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.