In Chicago with the Angels, Maddon returns still proud of Cubs' historic run
Back managing in Chicago Tuesday night for the first time since the end the 2019 season, Joe Maddon was still beaming with pride over his five years in the Cubs' dugout.
"First of all, the run was pretty darn good," Maddon said. "I think sometimes people become confused. I mean four playoff appearances, three NLCS, that's pretty good work. The one year we didn't make it, we just didn't make it. There were a lot of reasons, a lot of injuries at the end of that year."
That was the 2019 season, when the Cubs finished 84-78, missed the postseason and fired Maddon.
Now in his second year managing the Los Angeles Angels, Maddon didn't even mention winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs' first in 108 years.
He'll always have fond memories of that standout Cubs team, which is nothing but a memory after Kyle Schwarber and Jon Lester were let go over the winter and Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez were among the multitude traded in July.
"I thought it would have always been interesting to be able to hang together for a couple more, I can't deny that," Maddon said. "That group right there was not only very talented, they were very charismatic, too. I liked the people in that room, the way they dealt with pressure and expectations was outstanding.
"There was a lot to like there with all those players, and the staff was outstanding. Of course, retrospectively, you'd like to have a couple more years to get one more shot at the gold ring. It didn't happen."
Not much good has happened for Maddon in his first two years back in California, where he was a player and coach for the Angels from 1975-2005.
Los Angeles is headed for a second straight fourth-place finish in the AL West, but Maddon sees better days ahead.
"I've had this wonderful opportunity to come back to California and do the Angels again," he said. "That's why the flip side is it's actually turned out really well for me and my family. I don't mean to sound selfish but, where I'm at right now, the group I'm with, it's pretty special. I'm looking forward to our next trip to the World Series here."
The 67-year-old Maddon had a long talk with 76-year-old White Sox manager Tony La Russa before Tuesday's game. The two became close last season when La Russa was a special advisor with the Angels.
Not even thinking about life after baseball, Maddon was thrilled when La Russa rejoined the Sox as manager.
"I felt it added 10 years of shelf life to me immediately," Maddon said. "My goal has always been to work as long as Mick Jagger wanted to be on stage and Tony just validated all of that. I was so happy to hear that and he's proving that mind is very sharp.
"That man cared as much as anybody I've ever been around and he carries defeat a lot more strongly than he does victory. That's just the way he's wired, in a good way."