Five times Joe Maddon exhibited the leadership that made him the NL Manager of the Year
Being a big league manager is no easy task. Sure, you have to know when to hit and run, who to bring out of the bullpen and how to build your lineup, but the job is about much more than just strategy. The best managers are also leaders of men -- skippers who can bond with everyone in the clubhouse, and get them all playing together as a team.
It's a job that requires unflappable leadership, which is why it's fitting that Cubs manager Joe Maddon took home this year's Baseball Writers' Association of America National League Manager of the Year Award. All season long, he was a manager to which all others aspire, and in celebration of his win, let's look back at some of Maddon's finest moments. (For more on the AL winner, Jeff Banister, click here.)
He knows just how to handle the media
Talking to the press is a big part of a manager's responsibilities, and no one does it better than Maddon. He always came prepared, whether that meant steeling himself for battle ...
... or just promising them all beer. Hey, a good manager needs to be able to adapt.
He lives on the cutting edge of fashion
Players want a manager they can relate to, one who's up on the latest trends. And, really, what screams "2015" more than shorts and stirrup socks?
He's willing to search far and wide for the best talent
These days, teams span the globe to give their clubs an edge. Maddon, though, was willing to go even further -- namely, to the local zoo, where he found some valuable bullpen help:
He realizes the importance of a good education
You might think that professional baseball players, having reached the pinnacle of their profession, aren't in need of a trip back to school. Maddon, however, saw Spring Training as an opportunity for his players to expand their horizons:
Enrollment in his Ground Balls 101 seminar is open now.
He fully embraces #PitchersWhoRake
It used to be that a pitcher's spot in the lineup was considered an automatic out. Especially when that pitcher is Jon Lester, who, coming into 2015, was 0-for-36 in his Major League career. So, naturally, Maddon batted him eighth on Opening Day:
And, wouldn't you know, this happened a few months later:
If that doesn't earn you a Manager of the Year Award, nothing will.