase it is bit insulting. The comments are meant to portray the fans as not being able to recognize a good thing when they have it. And quite frankly, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

A lot of Rays fans love Joe Maddon. Even more respect Joe Maddon. And just about all of them wouldn’t want anybody else managing this team.

And just because we occasionally question his moves doesn’t mean that we are somehow unable to appreciate the success he has helped bring to the franchise.

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35 Comments

  1. Sublime says:

    I agree with the article, all you have to do is listen to the talking heads of 3pm-6pm Duemig and JP Peterson, when the Rays are winning they always appear to wait for the shoe to drop so they can add a big, "I told you so" to the we don't like how Maddon manages. They don't hide this, Steve Duemig admits Joe Maddon tampers with fundamental baseball principles. At times I think we (Rays Fans) act as if we've been winning for 20+ years and any idiot could manage the team, it's simply not the case.

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  2. Sarah says:

    I think the key question here is: how do we measure the views of "Rays fans"?

    Tom Jones seems to equate talk radio hosts (and some callers) and fools who have websites called "Joe Maddon Sucks" with "Rays fans." And if these loudmouths indeed speak for the broader population then Sublime is right.

    But Cork seems to be suggesting that these folks don't represent the real fan base, and that forums less prone to hysteria (like his Rays Confidence index) suggest a wider level of support for Maddon.

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  3. JMS says:

    This "fool" as Sarah calls us has watched JoeMa fsince his coaching days in Anaheim and watched him do exactly what Gene Mauch did in the 70-80's. Maddon isn't innovative he us a copycat of Mauch who also choked away 3 different chances to win twice in playoffs and once to win a division all in the name of matchups and stubbornness. Maddon claims Mauch is his idol. If you had lived through watching Mauch destroy the Angrls in 1982 & 1986 you would understand the disdain for Joe Maddon's ideas. Problem is Maddon refuses to alter his ideas when they aren't working and sticks with guys even in the playoffs when it's a no brainer they will not win that game. Loyalty needs to be to all 25 guys not a handful of chosen ones. Maddon has been good but his stubbornness to adapt continues to be his downfall just as it was for Mauch. Only difference is Mauch had complete control, Maddon is often used as a puppet by Rays ownership and FO to run their agenda. Makes one wonder if he had more freedom and didnt have scrub bullpens if he'd actually win more or still be stubborn. Mauch did matchups out of arrogance and Maddon either does the same even when it doesn't really work or he is controlled into following the Rays way of keeping guys from being everyday players in order to prevent higher paydays. It's amazing how the Rays continue to have excuses every trade deadline, fake injuries, no offense, yet there is always an excuse for it. Friedman having an appendectomy at the trade deadline is so poetic as to how the Rays always have a reason not to address issues. No slight toward Friedman on the seriousness of an appendectomy, it is just poetic how the timing of it happened. It is the Rays way and Maddon is a big cog in it for better or for worse. Just can't see them winning a WS with him at the helm with a cheap FO and owner and Maddon having to be their shill, instead of just being a manager.

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    • Sarah says:

      JMS, I call you a fool because you choose a name that is insulting and is aimed at quashing, rather than encouraging intelligent discussion. You may have brilliant baseball insights for all I know, but I'll never appreciate them as long as you are marketing yourself in a way that seems aimed at the sensibilities of my 10 year old son.

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      • JMS says:

        Your comments towards me are exactly what you accuse me of, yet you think that is ok for you to do it. I guess that's why we agree to disagree

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        • Sarah says:

          But then please explain to me, sir, why you would choose such an offensive name for your website if you were really interested in intelligent debate? Seriously, I'd like to understand what makes you think this is a good way to express yourself.

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          • JMS says:

            For the same reason you call me a fool, it is my opinion. Your choice to express yourself, just as it is my choice to express myself after watching Maddon for over 30 years.

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          • RTL says:

            I agree with you Sarah. If you had phrased it differently, he still wouldn't have an answer for you. He can't because he's painted himself into a rhetorical corner. If Maddon is the manager of a World Series winner, they'll have won in spite of him (Ex. Duemig and Trent Dilfer).

            You don't have to like Maddon, or anyone for that matter, but to suggest that Maddon "sucks" is an opinion of a...well, I won't say it. How about "Joe Maddon is overated"? That allows for some sort of middle ground as he's obviously done some good for the organization.

