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Cubbies On My Mind: A-Rod’s Comments and the Maddon Effect

In this edition of "Cubbies On My Mind," Christopher O'Neil discusses A-Rod's inflammatory comments and the wizard in the Cubs' clubhouse, Joe Maddon. Check it out here.

Notoriously Disliked Teammate Gives Opinion on Cubs’ Clubhouse

During Sunday night’s ESPN telecast of the Cubs-Cardinals game, Alex Rodriguez made the decision to attack Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish.

During the unprovoked attack, Rodriguez claimed Darvish was “losing respect in the Cubs clubhouse,” and accused the 31-year-old of being a distraction to the team questioning whether he was truly committed to playing baseball.

Rodriguez continued the assault on the Cubs, saying that “it’s not good inside that clubhouse.”

Rodriguez didn’t name any sources, and failed to provide any proof of any of his claims. But that didn’t stop the former steroid-user from using his platform to trash the Cubs organization.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon and Darvish’s agent Joel Wolfe fired back at Rodriguez in the days following the rant, denying any validity to his claims and questioning the professionalism of Rodriguez.

Wolfe even returned fire, telling “The Athletic” this. “During A-Rod’s absurd comments, the video shows that Darvish was right there on the top step in the dugout cheering on his teammates, which is what you want from somebody like that. He wasn’t hiding out in Mesa at the spring-training complex or back home like A-Rod was when he was suspended.”

Given Rodriguez’s past, it seemed a bit hypocritical for him to be speaking on the Cubs clubhouse and Darvish as a teammate. Add in that there has been no reason to question that the Cubs have grown frustrated with any of their players and the claims become even more questionable.

If Rodriguez doesn’t show some proof behind his claims, or change the way he acts in the booth, ESPN could be forced to look for a replacement for Rodriguez, as it doesn’t take much for a member of the media to lose credibility. Teams may begin to avoid giving Rodriguez access to their players and clubhouses as well.

You Either Hate or Love Joe Maddon, There is No In-between

We are now in the fourth season of Joe Maddon’s reign as Cubs manager. The former Tampa Bay Rays skipper is a polarizing figure in Chicago sports, and most people have strong opinions of him.

For example, within the past week, the “Chicago Sun-Times'” Rick Morrissey published an article trashing Maddon and claiming the “show” he puts on is for his brand and not for the betterment of the team.

Meanwhile, the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles published an article saying Maddon has a good case for winning the Manager of the Year award.

Maddon isn’t a typical manager. He’s brought magicians and live animals into the clubhouse. He’s had the players dress up in pajamas, dresses and who knows what else during cross-country flights. Pitchers have played in the outfield and position players have pitched.

In a recent poll of major league players by “The Athletic,” Maddon was voted the manager the most players would want to play for. He also ended up in the top five of the manager players would LEAST want to play for.

You’d be hard pressed to find a player who has actually played under Maddon who hasn’t enjoyed his time. The 64-year-old is known as a guy who knows how to stroke egos, keep his players loose and happy and manage playing time to ensure players are rested for the stretch run.

Some people say Maddon tries to be “too creative” with his in-game management. It cannot be argued that he makes some decisions that could be questionable, but every manager does that occasionally. No manager is going to make the right choice every time, and the times when it doesn’t work out are going to be the ones that stick out in people’s memories.

However you feel about Maddon, you can’t argue with the success he has had over the course of his career. He took a Rays team that hasn’t experienced a successful season without him at the helm to the World Series, and has been to at least the NLCS in each of his three seasons in Chicago.

Stats of the Week

20/22 months with a ≥.500 record since beginning of 2015 – (Best in MLB) – Since Maddon became manager, the Cubs have been the most consistently winning team by month in the majors. The two months that were not at least .500 were two and four games under .500.

354 regular season wins since beginning of 2015 – (Best in MLB) – The success the team has had with this core is widely known. I just wanted to reinforce this for any readers to reference when they are having fleeting doubts about the Cubs.

Follow Christopher O’Neil on Twitter-Feature Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

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