Friday, November 21, 2014

5 comments Tom Jones (Nope, Not That One) Turns on The Taylor Swift Music and Writes An Angry Break-Up Letter to Joe Maddon

Tom Jones (nope, still not that one) of the "Tampa Bay Times" (winner of 10 Pulitzer Prizes!) wants Joe Maddon to know that they are never ever getting back together. It's not a love story anymore between Maddon and the Rays. Jones thinks the Rays should have said "no" when they learned the Cubs were looking to hire Maddon, but knowing the vision of Maddon managing the Rays again was just another picture to burn and the story of them was over, it was time to begin again, shake it off, and recognize that everything has changed. Now that Tom Jones knows Joe Maddon was trouble, he also knows the deal with the Cubs was shady so the Rays continuing to win games without Maddon will be better than revenge.

It smells rotten and it looks shady and it feels dirty.

This is why you don't visit the red light district on Friday nights. Nothing good can ever come from it.

No matter how you slice it, it all just feels wrong.

Who knows if the Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon or not? Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. The bottom line is that Joe Maddon was going to be a popular manager once he left Tampa Bay even if the Cubs weren't interested in him. If the Cubs had not jumped on him, some other team would have suddenly found fault with their manager, fired that manager and hired Joe Maddon. It's not like Maddon would not have had options if the Cubs didn't exist. No team had to tamper with Maddon, he had to know his services would be wanted by another MLB team.

Joe Maddon is gone. It's official now. The Cubs introduced him as their manager Monday.

Considering the Rays have duped unsuspected MLB teams to sign players like B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford in free agency, I think karma bites them in the ass that they actually lost a member of the organization who may not suck once he is out of the Rays' employ.

He put on their hat. He put on their jersey. And that's when it truly sunk in.

Just start singing "Teardrops On My Guitar" and you will feel better, Tom. Don't be a sad fanboy. The Rays gave Maddon an opt-out clause, he used it, and now everyone moves on.

He isn't coming back to Tampa Bay next season. It's over.

This type of writing seems too mournful for a professional sportswriter. 

He belongs to someone else now.

Oh boy. Maybe the Taylor Swift music isn't working. Perhaps some mid-90's Alanis Morrissette is a better option. You live, you learn.

On Monday, he talked about young talent and promise for the future and winning pennants and, naturally, he did it in his oddball and charming way. Except, this time, he wasn't talking about your team.

Yes, I'm pretty sure Rays fans are aware at this point that Joe Maddon is no longer talking about the Rays when he refers to talent and promise.

But, you know, Maddon leaving is not the awkward part. It's how he left. That's the part that's hard to swallow.

You mean the way he left in that he took advantage of a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave? Yeah, it is hard to swallow that he exercised his contractual rights to become a managerial free agent.

As far as leaving, who can blame him? He wanted more money and the Cubs gave him more money.

Then I fail to see the issue. Maddon wanted to leave if he wasn't going to be paid what he perceived as his market value. He wasn't getting a contract he wanted and so he left. Then a team who was willing to pay his market value jumped in, fired their manager (in a classy way if you ask a tough situation the Cubs handled it really well), and hired Joe Maddon. Was there tampering? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, Maddon was getting a new job either this season or next season if he wasn't managing the Rays. It was happening. Whether the Dodgers planted crack cocaine in Don Mattingly's car in mid-January, the Braves suddenly remembered that Fredi Gonzalez didn't in fact know "The Braves Way," or the Yankees disconnected the brakes on Joe Girardi's car, Joe Maddon would be managing for an MLB team in the next 12-15 months.

Maybe he thought the Cubs gave him a better chance than the Rays to win a World Series. Maybe he wants to work with Cubs president Theo Epstein.

And honestly, that could very well be it. I would want to work with Theo Epstein while making more money, as opposed to working with a new GM in Tampa Bay while making less money. It's a pretty easy decision. Work with a GM who has won a World Series in a large market for more money or work with a new GM in Tampa Bay while making less money and ending up on the manager free agent market at some other point in the future when Maddon's stock may not be as high. It's not a tough call.

Whatever the reason, Maddon has every right to live his life how he wants.

Yes, he does. So what's the problem again?

Wanting more financial security, wanting to call Wrigley Field his office, wanting the challenge of turning baseball's lovable losers into champs doesn't make him a traitor.

So your point being that your point about this situation stinking to high heaven is wrong, because even if the Cubs did tamper with Maddon, he would have wanted to manage the Cubs anyway? This isn't a "J.D. Drew goes to the Red Sox" type of situation where Maddon wasn't sure he could get more money as a free agent manager and a team potentially tampered with him allowing him the knowledge of realizing for sure there were green pastures. Maddon was getting paid to manage a team. No team needed to tamper with him for him to know this as a fact. Maddon's value is too high in baseball circles for him to make less or the same money as he was making in Tampa Bay once he left the Rays.

He's not, suddenly, a bad guy.

But it felt shady. Nothing really was wrong with what Maddon did, but something was wrong with what Maddon did.

This was strictly business

Strictly shady business.

And you could bet your bottom dollar that the Rays would have had no problem firing Maddon if he started losing more games than he was winning.

