Cubs' Joe Maddon: The world revolves around confidence


Cubs' Joe Maddon: The world revolves around confidence

Joe Maddon loves talking about the psychology of the game.

He can get going about the baseball on the field, too, of course. But he is clearly interested by the mental aspect of the game. He loves the intricacies of the human mind and what makes each individual tick.

"There's all these little mind games going on all the time," Maddon said. "The world revolves around confidence, man."

That's exactly why the Cubs jumped at the chance to bring Maddon in during the offseason, even with a manager (Rick Renteria) already in place. Maddon is a student of the game, but he's also a teacher, a fan, a coach. A mentor of the mind, if you will.

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Maddon spent a big portion of Saturday's pregame media session talking about confidence and how he breeds it in his players, especially young Cubs that don't have much experience at the big league level, like pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Zac Rosscup.

Hendricks started Friday's game and looked to be cruising before a couple hits just out of the reach of Cubs defenders set up a two-out, three-run double by Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Maddon said he intended on letting Hendricks find his way out of the mess, and the hope was the second-year starter would be able to go seven innings. It was a vote of confidence from the Cubs manager to the 25-year-old right-hander making his 20th career MLB start.

"More than just the physical components, it's a mental thing," Maddon said. "And that's why we're so into it. It really matters.

"Young players, Wrigley Field, Friday afternoon, we've been playing well and now (the Pirates) are coming back, they have momentum, you don't and you have to stop it. There's a lot of stuff going on, man. It totally exceeds (mechanical stuff).

"When you're able to control yourself — which we all attempt to do in stressful moments — that's when things get real good."

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As for Rosscup, he's only 26 and was pitching in just his 43rd career game at this level. Yet Maddon went with Rosscup with the game in the balance in the sixth inning to face former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen with the bases loaded and two outs.

Rosscup responded by getting McCutchen to fly out to right field.

"You're always looking to build confidence," Maddon said. "I'd say primarily, as a relief pitcher, you've gotta have a really short memory. You gotta be almost, like, senile."

Maddon admitted it's important for him to keep the right mentality even though he's not playing or directly impacting the action on the field.

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He said he has the saying "do not be a fan" written on the top of his daily lineup card/stat sheet, as a reminder to keep things even-keeled and reduce the stress of the moment/situation.

"I try to control my breathing, also," Maddon said. "The pertinent part is to not get locked in the emotion of the moment. Don't become a fan. Just continue to be manager.

"When bad things are happening, you have to fight that tendency to become emotional and just play along. You can't permit that to happen.

"I cannot become a fan. I think it becomes stressful when you become a fan. If you remain a manager, it's not as stressful."

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Why can't a trade be looked at as a win-win? 

There doesn't always have to be a clear winner and loser.

Prior to Jose Quintana taking the ball for Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, Joe Maddon was asked about the players (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease) the Cubs gave up to acquire Quintana as well as the deal with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman in July 2016.

Gleyber Torres is absolutely killing it in New York, hitting .323 with a 1.014 OPS, 9 homers and 24 RBI in only 29 games. Six of those homers have come in the last week alone. 

With the White Sox, both Jimenez and Cease have found success in Double-A and Advanced Class-A, respectively.

Jimenez is hitting .331 with a .992 OPS, 9 homers and 35 RBI in 35 games. Cease is 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

As the Cubs work to get their offense settled into a consistent groove, some Cubs fans have been looking at what might've been with guys like Torres and Jimenez.

"You can't have it both ways, man," Maddon said. "I'm happy for Gleyber. When he left, we talked about it. And we talked about the kids that went to the White Sox. It's good stuff. 

"I'm really disappointed if anybody's disappointed in the fact we won the World Series in 2016 and the fact that the guy we're talking about that we had to give up Gleyber for was so instrumental in that happening. That's bad process if you're gonna get stuck on something like that. Be happy for Gleyber. Be happy for him."

Maddon has been a fan of Torres' since he saw him in spring training in 2015, Maddon's first year in the Cubs organization.

"This kid's 21, with high, high baseball intellect," Maddon said. "He's very similar to Javy on the field. I've had some great conversations with him in the past. 

"The first time I saw him in spring training, I thought this guy's for real. It was like one at-bat, line drive to RF, I said who is this guy? And then you have a conversation with him. He's solid."

Maddon's point is a great one — would Cubs fans prefer to still have Torres and NOT have the 2016 World Series championship? Because that title doesn't happen without Chapman, regardless of how you feel about him as a person or what the Cubs had to give up to acquire him.

"Don't play that game," Maddon said. "Be happy for [Torres]. I'm gonna be happy when Eloy and Dylan make it up here. All these dudes, I want them to get here and be really good. And the guys that we get, I want them to be really good. 

"I don't understand why somebody's gotta lose all the time. This is an absolute classic example of what was good for both teams."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998


Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.