Tampa Bay Rays: The Joe Maddon Tampering Saga Officially Concludes
By Robbie Knopf
At the end of the day, Major League Baseball found no evidence to suggest that the Chicago Cubs had tampered with Joe Maddon before he opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. At one point, it seemed like there was hope–there were even suggestions that the Rays might get a top prospect from the Cubs–but for a while now, Rays fans have expected nothing. That’s exactly what they received.
The Tampa Bay Rays would be better off with a prospect or monetary compensation from the Cubs than they would be with neither, but no one can be particularly upset about the way things turned out. Though we will have to see where the Rays stand at the end of 2015, Kevin Cash has been a fine manager so far and no one has been longing for Maddon. There haven’t been any themed road trips or craziness in the clubhouse, but in regards to on-field decisions, the things Cash does differently may actually be better.
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We have to wonder what Joe Maddon would be saying if he was managing the Rays as they prepared for a three-game series as the away team at Tropicana Field. His press conference would probably make SportsCenter and get a whole bunch of views on YouTube. At the end of the day, however, Maddon’s antics were interesting and enjoyable but they didn’t always help the Rays win games. His faith in his players stretched a little too far, leading to poor performances that could have been avoided. Cash, in contrast, has shown a quick hook and a less emotional approach.
Major League Baseball had hoped to resolve the Maddon tampering situation by Opening Day. We might have reacted very differently had they actually done so by that time. Fans wouldn’t be angry–at least not the way they would have been had the news been announced two weeks after he left–but they would not have as good of an idea of what to think. Maybe I would have written a paragraph something like this:
The manager that led the Rays to prominence left without being fired before his contract was up, and they are not going to get anything in return for him. How is that fair? Hopefully the Rays will be just fine without Maddon, but we don’t know for sure and they could have used help of some kind. Instead, they got nothing. Their employment-at-will contract with Andrew Friedman and the opt-out clause in Maddon’s deal have burned them. Even if Matt Silverman and Kevin Cash are just as good as that pair, the team should have gotten something–anything–as they left.
Instead, now the thoughts on my mind are more like this: would the Tampa Bay Rays have wanted Joe Maddon at this point anyway? The Rays were negotiating with Maddon and his agent yet could not agree to terms. If Maddon didn’t have an opt-out, he would have still been under contract with the Rays this season, but he would have been dissatisfied. He would have pretended like everything was fine and said all the right things, but would they really be true? Would he really be as good of a major league manager?
There are a lot of things that we don’t know for certain, but we can say that the Rays have moved on from Joe Maddon and are happy to have Kevin Cash. Someday, Maddon will return to Tropicana Field and likely have his number retired by the team. Until then, except for when the Rays are playing the Cubs, Maddon will be a world away and the regrets and the what-if scenarios will all be irrelevant.
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