You are killing your point that the move was shady by acknowledging the Rays could fire Maddon, it was strictly business and Maddon isn't a bad guy. 

But it's how Maddon left that feels a little slimy.

It felt like the use of a contractual clause.

Let's start with the moment Andrew Friedman, the Rays vice president of baseball operations, left to join the Dodgers. At the time, Maddon told Tampa Bay Times baseball writer Marc Topkin, "I'm a Ray, I've said it all along, I want to continue to be one. I still believe … it's the best place in all of baseball to work, but I also stand by the fact that the ballpark needs to be improved."

Yes, I think a quote like, "I will be investigating the use of a contractual clause that allows me to become a free agent" might have caused a greater stir than was required at that point. Joe Maddon has the right to leave his options open without stating outright that he will be leaving his options open and can do so contractually. Also, notice Maddon said he "wants" to continue to be a Ray and his mention of the ballpark needing improvement (and let's be honest, going from The Trop to Wrigley Field...that's "movin' on up" like hasn't been done since The Jeffersons took the plunge) tips off that all isn't 100% well. In that phrasing, it's clear that there is some reciprocity required for Maddon to continue to be the Rays manager past his next contract.

Fair enough. The Rays need a new ballpark. But other than that, Maddon said right here was the best place in all of baseball.

Yes, he also said he "wants" to be a Ray. I want to be a millionaire. I "will" not be a millionaire for the foreseeable future. One is a wish, the other is a statement of a current, more permanent condition. I want Chipotle for dinner. I will be eating something else.

He was signed through next season, and the Rays were trying to sign him to an extension. All seemed hunky-dory.

Did it though? I had not thought about it because I'm focused on the Braves manager who has won a lot of games, yet I still think he's incompetent at times. Did it make sense that the Rays would be able to sign Maddon to an extension and things seemed hunky-dory? If I remember correctly, and I do remember correctly, it took about 0.25 seconds for Maddon's name to be linked to the Dodgers after Friedman was hired by the team. So things did seem hunky-dory, unless you choose to ignore the immediate rumors that Joe Maddon would leave Tampa Bay to follow Friedman to the Dodgers. Once Friedman said Mattingly was the manager, it took 0.35 seconds for the Cubs to appear as a possible landing spot for Maddon.

Not to go Bill Simmons on everyone, but Tom Jones saying "all seemed hunky-dory" is like a guy and his very attractive girlfriend still dating while she goes to college and he stays at home to get a job after high school. She sees multiple opportunities to further herself personally and professionally, while he thinks everything is cool because nothing has changed for him. Yeah sure, if you want to ignore the life change (Friedman leaving), everything seems great, but she is attractive and potentially available to a whole new pool of men. Just because things didn't change for the Rays didn't mean things didn't change for Maddon. It all seemed hunky-dory only if the Rays wanted to ignore the reality they had a very attractive (talent-wise) manager and one of the reasons he seemingly stayed was just removed from the equation.

But then came the stunning news that Maddon had a brief opt-out clause in his contract that was activated when Friedman left the organization. Maddon took advantage of that window and, before you know it, he's putting on a Cubs hat.

This is where the story gets a little more messy.

Things like this always are a little messy. It doesn't mean there was tampering. If I were in Joe Maddon's place (or any manager's place really), unless I were with a team I couldn't see ever leaving I would ALWAYS have a list of teams I would like to manage in my head. I would be focused on my team, but have a list of teams I wanted my agent to call ASAP if shit goes bad at my current location. So it's pretty easy to think that once Maddon used his opt-out he had a list of teams he wanted his agent to call. Again, Maddon has to have known he was wanted by other teams if he were ever not the manager of the Rays.

Maddon said he didn't even know he had an out clause until his agent, Alan Nero, told him. 

I think he's lying. It doesn't matter if he is lying or not though, because the fact remains the clause was in the contract.

Seems hard to believe that Maddon left the Rays and walked away with no idea that the Cubs were willing to fire their manager and give him $5 million a year for five years.

If you are in denial about Maddon's value then this could be hard to believe. I am not in denial. I know Maddon worked for a small market team that had a low payroll and he is considered one of the best managers in the game. Maddon had to figure he would get a raise of some sort when he went to a new team and he had to figure that even if he sat out a year his not managing would only make him more attractive. This has happened in other sports. How many times are Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher considered candidates for an NFL job? Absence makes the heart grow fonder of overpaying for a manager because if a team's current manager sucks there is always Joe Maddon sitting out there. I find it hard to believe that Maddon wouldn't know he had really great market value if he and the Rays ever parted ways.

Nero says the tampering charges are "silly'' and "insulting.''

Nero is just fiddling while the city burns to the ground.

No, what's silly and insulting is expecting reasonably intelligent people to buy that Maddon left the Rays with no job lined up, especially when rumors that he was headed to the Cubs cropped up almost immediately.

I have no idea if there was tampering. It is NOT insulting to think Maddon had no job lined up. The fact the rumors said he was heading to the Dodgers before the opt-out clause was known goes to prove that. The rumors of Maddon heading to the Cubs immediately after opting-out is proof of Maddon's value. It's not silly and insulting to think Maddon would have a job soon after leaving the Rays. It's logical.

