The Chicago Cubs are on the verge of hiring Joe Maddon as manager, as first reported by CBSSports.com.
Two sources familiar with the situation confirmed the agreement to ESPN’s Jim Bowden. However, three team sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney a deal is not yet in place, though they say one is expected.
Maddon managed the Rays for nine seasons, compiling a 754-705 record. He led Tampa Bay to the playoffs four times, won two AL East titles and made one World Series appearance.
The Cubs have not made the playoffs since 2008 and have finished last or next-to-last in the NL Central in each of the past five seasons.
Just wanted to touch on this real quick. Not a done deal, but by all accounts a dotted-line will be signed after the World Series hoopla. Every year, since Jordan hung up his J’s, the Bulls/Bears/Cubs combo has been breaking my heart. When one of them is winning it’s easy to get over the putrid state of the other teams, but when none of them get there it’s flat out sucks.
I’ve always loved college hoops, and I still do, but from 2000-2008 I was obsessed with the sport, using NCAAB as a shield to protect my youthful soul from the Bulls dreadfulness. It wasn’t that the Bulls were the worst, it was that it seemed like they couldn’t get better. In 2008, Derrick Rose brought hope back to our hometown and changed all of that. Since then, even through the knee injuries and rehabilitation, it hasn’t been a question of “if” the Bulls will win again, but “when”. My optimism for the Bulls has even carried over to the Bears. That feeling is currently backfiring, but they’ll get there.
What I’m getting at here is that as bad as ’02-’08 was for diehard Bulls fans, life as a Cubs fan has been that multiplied by a million. If Bulls+Bears+Cubs = Happiness, it hasn’t mattered how good the other teams were; the Cubs are (-106). There has been zero hope since 2003, and even before Moises Alou ruined Steve Bartman’s life, that didn’t truly feel like “the year”. I wanted to be convinced back then, but I wasn’t.
The signing of Joe Maddon by Cubs upper management is another glimmer of hope. Gar and Pax brought Rose home to the Bulls, gave him a great coach in Thibs, and placed the pieces around him to ensure eventual success. That is exactly what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been doing since 2011 (and they’re better at they’re jobs). They have pushed for patience every year and stuck to their plan of finding premier hitters in the draft. This year, they began to unveil the products of that plan, and fans are finally inspired by the crop of young, on-the-cusp stars that were playing ball at Wrigley in August/September. Now, finally, (allegedly) those future stars will have a Manager. By all accounts, Rick Renteria is a good man who did a solid job working with the young prospects. But Joe Maddon is another level of leader. He is a top-3 Manager with a championship pedigree. He commands respect and will provide the city with a jolt of energy while teaching the Cubs how to win. He’s already got me excited. Sign a few quality starting pitchers and we’re rollin’. 2015 won’t be the Cubs year, but if Maddon does his job like he should, that year is not too far off.
2015, folks. The year that Chicago began it’s run as the City of Champions. Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs. Hopefully the Bears can keep up.