Joe Maddon explained his less-is-more philosophy during his first Cubby Bear press conference, promising he would never show up to the ballpark five or six hours before a 7 p.m. game.
The new Cubs manager didn’t believe in eyewash, felt batting practice was overrated and said a first-one-there, last-to-leave workaholic culture had “nothing to do with winning.”
Of course, by November 2014, the Wrigley Field construction project had experienced so many delays that the promised state-of-the-art clubhouse still felt like a fantasy.
Now the New York Yankees are the only team in The Show that has a bigger clubhouse than the 30,000-square-foot underground facility the Cubs carved out of parking lots.
Maddon sounded amused during Wednesday’s pregame briefing with reporters, which took place in a corporate conference room instead of the old storage closet/makeshift interview space that felt more like a dungeon.
[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
A media personality mentioned that first baseman Anthony Rizzo had spent part of Tuesday’s off-day working out at the new facility before spending an hour floating in a saltwater tank listening to John Mayer.
“I don’t blame him for coming in,” Maddon said before a 9-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. “I’ve heard about this little egg that simulates the mother’s womb back there. So apparently Rizz was the first guy to jump back in the womb. I guess it’s more buoyant than the Dead Sea.
“That’s what I’ve been told. I guess it is like body temperature, which makes sense. So I’ll give that a go at some point. I’ll let you know how the experience (goes). But it doesn’t surprise me that Rizz did it.”
Maddon doesn’t want his players pushed to the point where they’re mentally fried and physically exhausted. But the Cubs do believe all these gadgets (hyperbaric chamber, infrared/steam saunas) and distractions (air-hockey/ping-pong tables) will help the team’s performance and chemistry.
“There would be a time that I would kind of like dissuade anybody from wanting to do that,” Maddon said. “But what better health club to walk into than this one?”