The day after his AC/DC comments went viral and made national headlines, Joe Maddon flip-flopped his position on the Cubs hosting concerts at Wrigley Field.
Whether or not someone upstairs told the manager to change his tune – or a master manipulator of the media didn’t realize how much his words would echo on Twitter and across the Internet – Maddon backtracked during Tuesday’s pregame media session and gave a pro-concert message for the cameras.
“That’s good stuff,” Maddon said. “I have no problem with any of that. Zero. Zilch. Nada. That was an attempt at weak humor yesterday, so I was guilty of that, and I can be very weak at times. Regarding the bad hop, I have no problem with the concert whatsoever. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.”
Sitting in the same interview room/dungeon after Monday night’s 9-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers, Maddon took an innocuous question about Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro finally being able to play winning baseball in September and seemingly used it to make a larger point about the franchise’s business/baseball priorities.
Maddon blamed Castro’s fielding error on last week’s AC/DC concert, which “totally messed up our infield.” The explanation roughly 18 hours later sounded like a bit from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” one of Maddon’s favorite TV shows.
“I was very flippant,” Maddon said. “‘Very flippant’ – is that redundant? Could you be ‘very flippant?’ Or are you just ‘flippant?’ I think I was just ‘flippant.’ Or I was just ‘very.’ One of the two.”
Do you like AC/DC?
“I do, but I’m not as current or hip to their stuff,” Maddon said. “My group is like the 60s and the 70s groups.”
Maddon enjoys talking to reporters and wants to protect Castro, who has thrived as a part-time second baseman after losing his status as a franchise shortstop.
Maddon has also complained about the inconsistent start times for weekend games at Wrigley Field, another complicated issue for Crane Kenney’s business-operations department.
Every business in the neighborhood should be hustling and hoping to cash in on the clinching celebrations and possible home playoff games in October.
The Ricketts family wants to leverage an iconic venue and turn Wrigleyville into a year-round destination. In theory, revenue-generating events like an AC/DC concert should help the Cubs get players and improve the on-field product.
“I don’t know how that all works,” Maddon said. “The citizenry really enjoys this stuff. And I’m all about that. In this particular area, my God, it’s so vibrant, why wouldn’t you do it here with that marquee?
“Springsteen was here. And then you see Billy Joel. And I think it’s great. It’s absolutely awesome. I would never want to get in the way of that. If there’s any way that we could attend at least one, I would really appreciate that.”
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]
The Cubs haven’t really answered what happens to the Masahiro Tanaka money ($20 million) rolled over from last season and built into this year’s budget. The surge of interest in this team – plus the potential for a long playoff run – should help the bottom line for Theo Epstein’s baseball-operations department.
Ultimately, the Cubs having a big-market payroll again depends on the next TV deal and the complex leveraged partnership between the Ricketts family and Sam Zell’s Tribune Co. (which included a piece of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, the owner of exclusive cable rights through the 2019 season).
It doesn’t sound like the Cubs will stop showcasing performers like Foo Fighters and Zac Brown Band. The synergy and access to musical talent had helped drive the decision to leave WGN-AM 720 and start a new partnership with CBS Radio this season.
“The only thing I’d like to see changed is the fact that we could attend them,” Maddon said. “I don’t know how that could happen, though. Like you’re playing a home series, it would be hard to play the game, set it up and then set up for the field afterwards. I have no problems with the concerts whatsoever. I’m a big music fan.”