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  4. Don says:

    JMS you hit on a couple of things which are beyond the grasp of the ordinary baseball fan and the local media...I could start on Maddon and therer wouldn't be enough copy space on this whole site
    #1 is MAddons' Stubborness, whether its from Mauch or self imposed by his being a peon in the baseball Management world , loyality to the down trodden, the guys that are not usefull still have a roll on the team, also he is very indecisive (lineup card proof) HE is not view as a "leader" by his own players but as a buddy, holding NO one responsible for performance.
    These traits are hard to distinguish and if you mentioned any of them to the local media they wouldn't know that you were talking about ole JOE.But he is a pawn for mgt. and he works cheap so he is secure with these owners...many good managers wouldn't stand for his treatment.

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  5. Michael says:

    I have no idea where the guy is getting a "a good portion" from. He seems to be almost unanimously liked if not at least respected.

    It's just easier to write about negative stories, or to create tension where there is none.

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  6. JMS says:

    One more note here, Sarah, I have no issues with anybody having their opinion, I have mine and wouldn't ask anybody else to not have their opinion. I am and have been a Rays season ticket holder for several years, attend 75 games plus a year, and travel to watch other road games. I love this team since they came to the Bay Area, and want nothing but the best for them, regardless of who is managing. I don't root against Joe Maddon, I just disagree with several of his ideas, and granted winning 2 AL East divisions is huge, but this team could have gotten further if their wasn't this air of arrogance and everything will be ok, when sometimes you have to shackle up, show some accountability and use your best 9 to win a game, regardless of emotions, and personal feelings. It is after all supposed to be about winning, not a process that makes you very good for several years, but you never win. The goal should always be to win, and I'm all for a process that makes them compete every year, but they can't lose light of the fact, they have to go for it all when the time is right. 2008, 2010 they blew their shot with front office and managerial mistakes, and failure to capitalize on helping themselves with adding a bat. 2011, they clearly look resigned to losing to cheapen payroll, and didn't want to win this year, they want a stadium driven agenda. That's sad, and it should have been about winning, even with the small payroll, they could have demoted players earlier, could have made efforts to improve offensive game plans when they clearly don't work well for 2 years, but they choose to ignore this. It leaves a bad taste, as if they are clearly money driven, and hide behind the "process" as their excuse to not go forward and try to win it all. Not everything is status quo, sometimes you have to alter the plan to win it all. Maddon has done a great job in alot of areas, but until he decides to let go of the stubborness and make necessary adjustments and hold people accountable, or until he is allowed to let go of that stubborness and make adjustments, and hold people accountable, I just can't see the team ever winning the actual big prize. Sometimes they just have to admit their ideas aren't working for the big prize and make the adjustments, instead of being smug and pretending it's all peachy, and then failing in the end. Ownership, FO, Manager, and on down simply refuse to acknowledge any mistakes they make, and having Stu threaten fans monthly really just adds to the fire. I couldn't care less about where they play, I will go to any location they have the stadium and watch baseball, because that's what fans of the game do. The whole thing of pitting fans against each other, and Maddon is now involved in that, is just killing the future of this franchise in the Bay Area, and that is something that clearly doesn't have to happen.

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    • Steve says:

      The problem I see with your 2 page opinion on JoeMa is you are very critical and say that Maddon and the front office has blew their chance at winning and ignore changes that need to be made, yet you don't say what these things are. I agree that they might have won the Series if they pull the trigger on Bay or another bat, and they definitely needed a bat last year. But to say that Joe ignores a better way to win a game is reaching. Baseball has a 162 game season and I for one am glad that the Rays have a GM and manager that don't have knee jerk reactions. I think they tried to claim Cody Ross last year but the Giants had first dibs. Who should they have gotten? Sometimes there just isn't a move that makes sense. When you don't have the ability to spend upwards of 100 million a year on players then you can't trade your best prospects away every time you are close in the standings. Hittin on young guys is the only way the Rays will put a competitive team on the field every year. Bottom line is before Freidman and Maddon baseball in this area was a joke and now other teams respect us, no matter what you say.

