NLCS Game 1: Joe Maddon postgame interview

October 15th, 2017

Q. What did you see on the play at home plate, and what was your argument there?

JOE MADDON: I saw a great baseball play. I saw Schwarber come in on a grounded ball, use his feet perfectly, make a low, great throw to the plate that could have been cut off, had we needed it to be, but did not because we chose to have it go to home plate. Perfect skip-hop, great play by Contreras. The ball kind of taking Willson towards the line, towards foul territory. He catches the ball, and his technique was absolutely 100% perfect. I could not disagree more with the interpretation of that. However, I will defend the umpires. The umpires did everything according to what they've been told, but I, from day one, have totally disagreed with the content of that rule. I think it's wrong. I think there's anybody that's played Major League or even Minor League Baseball will agree with me 100% on that. That was a beautifully done Major League play all the way around. That gets interpreted kind of like tantamount to the soda tax in Chicago, for me.

:: NLCS schedule and coverage ::

Q. Your objection was to the call tonight or to the rule even though it was called correctly?

JOE MADDON: See, I don't think the rule was called correctly either. From what I saw, the ball took Willson toward that line. I disagree with that. So I disagree with it on both counts, your Honor.

Q. Q struggled in the fifth, but why did you remove him at point he did?

JOE MADDON: I thought he had it. Emotionally he was pretty much drained at that point. The couple walks were indicators of that, right around 90 pitches after five, that's a pretty heavy load. Based on what he's been coming off of the last couple days, I thought it was the right time to get him out. And that's what we brought Hector in for. That was a perfect situation for Rondon. Then on top of that, we had already scripted that was a perfect spot for Montgomery, and either situation worked out.

Q. For those of us not from Chicago, what is the soda tax?

JOE MADDON: The soda tax, where are the Chicagoans here? Suddenly we're taxing soda back there all of a sudden. My point is all rules that are created or laws aren't necessarily good ones. That's my point.

Q. Where's baseball headed with these over-administrative rules taking the game?

JOE MADDON: I'll give you another sample, the slide by that was questioned in Washington to me -- even the fact that that slide could be questioned bothers me. Listen, I'm speaking on behalf of all the guys that have played this game. I'm speaking on behalf of all the umpires. It puts them in an impossible situation. Neither play was egregious in regards to trying to hurt anybody, either Jon Jay's slide or the play at the plate right there. There was nothing he egregiously harmful about either play. I think there's room, if you want to interpret the situation whereas somebody's intentionally trying to hurt somebody, I think that's obvious. But those are just good baseball plays without any injury intent whatsoever. That's where I get concerned. I know I'm going to get in a lot of trouble for saying all this. But like I said, I know a lot of dudes that have played this game. I was not fortunate enough to play on the Major League level, but I was a catcher involved in a lot of collisions, and that was a well-executed play that we got penalized for. Like I said, sometimes laws and rules are made that aren't necessarily good ones, and in my opinion, those are both bad.

Q. The game, the outcome may or may not have been impacted by that call?

JOE MADDON: Correct. I'm not arguing that. And again, I'm not arguing against the umpires. I thought the umpires did a great job. I thought the game was well-officiated. I thought whoever had to make that decision, you put them in a bad decision in a replay booth in New York City.

Q. My question is do you have any fear at all that -- we don't see this call very often for whatever reason.

JOE MADDON: Haven't seen it all year, by the way.

Q. Catchers are doing what they've been instructed to do, whatever. Do you have any fear at all that this impacts anything going forward now; that this is fresh in people's minds and now catchers are thinking about it again? Could this have another impact on this series?

JOE MADDON: There's always the unintended consequences. Absolutely. There's part of that. Again, when a catcher -- a lot of times the play is not called when there's a ground ball to the infielder. It's more open to interpretation when the throw comes from the outfield, apparently. Again, what I saw right there, the ball was leading into towards the line. If you're concerned about Willson sticking his leg out, what else is he supposed to do right there? You have to keep your balance. You have to hold yourself in place. And, furthermore, you should block the plate once you've caught the ball, which he did. Again, I have to stick up for my boys. I've got to stick up for everybody that plays this game. I thought it was inappropriate. I don't want guys trying to hurt anybody deliberately or intentionally either. I agree with that 100%. But there was no malintent with that play nor the play in Washington with Jon Jay sliding into second base. We totally embraced the bag with both hands and that thing was open for interpretation.

Q. It looked like you were saying, What is he supposed to do?

JOE MADDON: Would you answer that for me, please?

Q. That's what I was going to say. What kind of an answer?

JOE MADDON: There's nothing. He did everything right. There is nothing else he could have done. Nothing. Nothing he could have done differently.

Q. What were you told, then?

JOE MADDON: That I think their interpretation was the leg being stuck out, which they didn't like. But like I said, just imagine yourself in the position that Willson was in physically and you're sliding towards your left, and your leg and your feet are kind of close together. At some point that left leg's got to kick out for you not to fall over. And the other point is to not hurt yourself. I mean, you could talk about not hurting the runner there or intentionally hurting the runner or the catcher, but there is also the possibility of hurting the runner. The runner there puts himself in an awkward position also by having to avoid -- there is all kinds of awkwardness about that. Play the game. Just play the game, and there was no -- no -- it was just a perfect play that we got penalized on.

Q. Pardon me for the subject change. A year ago you won Game 5 here, clinched the series in Chicago. How are these two teams different from those two teams a year ago?

JOE MADDON: It's pretty similar, I think. I don't see a whole lot of difference, actually. Their bullpen's still really good. They're missing Seager right now, which is really pertinent for them. From our perspective, I think last year we started out slowly offensively and then we caught on a little bit afterwards. Right now, I think the biggest difference is we have to get our bullpen in order. That's probably the biggest difference between both seasons. That we have to be able to hold small deficits or small leads in the middle and then hopefully get to Wade in a positive situation. I think standing out right now, their bullpen is pretty firm, and we have to really get our feet back on the ground.

Q. If you agreed with the umpires, you got thrown out. Did you want to get thrown out?

JOE MADDON: To make a point. You've got to make a point at some point, man. It's like, listen, I'm not going to just sit there and take that when I disagree with it 100%. And I let Mike Winters know that. I let Mike know what my intent was. Listen, I could easily not say anything, absolutely. And I could easily just acquiesce. But if I'm doing that, I'm going against what I believe in, and I'm not going to do that.

Q. But what did you say to get thrown out?

JOE MADDON: You can't discuss that at all. That -- I know that. Once the call is made from video replay, there is nothing I can say. Actually, I might be able to say, well, what did they say to you? But I was not interested in that.

Q. Can you talk about the play with Almora Jr., made you look like a genius today putting him in the lineup?

JOE MADDON: Albert hits lefties. He really does a nice job of that. He's been swinging the bat really well. Bully for him. If you look at his numbers during the course of the season, he's pretty much been that guy. Though he's gotten better against righties recently. He's playing at a high level. He's slowed the game down. That's the part that you really could -- Albert moving forward is going to be a really good everyday Major League Baseball player.