And, by the way, Nero calling the Rays' accusations "really sad'' as his client is walking out the door? That's just poor form. Allow the Rays to pout for a moment and leave it at that.

I understand, but "pouting" isn't accusing the Cubs and Nero of breaking MLB rules against tampering. Pouting is being sad and writing a column like this. Accusing the Cubs and Nero of violating MLB rules is more than just pouting.

Meantime, there's the ugly business that Maddon appeared to have gone after a job that was already filled by someone else.

Okay. It's a business. Do sportswriters get mad at B.J. Upton for going after a centerfield job that was someone else's prior to his joining the Braves? 

It's hard to blame the Cubs. Epstein correctly pointed out that he had an obligation to do what was best for the Cubs and, in his mind, firing first-year manager Rick Renteria and hiring Maddon was the best thing to do. Frankly, you can't argue with that.

And they did it in a really nice way. This does lead the world closer and closer to the Cubspocalypse where the Cubs win a World Series and Cubs fans in pink hats becoming 100 times more annoying than Red Sox fans in pink hats became in the mid-2000's. The world will be filled with new Cubs fans and real Cubs fans will go crazy knowing they were there from the beginning while the pretenders wear Rizzo jersey's and think Jerome Walton is Sam Walton's younger brother. I'm just saying, it's going to be a disaster when the Cubs win a World Series. By "disaster" I mean it's going to make the bandwagonism in other fan bases look small in comparison.

But did Maddon break some sort of code? Did he betray a member of the fraternity?

Don't be so dramatic. Players take the jobs of other players all the time. The same thing can happen with managers. What does it matter if the Cubs fire Renteria behind the lie of "cause" or just admit they wanted to hire Maddon? Maddon has a right to get money if another team wants to pay him.

Yeah, it feels like it. Put it this way: I'm guessing Maddon would not have appreciated someone going after his job when he lost 101 games in his first season as a major-league manager.

No, he would not have appreciated it. He would have eventually understood that the Rays had a chance to hire a really great manager and accepted a managerial job with another team or accepted a coaching job with another team.

If you're a Rays fan, it's easy to feel like a jilted lover. If you watched Monday's news conference, it felt like Maddon had already forgotten about you.

Oh, quit being such a drama queen. He's the Cubs' manager now and will only talk about how excited he is to be their manager. He's not going to cry tears and show a slideshow documenting his years in Tampa Bay with the Rays.

It took him until the 36th and last minute on the podium to finally get around to thanking the Rays. He spoke almost exclusively about his future with the Cubs and very little about his past with the Rays.

Because he had just been hired as the Cubs manager and didn't think anyone would act like a jilted lover if he didn't mention the Rays 10 times per sentence. Get out of the bitter barn and come play in the hay. Seriously, why should Joe Maddon talk about his past with the Rays when he takes a new job with the Cubs? Would Tom Jones (no, not that one) talk about his time at the "Tampa Bay Times" during most of his first day at his new job?

There were no apologies, no regrets, not even an acknowledgement that many Rays fans are upset to see him go.

I think it's laughable you wanted this from him.

He has clearly moved on and now the Rays must move on, too.

I feel like Jones is crying as he writes this sentence.

In the end, it's hard to blame anyone.

Except for the part of this column where Tom Jones (no, not that one) blames the Cubs for maybe, possibly, who knows, tampering with Joe Maddon and blames Maddon's agent for lying about whether the Cubs tampered. As long as a reader ignores the entire premise of this woeful column, it's hard to blame anyone. In the end, it's hard to see how Jones could write in this article that it's hard to blame anyone when the entire column is about blaming two parties.

Everyone tried to do the right thing. Maybe they even did the right thing.

Maybe they did or maybe they didn't do the right thing. The important thing is to ignore Joe Maddon's market value away from the Rays and focus on what the sadness surrounding Maddon's departure says. Be bitter, see that the Cubs tampered. Know that Maddon knows his market value, see that it doesn't matter if the Cubs tampered or not.

Still, the whole thing just feels wrong.

Turn the Taylor Swift as loud as possible and just dance until it doesn't hurt anymore. After you get done dancing the pain away, please understand that Joe Maddon knew a team would want to hire him as their manager and the rumors about him going to the Dodgers before he even opted-out support this statement as true. 


Chris said...

All I could picture while reading this article is someone crying while watching the Notebook while the other Tom Jones' song It's not unusual was on repeat in the background.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I'm pretty sure that's exactly how this happened. There had to be some Taylor Swift music involved too. Too much rage and juvenile emotion otherwise.

Chris said...

Tom will probably listen to Shake it off once he's gone through the grieving process over Maddon. But then he will go to spotify and notice Taylor Swift isn't on their anymore and the grieving process will begin all over again.

Bengoodfella said...

Maybe one day there will be a Taylor Swift box set that comes out. This should help Jones feel all the way better.

Chris said...

Maybe then he can go to Joe Maddon's house with a jukebox and play we are never getting back together on repeat to show Joe how over him he is.