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      • JMS says:

        Steve, I wrote a blog for 3 years on Maddon, and I'm not going to try to come on Cork's blog and re-write all of my opinions in a small comment box. I understand you don't like the title, and don't want to read it, but it's all in there and has been for a long time my opinions as well statistics and why I don't agree with all of his reasoning. As far as Stu, well prof is in the pudding. Payroll or not, he may have made baseball better, but he isn't likely to finish the job with his constant berating of the fan base. Even if he gets a new stadium on the other side of the Bay, it is still the same fanbase he is bashing, and the damage will be done. It will be harder to repair that with the constant pitting of Tampa vs St Pete, instead of trying to gain the whole area as a fanbase. I wouldn't want the Rays to trade away young talent for a 1 year player either, but whats the purpose of stocking so many players, if you are going to sit on them until they are 25, and never use any of them as a trade chip to get over the top and win the big one once in awhile. A bat in 2008 or 2010 would have gave the Rays a terrific chance of being champs, and that simply doesn't come every year. It could have been done without giving away the farm, just as they continue to stockpile draft picks year after year, some of these drafted players could b used to add a veteran once in awhile when you are that close to winning. Otherwise, why bother playing the games, if you always are ok with finishing behind someone else. So close, yet so far away. No one should expect ot have large payrolls here ever, but you can add a rental player once in awhile when the time is right, and 2008/2010 have become missed opportunities because of standing pat, instead of trying to win it all.

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    • Indiana Ray Boy says:

      Every team that has fans criticizing the manager; it is not just the Tampa area. Look at Chicago, White Sox fans want Ozzie Guillen to go and he took them to the World Series and won it all in 2005. Last year, Cub fans did the same with Lou Piniella for not winning. Just because everything the manager says and his philosophies, we should not take it as gospel. Fans have to look at it both ways the pros and cons. Maddons best year was 2008 because he puts his best nine that gives the team the best chance to win and since then it seems like you give him more talent, that is when he gets out of hand.

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  7. LoLJFH says:

    Let's be honest, not everyone is gonna like the manager of "their" team. I grew up in Atlanta and could not STAND Bobby Cox for many reasons. There are people that hated Lou Piniella, Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter, even Dick Williams, Chuck Tanner, Joe Torre and Tommy Lasorda! Why should Joe be any different? Personally I love the guy and yet scratch my head at things he does and his loyalty to some guys, but he is a helluva lot better than we have had and his results speak volumes the past few years. When he has the ability to manage with legitimate MLB talent, something he lacks this year, he shows his innovation and craftiness and baseball acumen better than anyone. He may not make the popular decision but he uses his analysis and puts his players in the best position to win. Although I also realize many fans debunk him because he does "think outside the box" and breaks age old baseball rules and morees. Blasphemy I tell ya! Baseball is old and boring, he makes it fresh and exciting to some degree without being a LaRussa or Leyland. Deal with it.

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    • JMS says:

      This is the truth, every city has those that dislike their manager, even when they are successful. I don't care what system they use, as long as they make changes to it, when it isn't working, and that is the biggest beef for me on this matter. Maddon would be more appreciated if he didn't try to be the smartest guy in the room all the time, and just admitted when things aren't working, that a change is needed. He has changed alot the last couple of seasons, and this year he did alot of things differently that he wouldn't have done in the past, almost against what the front office wanted. That's why I continue to wonder if he is controlled by the FO, or is actually in agreement. His non usage of Sonnasntine, and going to Farnsworth for 4 and 5 out game finishes, is totally out of the norm for Maddon, yet it showed he wanted to win desperately, and was enjoyable to see him making adjustments as needed, where in the past he stuck to the script of using everybody and going with a closer for just 3 outs. It showed the effort, thats why the JMS blog ceased writing anything for now, as clearly this particular year is more on the Ownership and FO. Sending Sonnanstine, Russell, Ramos down after it's too late to catch the Sox/Yanks isn't Maddon's fault, that's on the FO for forcing him to use them, yet even Maddon resisted using Sonny & Russell for the most part in high leverage situations this year after the first month. There honestly isn't anybody better suited to manage the Rays, but unless JoeMa is willing to make the adjustments and hold players accountable, and be their manager instead of their buddy, it seems the inevitable will continue to happen. Instead of trying to act like the smartest guy in the room, I wish he would just be the smartest guy in the room and do whatever it takes to win, and stop coddling players, coaches and attitudes, and make the adjustments when necessary. This year in particular is probably his best managing job yet, he is clearly hampered by the FO. The hitting isn't just bad because of players, the actual strategy has failed for 2 years under Shelton, regardless of who hired him, or if it's his fault, it's time to make a change in strategy or coaching. Taking strikes and failing to hit simply isn't working, even when they had other players on this team. The majority of the players the past 2 years have stepped backwards under this system on offense, that isn't a false comment, you can pull all their numbers from 2009, then use it against 2010/2011, and it will amaze you how much worse their individual numbers are for starter and bench players. That's not a coincidence, that is proof that adjustments need to be made, regardless of who makes them

