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NLCS Game 5 pregame Joe Maddon interview

October 19, 2017

Q. Do you feel you've been taken to task for being honest about scripting games when it's been going on for a hundred years where managers in their mind have it scripted but don't necessarily share that?JOE MADDON: It's possible. It doesn't really matter though, honestly. I've done it ever

Q. Do you feel you've been taken to task for being honest about scripting games when it's been going on for a hundred years where managers in their mind have it scripted but don't necessarily share that?
JOE MADDON: It's possible. It doesn't really matter though, honestly. I've done it ever since I've been doing this, and it's really the only way to do it, I think. You want to try to make decisions in advance of a hot moment.

Gene Mauch taught me early '80's, I think it was, you've got to play the game three times before it occurs, as it's occurring and then postgame also. When you have something scripted, that's not to say you can't go off script because, of course, reality and theory are two different things, so you're always willing and ready to do that.

But, I just got the lineup, so I'll sit down when we get down with this. I'll go watch BP for a little bit, and then I'll go back inside and start writing down bullpen names next to their players' names. You know what they're going to do pinch hitting-wise, if you choose to put a righty on righty if they're going to pinch-hit, et cetera. So you know that and then you do it. If it doesn't work out, here's the thing that people have to understand, you all have to understand. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't mean it was wrong. It means it didn't work. Sometimes in our game, and it's really becoming very prominent is that there is more of an attempt to vilify as opposed to glorify. In other words, when Turner hits a home run, it's because Turner is good, not because the pitcher is bad or wrong.

So I think it's been shifting in a sense that people want to blame somebody as opposed to giving somebody credit. I see a lot of that. The thing I've taught myself historically is that even if something doesn't work out, it doesn't mean it was wrong, it just means in that moment it didn't play, and I think that happens in every baseball game, every day. Managers are confronted with those decisions all the time, but we're just making our best guess in the moment based on what we know.

It's not fantasy baseball, it's not based on probability, statistical stuff. It's about your best guess against this guy. There is some data involved, absolutely. But it's the human element that I think is sometimes overlooked.

Q. For the lack of a better word, are you desperate to see your team score a run not with a home run?

JOE MADDON: Semantics are really important. The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. Mr. Twain said that. So I don't know if the right phrase is desperate. It's of course we'd like to be able to manufacture. We were doing that. That's when that run differential started getting attractive. We started moving the ball through the middle, opposite field, moving it with two strikes, et cetera. I'd love to see that. Absolutely, I would. But the reality is this is how it's been playing out. Building up rallies against their pitching staff is difficult just because they're strike throwers, they're executing their game plans, talking about the Dodgers specifically.

Under those circumstances, sometimes it's just about a guy making a mistake and you not missing it, and the ball goes in the seat. I would prefer everything. I want the ability to hit with two strikes. Situational hit, and I want the ability to hit home runs. I want it all. And sometimes it doesn't always show up.

I want to believe like after last night, I'd like to see -- I think our guys are going to come into the game pretty confidently. I'd like to believe that. And at some point we're going to break out offensively and be more familiar. But desperate's a tough word.

:: NLCS schedule and coverage ::

Q. I think you went from Ricky Bobby to Mark Twain in two days. That's a good range.

JOE MADDON: Yeah, that's the one guy I'd like to have a drink with some day, Mr. Twain.

Q. Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

JOE MADDON: So, we're not going to the same place in the afterlife?

Q. It remains to be seen what you do in Game 5 here or Game 6. Jake was in here talking yesterday, and we don't know his future. We know you want him to make several more starts with the Cubs. But if you go all the way, what has his presence meant in that rotation and in that clubhouse?

JOE MADDON: Well, I mean, he's the guy that's set the bar pretty high in 2015, winning the award. The way he did it also, his work ethic. I've talked about that. His attention to detail regarding diet, all those different things, I think he's influenced other people by just being that way. And as a pitcher, my God. He set that standard so high it's been difficult to reattain that specific level that he pitched on in 2015, but he's still been really good. Like yesterday, for instance, the first at-bat by Bellinger told you how much his pitches were moving. That was pretty significant from the side. Curveball, he found curveball yesterday, saw that against their lefties. That's significant.

But beyond all that, he's a great teammate. He's a great guy. He's so steady. He's kind of like that stoic figure that you'd like to have, kind of unflappable in most situations. So every team wants guys like that. Starting pitching, starting pitchers are very difficult to find with those kind of attributes. He's different. He rebuilt himself when he got here, obviously. He was basically the same guy physically, but I think mentally and game planning, et cetera, became better as he was a Cub.

