Everybody loves Joe Maddon.
What's not to love about the Tampa Bay Rays coach about to enter his 20th season in the majors, the last six at the helm of the Rays?
He's the winningest coach in the Rays' short history.
He's okay with keeping a pitcher on the mound when the rest of us want to send him to the showers.
And, he's okay with letting a pitcher's dog (David Price's Astro) stay in the clubhouse.
He's so quotable that the Internet is dotted with Maddon-isms and JoeMahisms, including the one he'll never live down.
Having won two out of three games in a weekend series against Toronto in 2008, the eternally optimistic Italian said, "When you Meat Loaf that group under those circumstances, that's a pretty good thing." Huh?
In other words, his team had won two out of three and according to the famous 1977 Meat Loaf song Two Out of Three Ain't Bad.
Hence the verb to "Meat Loaf" was born. (Oh, did we mention Maddon is a huge rock 'n' roll fan?)
With less than a week until opening day (Tuesday at home against Baltimore), we thought we'd better grab Joe for a few nonbaseball questions before he gets too busy winning and quipping and rocking and rolling to talk to us.
Patti Ewald, Times staff writer
It seems to the world that Joe Maddon is always in a good mood — and your good mood has led to the Rays' success by making team members feel at ease with and trusted by you. What's your secret to keeping the doldrums away?
I don't know if it is a secret, but my method is a routine. I am into my routine and I believe in the following: exercise, adequate amount of sleep and a good diet. Honestly, it's not more complicated than that. People I don't think really take those three things seriously enough. Those things put your day in line. Also I like to meditate in the morning.
How's your mom Beanie? How often do you talk to her?
She's doing great. I call her about once every two weeks on average. Sometimes I am a bad son and it's two weeks and sometimes I am a good son and it's a little more often.
Since you're our favorite Italian, we were wondering what items we'd always find in your basket at Mazzaro's Italian Market in St. Petersburg — and what wines you would choose to go with fish and steak.
Some really good imported prosciutto. Love stinky provolone. Some really good hard-crusted bread. Regarding the wine, my knowledge of Italian wines is limited. I would definitely go for a Ribera del Duero Spanish wine with all of the above because the Spanish diet is very similar with the meats and the cheeses. Mazzaro's is absolutely one of the finest shopping experiences anywhere and I wish I got there more often.
Is it true that you told the team to "look hot" when dressing for road trips? What does Joe Maddon wear to look "hot"?
It's not to look hot, as long as they think they look hot that's all that matters. For me, what do I do to look hot? T-shirts and jeans.
You recently tweeted that you went through the clubhouse playing the team's walk-on song, Bang A Gong, on your iPad and offering $100 to anyone who knew the artist. We know what none of the team knew: It's T. Rex. Did you pick that song? If so, why? And, if you were a player, what song you would choose to have played when you came up to bat?
That was all serendipity on that particular day. I love the song by T. Rex. I love Bang a Gong and it came on and I was in a good mood so I just wanted to challenge the team knowing pretty well that I wouldn't have to give up 100 bucks, so it was a safe bet. And then (Rays bench coach) Davey Martinez actually said that would be a great walk-on song and that's when the ball began to roll.
If I were to come to the plate what would I play? Start Me Up ... maybe ... by the Stones. Definitely wouldn't mind that. Something by Springsteen. Just a bit or a piece of Kitty's Back in Town. Or something from Led Zeppelin like Ramble On. That's a tough question. For anybody who can nail it down to one song, God bless them.
Know someone who would make a good "5 Questions" subject? Tell Patti Ewald. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8746.