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      • LoLJFH says:

        Excellent response and I agree with almost everything you have said (which I am sure is a HUGE relief to you)! Please, do NOT get me started on Shelton. I wanted him gone midway through LAST year and almost swallowed my tongue this offseason when he was retained. A friend of mine is a hitting coach and he told me early this year if anything was going to happen to DS it would be around game 100 so it gave a decent sized "sample" for the year. Well, here we are. I swear I cringe every day I see him on TV or read his name in the paper. Personally I think he stays through the end of the year at this point because it wouldn't be "prudent" (I am sure you like that JoeMa term) to do so otherwise in FO's eyes. I have enjoyed Maddon's comments the past few weeks that have been arrows directly at DS about approach, lack of hitting, execution, "having a plan", etc..... It gives me hope. And to think: look what he did to the Cleveland roster that they are just now getting over! I just wish someone, somewhere in the organization would throw out a deserving sacrificial lamb as a statement to the roster.

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        • Sarah says:

          Who is responsible for hiring and firing the coaches - is it Maddon or Friedman?

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          • LoLJFH says:

            Typically it is the GM and the manager together for MLB teams (minors is usually Player Procurement Rep, Asst GM and to a lesser extent the Manager). There are endless scenarios according to my friend as there could be 100's of applications for a job whether open or not. You almost have a pick of the litter. So depending on your POV, they are BOTH at fault on this hire. :) But I think he only has a 2-year contract.

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        • Indiana Ray Boy says:

          his contract runs this year and 2012

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  8. Joe says:

    Right on JMS!!! Right on! It's more about the process, even if I may say it's how you play the game rather than if you win or lose. I get it to a point, but its more about process than the results.

    And if the Stuster ever wants to come out of White Plains and elaborate and explain his mission and vision, then let me know. Let's not treat the fans like minor league bushwhackers. We are a great market and don't try to fool the fans. If your eyes are off of us Stu, then speak up and say so. Don't let your Minister of Information Monster Marc Topkin spew your crud every chance you can get.

    I can't argue with the results, only that they failed to strike the iron when it is hot. Maddon is the PERFECT, IDEAL foil for the crap that Stu Sternberg and Matt Silverman SPEW. I don't have the conscience to say or do half of the stuff Stu and Matt do to Tampa Bay fans, oh that's right, Topkin does it for them!

    Maddon knows the game, but the devil I suppose is in the details. But let's not kid ourselves, he is the perfect foil for Stumania!

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  9. Ken Heller says:

    Both sides of the thumbs up/down on Maddon have merit. I'm not a Maddon fan, a Friedman fan or an owners fan, I'm a Rays fan. I attend 25+ games a year and watch the rest on the tube. I'm used to the schizo journey their players take us on year end and year out. The past 4 years have been both joyous and frustrating, especially this year.
    Some of the personnel moves made this year are just not explainable. Jennings not up until July, why? Brignac, Shopppach, Rodriguez, Fuld, E. Johnson getting some many at bats, why? Sonny and J.P. constantly used, why?, a six man rotation half way through the season, why?.
    If the owners truly felt this was a rebuilding year why not test the farm system? If they felt we could win it why not orchestrate a trade or two? This year we're just sitting in limbo waiting for...what?, the mythical new stadium?, Longo to stop partying, BJ to change his hitting approach, Price to rediscover his slider, I could go on and on...
    I'm tired of the negative spin ESPN, other national and local media outlets and our owners spew forth with regularity.
    It comes down to this, "If the horse won't pull you got to carry the load." That includes the owners, Maddon, the players and the fans.

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    • Zack says:

      I'm being serious about this, that is literally the most truthful statement I've ever read. WIN

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      • Ken Heller says:

        Right. Baseball is a sport. In sports there are ultimately only two results: You win or you lose, rare exceptions noted.
        I want the Rays to win, win it all. The stakes are enormous in many ways yet in many ways it's the same stakes as a Central Park dominoes game.
        We need that strange fire.

