Contrary to the narrative his firing was a “mutual” decision after 2019, Joe Maddon said Tuesday he would have liked to continue as Cubs manager.
“I thought it would have always been interesting to be able to hang together for a couple more [seasons],” said Maddon, who’s in his second season managing the Angels, in town this week playing the White Sox.
“I can’t deny that.”
The Cubs fired Maddon at the end of the 2019 season in which they missed the playoffs. Both Maddon and Theo Epstein, the Cubs president at the time, emphasized repeatedly it was a mutual decision.
“That group right there was not only very talented, but very charismatic too,” Maddon said. “I liked the people in that room. The way they dealt with pressure or expectations was outstanding.
“There was a lot to like there with all those players and the staff. The staff was outstanding. Of course you would think retrospectively you’d like to have a couple more years to get one more shot at the gold ring. It didn't happen."
After he was fired, Maddon quickly landed his job with the Angels — where he previously spent 30 years as a player, minor-league instructor and coach.
“The flip side is it's actually turned out really well for me and my family,” Maddon said. “I don't mean to sound selfish, but where I'm at right now with the group I'm with is pretty special.
“I'm looking forward to our next trip to the World Series here.”
The Cubs hired David Ross in place of Maddon and won their fifth NL Central title in six seasons during the shortened 60-game 2020 campaign.
They blew up their core at the trade deadline in July, trading Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Báez in separate deals.
The Cubs won one World Series with that core, making three straight trips to the NLCS (2015-17). They won 95 games in 2018 but lost a Game 163 to the Brewers and then the NL Wild Card Game against the Rockies.
They finished 84-78 in 2019, missing the playoffs. Critics of the group have said they underachieved in recent years after not getting back to the World Series.
“The run was pretty darn good,” Maddon said. “I think sometimes people become confused. Four playoff appearances, three NLCS — that’s pretty good work.
“The one year we didn’t make it, we just didn’t make it. There was a lot of reasons — a lot of injuries at the end of that year."
Maybe Maddon will get a second stint as Cubs manager, considering he said Tuesday he might manage another 10 years after seeing Tony La Russa come back for a second stint with the White Sox.
“I felt it added 10 years of shelf life to me immediately,” he said. “My goal has always been to work as long as Mick Jagger wanted to be on stage. Tony just validated all of that.”