Joe Maddon expects Cubs to police their own clubhouse


Joe Maddon expects Cubs to police their own clubhouse

MESA, Ariz. – Joe Maddon’s feelings about kids running around the clubhouse can be summed up with two words: Don’t. Care. 

While the White Sox go viral with the Adam LaRoche retirement story, exposing issues about the organization’s power structure and clubhouse dynamic, the Cubs keep rolling along at Camp Maddon, where zoo animals, DJs and magicians are always welcome. 

“It’s not up to me – it’s up to them,” Maddon said, wearing a green “TRY NOT TO SUCK” T-shirt for St. Patrick’s Day at Sloan Park. “I have my own office. I’m considering getting a bird in my office. I’m worried about my bird.

“I (need) a bird that can handle not being attended to. I’m looking into the cockatoo right now, some parrots. I’ve always loved birds.

“So if, in fact, I actually go through with that, I’m going to have to pay more attention to the bird on a daily basis than what’s happening in the clubhouse.”  

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The White Sox vs. LaRoche will be the backdrop on Friday when the Cubs visit Camelback Ranch in Glendale, where executive vice president Kenny Williams asked a respected veteran player to “dial back” from “100 percent” the amount of time his 14-year-old son spends in the clubhouse. 

As intriguing as this White Sox team should be with elite talents like Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier, it will be impossible to miss the perception gap between these two franchises.

“We’re all for kids on the infield,” Maddon said. “They do have their own lockers. We get them whatever toys they would like, put their names on their toys. It’s something we kind of advocate. Regarding actual children…”

The Cubs manager plans to hold his “Lead Bull Meeting” with a group of veteran players on Sunday, discussing everything from dress codes to travel issues to who belongs in the clubhouse. 

“My concept is once we leave that room, we’re all on the same page when it comes to policy,” Maddon said. “You know I don’t like the word ‘rules.’ I like to create policy and how we’re going to conduct ourselves, how we’re going to act.

“And then I believe it’s among the more experienced guys on your team to make sure that it’s adhered to. It’s not about me to do that. It’s not about the coaching staff to do that. It’s among the players.

“That’s a part of our overarching philosophy here, to treat you like a man, give you all the freedoms that you need. And in return, I believe we get greater respect and discipline.”

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Maddon views himself as an old-school guy who embraces new ideas, someone open to sabermetrics and social media and very comfortable with delegating responsibilities.

“The dictatorial component of this game, I think, is slowly fading,” Maddon said. “It was more prominent in football, maybe still is. We play 162 games, therein lies the difference with what we do here in our sport. We don’t play once a week.

“We play every day, where we’re in each other’s face every day. You can go out and practice three times a week and play three times a week and there’s a lot of time to massage whatever might be wrong. This game counts tonight, so you got to make sure that everybody’s heads are on right. That’s why I think it’s even more critical to include Major League Baseball players as a part of the policymaking.”

So Maddon will point his Lead Bulls in the right direction and get out of the way.

“I shouldn’t hear a lot of stuff,” Maddon said, “because it should be taken care of before it ever got back to me. And if it gets back to me, that means somebody’s telling me stuff that they shouldn’t be telling me.

“That’s the way any good organization should run. Whoever is absolutely managing it should be the last guy to hear about some stuff. It only should get to me if it absolutely gets to that point where it absolutely needs my attention.

“Otherwise, coaches (and) our players should handle that stuff. And that’s how you get a really good clubhouse.” 

2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

2020 MLB schedule: Chicago Cubs, White Sox could benefit from short trips

Both the Cubs and White Sox may benefit this season from the unique MLB schedule which will have all clubs play regionally, instead of across their leagues. Since the A.L. Central and N.L. Central teams are all fairly close, and Chicago is practically in the middle of the action, both the Sox and Cubs will rank near the bottom for miles traveled over the course of the regular season, according to MLB Network.

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During their 2020 schedule release show, MLB Network displayed a graphic saying the Cubs will travel the second-fewest miles at 4,071 and the White Sox will travel sixth-fewest at 4,750 miles. It’s important to note that may not give them an edge in the regular season, as the other teams to round out the list are all Central division opponents as well: the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals and Reds.

But when it comes time for the playoffs, that rest may pay off-- especially if either team faces off against a team from the West. All of the top-five teams for most miles traveled come from the A.L. and N.L. West, ranging from 11,332 miles traveled for the Rockies to a whopping 14,706 miles traveled for the Rangers. In a condensed season, with significantly less rest, that long travel could take a toll.

RELATED: White Sox schedule release: Slow start not an option with brutal first week


2020 Cubs schedule features six games against White Sox: 'It’s exciting, right?'

2020 Cubs schedule features six games against White Sox: 'It’s exciting, right?'

Imagine it’s late September. The Cubs have already hosted the White Sox for three unforgettable games at Wrigley Field — fans packed the rooftops (at 25 percent capacity) around the ballpark. Now, it’s time to head to the South Side for the final series of the season, rife with playoff implications.

If the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t derail the 2020 MLB season, that scene very well could become a reality.

The Cubs regular season schedule, which MLB released Monday, features six Crosstown Classic games. The first of two series between the Chicago teams runs Aug. 21-23 at Wrigley Field. The second is penciled in for Sept. 25-27 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Both three-game series include Friday and Saturday evening games, and end with a Sunday afternoon game.

The Crosstown rivalry consumes 1/10 of the Cubs schedule this shortened season.

“It’s exciting, right?” Cubs manager David Ross said.

And quite convenient. That’s the point of a regionally-based schedule, which has the Cubs facing only NL Central and AL Central teams. While trying to limit the spread of COVID-19, that convenience becomes especially important.

“We get to sleep in our own beds at night,” Ross said of the Crosstown Classic. “We can set up things where if we need to we can work out here and drive over like you would in an Arizona spring training. There’s a lot of options that we have for us that we can do with an in-town team. I feel like that’s definitely a luxury.”

Some of those same advantages apply to the Cubs’ games at Milwaukee as well. As is the case with all their division rivals, the Cubs are scheduled to play the Brewers 10 times, including opening day at Wrigley Field on July 24.

As for their mid-September series at Milwaukee: “Players have the ability to drive up day of the game, drive back afterwards or get a car back,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of freedom and comfort in sleeping in your own bed, especially in the scenarios we’re in this year.”

The Cubs’ setup with the White Sox is mirrored over in Missouri between the Cardinals and Royals; they will also play each other six times. The Cubs will play three or four games against each of the four other teams in the AL Central. The White Sox are expected to be a stauncher opponent than the Royals, automatically giving the Cubs a tougher route through their interleague schedule.

But that’s a small price to pay for six rivalry games in Chicago.