So we'll see how it all plays out, but he and I have a great relationship, and I really do enjoy speaking with him.

Q. You play a team like this this many times in a row, how much do you learn about them, how much do you figure out about a team like that? Is there an example of that maybe in another playoff series over the years where you'll get deep in the series and say, okay, now we know how to pitch to this guy?

JOE MADDON: You know, part of it historically, even the last couple years we played the Cardinals in the playoffs, and even Pittsburgh. We play them all year. You play them 19 times. When you say that immediately, I think about in 2008 versus the Red Sox, we played them all year. Played them seven or eight times in Spring Training. Played them all year and you have to beat them in seven games in the playoffs. So you become familiar.

Sometimes, I think you're alluding to that, could be good. If you're really able to execute, like they've been able to do among their bullpen guys. If you have a bunch of real technicians, I'm saying pitching specifically, that you know what you want to do, then you can do it. It's one thing to think about what you want to do. It's another thing to actually do it. It can be to your advantage under those circumstances. The hitter's going to say, the more I see the guy, obviously, you would think there is a better opportunity there too.

I always think good, well-executed pitching is always going to have an advantage. I've always felt that way. With the Dodgers we don't see them that much, and it's still limited. We saw them early in the year. When we saw them in L.A., we were not playing well at all. It was a different moment for us entirely. We were playing better coming into this series. Nothing unexpected, honestly. Nothing unexpected from their hitters or what they may do if we do this or whatever. But what we did expect and it's happening is their pitchers are really good at executing their plan. When that occurs, you have to be able to not foul off your pitch, not take your pitch. Your pitch has to be at hard fair somewhere there, and hopefully it's going to be a positive situation.

That's what I'm seeing to this point. They've been really good at pitch execution. We've hit a couple homers. But we have to counter that at some point. Kind of like talking about it last night, we do have to -- when we see that mistake or that lead opening, we've got to take advantage of it. It's is as simple as that. And we need to gain some offensive momentum, for lack of a better way of putting it. If we're able to accomplish that tonight, and we get back to L.A., it could be a little bit different.

Q. You saw the Jim Wolf mea culpa. I'm wondering if that's good enough for you? You're a generous guy. And if so, is that sort of outcome based?

JOE MADDON: No, listen, it is good enough for me, and actually he didn't even -- it's always good when somebody admits to something like that. Listen, I make, we all make mistakes every day. That one yesterday, like I said after the game, that was pretty crucial. I'm a big Wolfy fan, Wolfy and I have known each other for a long time. I like Wolfy in big games. He's a good umpire. He's really good. He knows the game. He understands the nuance of the game. He adds that to it also as an umpire. His brother was a pitcher. He's all of that.

So, listen, when Wolfy steps up and says something like that, God, your appreciation for him increases even more, I think. For me, it does. Obviously it would have been a tough method had the next ball been out of the ballpark, and I want to believe I'd be saying the same things today. I want to believe that. So good for Wolfy. Good for Wolfy for saying something like that. It's not easy to do that. Also, when an umpire does that, that makes you think even more highly of him, and you definitely want him in those big situations.

Q. When you talked about tendency to vilify more than glorify these days, when did you start to notice that trend? How has it manifest itself, and does it creep into the clubhouse to the point it becomes something you need to address with players?

JOE MADDON: The biggest thing you try to have guys understand is that to control the controllables. It's a very difficult game. I've often talked about everyday position players. That is really hard to be good at that in baseball in a 162-game schedule. You're going to have your bad moments.

I've often thought that the best way to kind of repel that kind of a thought process is you really have to circle your own wagon, and you have to support one another, which I think we do very well. There is so much competition out there to write different things or be the first one to say something. I get it. Just like we compete, everybody else is competing.

So people compete in different manners. I just think that, like I said, many times in our game, even though something doesn't work, it doesn't mean it was wrong. It really doesn't. It just means it didn't work in the moment.

And that's the part of it sometimes when it comes to describing a situation, I think, is overlooked. I think it's more about blaming somebody for not doing well as opposed to saying somebody else did really well.

This is not a new thread for me. I've talked about it the last several years also. When you get into a situation like this, of course more people are going to listen to it. But I believe it to be true.

Q. Are you talking media or fans?

JOE MADDON: Both. It's both.