Joe Maddon had plenty to say about his exit from the Cubs in an interview with ESPN. From the philosophical differences that developed between him and Theo Epstein to a change in the way the front office interacted with Maddon, there were plenty of revelations.
When Maddon said “they wanted to change everything” of his relationship with Epstein and the front office despite the success the Cubs had early in Maddon’s tenure, that’s noteworthy. However, one of the more subtle things Maddon said is worth a deeper examination on its own.
“A five-year shelf life in Chicago is almost equivalent to five to 10 somewhere else,” Maddon said. “At the end of the day, man, there's nothing to lament there. That was the most successful five years that the Cubs have ever had."
Unless you want to nitpick Maddon about the four World Series appearances, with back-to-back titles, the Cubs made from 1906-1910, there’s really no debating it was the most successful tenure in Cubs history. In more than a century of Cubs baseball since that early 20th century run, the Cubs only made consecutive playoff appearances one other time. The 2007 and 2008 Cubs both got swept out of the playoffs so they don’t hold a candle to Maddon’s four straight playoff appearances and a World Series title.
The more interesting part might be what Maddon said about the pressure of managing the Cubs. The Cubs have been a popular team for a long time thanks to the exposure of national broadcasts, but they were far from a successful team.
Was the Cubs’ job always a high-pressure job comparable to, say, the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers or did Maddon create that environment by having success right away? Was Maddon a victim of his own success? That’s not a rare concept for coaches across all sports.
At the least, it shows that Maddon feels like his time with the Cubs had run its course and it was time to leave, regardless of how the dynamic between him and the front office had changed.