That was the most important theme running through Mike Maddux' news conference Wednesday after he interviewed for the Cubs' managerial job.
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Maddux, the acclaimed pitching coach of the Texas Rangers, canceled an interview this week with the Boston Red Sox, citing the distance between his Texas home and Boston.
Even though Maddux came to Chicago and wowed the media, he cautioned that his family matters above all, whether it's his wife and children or even his brother, Greg Maddux.
"We have a lot of things to think about, a lot of things to weigh," said the 50-year-old Maddux. "Family's very important. I played for a long time. When I was finished playing, my kids were 10 years old, eight years. I said, 'What happened?' So then I got into coaching right away, and we moved the family to Wisconsin when I was with the Brewers.
"Then I went to Texas. But at least while we were in Milwaukee, we were together. For the first two years in Texas, I had my older daughter with me in college down there. My wife and my younger daughter remained in Wisconsin. We were apart. Right now, as of June, my family resides together. That has not happened in three years. That's pretty special. There does come a time when you've got to stop and smell the roses."
Maddux became the third man to interview for the Cubs job, joining Pete Mackanin and Dale Sveum. Sandy Alomar Jr. will interview Friday.
Of the three who have interviewed so far, Maddux seemed the most at ease dealing with a group-media event. Cubs president Theo Epstein and his baseball crew have put all candidates through a rigorous interview process, giving them baseball simulations and asking them to give quick responses.
"I enjoyed it, man," Maddux said. "It was pretty neat. Something I had never done before. So it was a learning experience on both ends. I got to know them. They got to know me. See what our values are. We share a lot of values. We share passion. We share the inner drive to win."
Maddux was so at ease that he flashed a sense of humor over several questions:
• On wayward pitcher Carlos Zambrano, Maddux said: "How would I handle him? I don't know. The first thing you've got to do is get to meet him. I heard he's a big teddy bear. I might pick him up and just burp him.
"I saw Carlos Zambrano from across the field 7-8 years ago, and he was the best thing since sliced bread. He'd beat you on the mound. He'd beat you at the plate. He'd beat you in the field. He could even steal bases. Total package. Great competitor. He was the best pitcher in the National League."
• On what he would tell Cubs pitchers: "Pitch better than I did here."
• On his impression of Epstein: "I can't do an impression of him. Young. Bright folks. Much like what I deal with in my current position. The new-age general managers, front-office guys, highly educated. Very motivated. But very true and very honest."
Maddux also showed a serious side. He chose not to discuss why he did not want to go to Boston, saying only, "Chicago's a neat place."
He also mentioned family privacy in not wanting to talk too much about whether he'd want to bring in his brother, the future Hall of Fame pitcher, to be pitching coach. Greg Maddux also has cited family issues as a reason for not getting more deeply involved in the game than his current role as a special assistant in the Cubs' front office.
Mike Maddux, a journeyman pitcher in his playing days, has build a solid reputation as a coach, guiding Brewers pitchers to the playoffs in 2008 and the Rangers' staff to the World Series this year and last.
"Maybe it's the message," he said of his success. "Maybe it's giving guys the opportunity to perform. Maybe it's giving them the opportunity to fail. When you don't put the weight of the world on your shoulders, you encourage guys. It's not life or death. It's win or lose, but it's not life or death. Whether you get them out or not, you're still here tomorrow. You treat guys that way. We want to win today, but as long as you're a better player tomorrow, we're all right."