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Monday August 31, 2009 8:52 pm

Chemistry and Baseball with Joe Maddon

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Joe Maddon

For Joe Maddon, manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, chemistry is not just a physical science. It is a collective state of mind shared by 25 players who work towards a common goal. For the Tampa Bay Rays of 2008, that goal was almost achieved. Everybody expected another season of mediocrity, but a perfect storm of reasons, including career years from a consistent starting lineup and rookie campaigns among the best in recent seasons lead to a World Series appearance for the club widely considered to be the laughing stock of the American League East.

“I’m a big believer in team chemistry,” said Maddon. “I’m a big believer that it can be created. It’s not just a residue of winning all the time.” No kidding. When it came to the Rays, whom the baseball world knows well had never had a .500 season prior to 2008, losing was a way of life. High draft picks and low expectations were the norm. American League pennants and World Series appearances were about as realistic as snow falling outside of Tropicana Field.

When it comes to winning and team chemistry, the old ‘chicken and the egg’ theory comes into play. Which comes first? Maddon believes the answer is pretty simple. “The easy excuse is always that if you win it will just come. But if it’s never been there before, how do you just all of a sudden start winning?” It’s a good question. Maddon has spent much of his managerial career with team building events in an attempt to unify his players. In 2009, he’s spearheaded a number of initiatives, including the “Ring of Fire” road trip to Toronto and the “Rayhawk” haircut during last season’s pennant race.

“When you get a group of guys buying into the same philosophy and working it on a daily basis with sincere interest…and sincere belief, then all of a sudden you can do as well as you possibly can,” says Maddon. “People don’t accept constructive criticism unless they know you and trust you.” And it’s well known that Maddon has the respect of his players. His common sense approach to people has caught the attention of the media, and of course, the rest of the league. His philosophy has proven that talent alone can only get you so far. Baseball is a team game, and when you play as a team, great things can happen.



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