Rays manager Maddon feels 'complete' with first Wrigley visit

Rays manager Maddon feels 'complete' with first Wrigley visit
August 9, 2014, 3:45 pm
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Tony Andracki

A visit to Wrigley Field is typically a bucket-list item for sports fans.

But for baseball lifer Joe Maddon, his first visit to the "Friendly Confines" represents something more. It signals a completion.

Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays manager, set foot inside Wrigley for the first time Friday morning. Kind of odd for a guy who has been coaching in Major League Baseball for the last 20 years.

Wrigley was the last park Maddon needed to cross off his list. He's now been to every baseball stadium in America, as he also checked off Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati earlier this season.

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Maddon is a busy guy, trying to manage a ballclub that is kind of in purgatory since it's not yet out of the hunt for the postseason, yet it just traded away its iconic player in David Price at the deadline.

But the 60-year-old knew this series with the Cubs was coming up and circled the date on his calendar.

"Oh yeah. Absolutely. When I saw the schedule at the beginning of the year, I was really excited about it," Maddon said. "I've been doing this since 1994 in the major leagues and it's my first time here.

"Now, it's complete. You complete me," he joked.

Maddon is an intelligent baseball mind, one of the revolutionary managers in the big leagues who gets the most out of players and would be at home on any stage, from a small-market team like the Rays to a big-market franchise like the Cubs.

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He appreciates the fanbase in Chicago and has found the time to take in the sights and sounds of Wrigley Field.

"It's wonderful. It's unique. It's similar to - but a little bit different than - Fenway," Maddon said. "I've not been around the fans long enough, but I do see almost like a St. Louis thing where they're really good baseball fans and they can appreciate good baseball either way.

"The fact the Cubs have not been in the playoffs often and you still get this kind of allegiance and following, it's pretty impressive. Quite frankly, I think the ballpark speaks to that a lot. I mean, on a Friday afternoon at 3 o'clock, this place is jammed. Where else would that happen? I don't know.

"And they do it consistently. I think the allure of the ballpark, the area it's located, it's just got a great vibe to it. It's more than a baseball game when people come out here."