Joe Maddon enjoys entertaining the media, playing mind games with the opposition and going viral on social media. But the Cubs manager has such deep roots in Florida – and an awareness of the outside world – that he had no problems with Major League Baseball moving this weekend’s Miami Marlins-Milwaukee Brewers series to Miller Park in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
“Obviously, something had to be done,” Maddon said Wednesday at Wrigley Field. “I have no issues with it. None.”
In a crowded National League Central race, the Cubs went into that night’s game against the New York Mets with a 2-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and a 2.5-game lead on the Brewers, who will technically be the visiting team in a stadium where they have a 40-33 record.
Publicly and privately, the Brewers have grumbled about their scheduling issues with the Cubs, from the first Friday night regular-season game in Wrigley Field history to the postponed May 20 game that led to this classic one-liner from manager Craig Counsell: “First time for us that we’ve had players treated for sunburn after a rainout.”
In what will be a homecoming for Maddon, the Cubs are still on track to play a two-game series at Tropicana Field next week after the Tampa Bay Rays temporarily relocated to New York, losing two of three games to the Yankees at Citi Field.
Do you think the Brewers would have issues with the setup if it had been reversed for the Cubs in the middle of a pennant race?
“Listen, you talk about the situation being as severe as it is in South Florida – and Florida in general – there’s no time to quibble over situations like this,” Maddon said. “It’s just a matter of you’re getting to the latter part of the season – whatever MLB thinks works best is fine. They still have to play the Marlins with Giancarlo (Stanton) doing as well as he is.
“Regardless, the ball carries there pretty good, too, so who knows? But I don’t think there’s anything to quibble about. I just think it’s about making sure the games are played. Of course, there’s a roof there, and they know that the games will be played under those circumstances, so I have no issues.”
Of course, if Maddon had overreacted, and the Cubs really believed this could be a difference-maker, then this team doesn’t really deserve to win the division.