Joe Maddon doesn't like all the politics involved with managing the All-Star Game.
What if, for example, he has to pick between two Rays, Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist, for a roster spot? Decide whether to select Tigers RHP Edwin Jackson, whom the Rays traded in a deal that already looks lopsided? Consider taking Indians C Victor Martinez, with whom he exchanged heated words a couple months ago? Shunning one of his former Angels players?
But he loves the opportunity of managing this All-Star Game.
Though he grew up in Hazleton, Pa., Maddon grew up a Cardinals fan — an affection dating to an early 1960s game at Yankee Stadium he attended with his father and when offered a souvenir picked a Cardinals cap.
"Being the fact that it's in St. Louis, being an old Cardinals fan growing up, it's kind of interesting to me," Maddon said. "Being a Branch Rickey fan and all the history that surrounds that city, it's weird because growing up I had never been there. I became a fan listening to them on KMOX (radio). And then I became this like stupid, ridiculous die-hard fan and always wanted to see the old Busch Stadium."
He finally did, with the Angels, then saw the new stadium in June 2008 with the Rays. But to go back in this role is clearly special to a man who typically tries to downplay such honors.
"To me, it's an intriguing moment in regard to where I've come from; my development as a young man becoming a baseball fan, being so, really, you have no idea how closely linked I was mentally to this group for so many years. To be the manager of an All-Star Game there, it's almost unbelievable to me.
"So really, I am honored to do this, and I am excited to do this. Everybody is going to tell you they'd like to get the four days off. But this situation is kind of unique, and I'm looking forward to it."
Maddon knows there will be some issues, some controversies over who gets picked, who gets to play, how certain guys are, and aren't, used. But he wants to savor what he can, too.
"What I'd like to be able to do," he said, "is slow it down and really enjoy it."