It was just five days ago. Can you believe that? It was on October 24th that Joe Maddon opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. I went to MLB Trade Rumors and I looked it up, but I thought I was seeing things. It felt like weeks ago.
When it happened, Rays fans were furious, heartbroken, and downright confused. Andrew Friedman leaving was bad enough, but losing Maddon took the desperation over the edge. What was it about the Rays that drove Friedman and Maddon away? Was the end of this franchise’s run of success already in motion with this year’s disastrous results? However, a lot has changed sine then. I can’t speak for anyone else, but any pain I felt is gone and all I feel is optimism.
When I heard that Joe Maddon had signed with the Chicago Cubs, the first thing I felt was happiness for him. He opted out and found the perfect fit for his managerial talents. For the Rays, meanwhile, losing Maddon hurts, but is far from a death sentence. Sometimes losing something–or someone–makes you appreciate what you still have. This team still features plenty of reasons to be excited.
It would have seemed crazy five days ago, but we can wish the best of luck to Joe Maddon and the Cubs in 2015 without a hint of sarcasm. The Rays owe Maddon a great deal, and while they see whether he can lead the Cubs to their first World Series title since 1908, they will look to continue the winning culture that he created in Tampa Bay.