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  10. Gus says:

    I'd like to read Maddon's book whenever he writes it to know whose decision (him or upper management) it was to keep rolling Camp, Percival, Shoppach, etc. out there over the years. Did he really think it was a good idea to start Shields in the ALDS in 2010?

    He has a curious loyalty streak, sometimes falls in love with his own press clippings and is protoypical baby boomer idealist, but basically he is the perfect manager for this organization. With the exception of Upton and Brignac and guys getting off the PEDs, guys generally perform better in Tampa Bay than they did before they got here or after they leave (or were expected to produce given their minor league pedigree). Maddon deserves lots of credit for that. He maxes guys out. That is what I want out of my manager.

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  11. Rg says:

    Hey Cork; what constitutes closing off the reply button?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      It is just an automatic feature based on the width of the page. there are are only so many replies before it becomes to skinny to read easily. In those cases just go back to the last comment that still has a reply and reply to that one.

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  12. zenny says:

    Not many managers could do what Maddon has done: win with good but limited and young talent in the AL East to the tune of 2 AL East championships and an AL pennant in the past 3 years.

    Some people seem to be annoyed by Maddon's willingness to try new things, and possibly by his personal quirkiness as well. Whatever. It's a results-oriented business, and Joe had gotten excellent results with limited resources. That's all that matters.

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  13. John says:

    As an in-game manager, Joe is below average. Fortunately for him, that's about 8 percent of the job (in the AL anyway). And in the other 92% of the job, Joe is excellent. So why does he take so much grief from the talking heads? Because the stuff he does well is the hardest part of the job, and stuff he does not-so-well is the easiest part of the job. It's infuriating.

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    • JMS says:

      Agree Completely. He does the crazy stuff against the grain that works, which is great, but all the obvious stuff that he does backwards is what drives you crazy. Be the smartest guy in the room, and make the obvious choices, and then the rest is a crapshoot anyways. It's the part where he won't make the obviously easy choices that really make it hard to swallow.

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      • Indiana Ray Boy says:

        JMS, I love when you break things down on Maddon; whether people agree or disagree with you. One point I have to disagree on JMS, is front office lowers the position players market value by giving Maddon orders to not having them as everyday players and use sabermatrics to prove. If that is the case, shame on them and with that attitude, they shouldn't be running a baseball team. Every other team shuffles lineups when the offense is struggling not when they are on a hot streak. Girardi is now getting blasted from Yankee fans for using sabermatrics and matchups. John, you are 110 percent correct on Maddon based on in-game managing; he is average to mediocre at best. Some of Rays fan and media labeling him as one of the best managers in the game because he took his team to the World Series. If that is the case, Ron Washington and Clint Hurdle should be one of best managers in the game as well because they both have taken their respected teams to the World Series. Since 2008, Maddon's his tactics has gotten worse with the ridiculous lineup changes, gimmicks and matchups. Shelton hiring is a Maddon guy and they share the same philosophy and if they get rid of Shelton, the offense will still be stagnant regardless. Here is an analogy: firing the hitting coach under Maddon's tenure is like firing offensive coordinators under the Dungy regime. Both of them made their teams from cellars into contenders and Dungy couldn't take them to the next step and Maddon can't put them over the top.

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  14. Jim says:

    let's be honest, how much true managing does maddon do and so how much credit does he deserve.

    a typical manager makes decisions based on instinct and his gut. joe reads a printout from the boys upstairs and plays the numbers. does it work?

    batting - in the past two years, we've had the worst batting averages in our team history. are you honestly going to tell me we have less talent than some of the horrible teams of the past? how's that matchup stuff working out?

    pitching - the past few years under maddon, our starting pitching has been pretty impressive and no matter what type of manager you have, thats going to put you near the top of the division. our pen was lights out last year and i'm sure the maddon faithful will tell you they were successful due to being inserted into the right spots. the fact is our pen has had a lot of talent in the past few years and you can see that deficiency this year. also a factor that's thrown around lately on the other side of the ball, is the trop. it's a pitchers park.

    in short, given 3 good starting pitchers, a hell of a defense, and a bullpen that is average, with a dependable closer, then i could send my 12 year old out there with joe's stat cards and win 85 games with tropicana field as my homefield

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