When not addressing the breathless transaction speculation and onslaught of (wonderful) rumors that come this time of year, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer took a moment to share his thoughts on manager Joe Maddon, who has had an almost unparalleled run of success at the helm of the Cubs, but has not been immune to spates of criticism.
Saying that it’s just the nature of being the manager in Chicago, Hoyer seems to understand this comes with the territory, even if it’s not always deserved (Tribune, Sun-Times). I have no doubt that Hoyer, himself, has worn some of that criticism.
Moreover, everything seems to get ratcheted up in the postseason, which happens to be the final talking point that everyone has for the four-month wait until Spring Training begins.
“When you’re in the postseason, the spotlight is shone so much on managers in general, positive and negative, from hero to goat, from success to criticism – whatever it might be – that I just think that’s the nature of the game in the postseason,” Hoyer told the Tribune and Sun-Times. “Playoff managers are going to have a lot of scrutiny, and Joe’s had a lot of scrutiny, but I think the success kind of speaks for itself when it comes to Joe.”
Here’s the thing: no manager is immune from making mistakes. And when you manage several dozen postseason games in front of an obsessive fan base, any of those mistakes – or even just perceived mistakes – are magnified, are shoved inside the echo chamber, and then are discussed to death until it seems like Joe Maddon is on the verge of being fired.
That said, Maddon has made mistakes in the last two postseasons that justifiably received criticism and analytical discussion. So long as you can discuss it thoughtfully and within the context of this guy being one of the clear best managers in the game, whose contributions to the Cubs THROUGHOUT the season are tremendous, then I’m fine with folks getting into the criticism game. I think it might sting Maddon a little bit, but he’s also said openly that he believes the debate that comes with the gig is part of what makes being a baseball fan great.
Thankfully, I don’t think the battering of Maddon will last well into January this time around (which was always especially odd last year, because the Cubs won the dang World Series). Should he have gone with Wade Davis in the 9th inning of Game Two of the NLCS? Yup. Do I still feel good about Joe Maddon as the manager of the Cubs? Yup.
Hoyer’s right: this is just part of being the manager in Chicago.