1. Rays

Joe Maddon returns: What he stirs in Rays fans

Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field for the first time as an opposing manager when the Cubs begin a series against the Rays on Sept. 19, 2017.
Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field for the first time as an opposing manager when the Cubs begin a series against the Rays on Sept. 19, 2017.
Published Sep. 18, 2017

We asked what you'd think of seeing former Rays manager Joe Maddon back at the Trop for the first time as his Cubs play the Rays on Tuesday and Wednesday, and received a wide range of responses. Here is a sampling, some edited for clarity:

Author of Tampa Bay's greatest sports achievement

Joe Maddon back at The Trop (aka Pit) should be completely celebratory and nostalgic. Forget the way his tenure ended. I will be applauding the success he brought to what was a pathetic franchise. The Rays reaching the World Series two seasons after losing 101 games in Maddon's first season was as improbable as 98. Forget the Bucs and Bolts titles. The Rays' run to the 2008 World Series is the greatest Tampa Bay pro sports achievement.

— Brian Ayres, Valrico

Coming out on the other end of a divorce

It's like seeing an ex-husband with whom you remain friendly but recognizing that he left you, and you have a perfectly good new guy.

— Cathy McEwen

A standard to strive for

Joe Maddon, what a man! Displaying class, honor and unbelievable managerial skill, he brought Tampa Bay respect and made us want to watch and root for the Rays. Seeing him manage the Cubs makes us understand what we had and strive for that level of professionalism again.

— Gene Stern, Treasure Island

Lovefest? Pass

Joe Maddon dumped the Rays for the money. That's fine. Many others have done the same. But let's not turn his return into a Tampa Bay lovefest.

— Bill Feyerabend, Palm Harbor

A few million...?

The impact Joe had on the Rays success was obvious. His creativity to keep the players motivated was awesome. Based on the Rays success while Joe was here, the owners let him go over a few million dollars?

- Dean Boring, Lakeland

A Tampa Bay treasure

Joe Maddon taught us that in baseball, as in life, being able to rely on your fellow man is key. He showed us stoic patience on the field, fun and creativity off it, and a steadfast compassion for the community. Tampa was lucky to have had the pleasure of experiencing this truly great man.

— Alex Tronnes

Papa Joe's abandonment

Joe Maddon is like that father that left his poor family for a nicer rich one. He got the kids as they were older and didn't have to go through the struggle of raising them, and through the hard times but gets all the credit. Meanwhile he keeps saying how much he still loves the older family and wants to help but the family he left starts to fall deeper into poverty.

— Dean Mesick

At least they re-signed Balfour

The Rays couldn't afford another $3 million a year to keep a local hero and fan favorite and what may arguably become a baseball legend, but then (waste) $12 million four months later by cutting Grant Balfour two weeks into the season.

— Alan C. Bomstein, Clearwater

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Wedding analogy warning

Watching Maddon at The Trop this week, sporting a World Series ring, will be like going to the wedding of your college boyfriend while you're still single; you've both moved on, and you're happy for his joy, but you're a little sad and a little bitter.

— Claire Brantley, Tampa

Thanks for the experiences

I will always be grateful to Joe for being instrumental in my being able to attend a pennant-winning game, a World Series game, and at a most unlikely venue! Welcome home, Joe, and thank you.

— Bob Larose, Tampa

Loss of respect

Joe Maddon is an excellent manager, no doubt about that but I lost a lot of respect for him when he left the Rays with one year remaining on his contract. He found a loophole in his contract and didn't skip a beat signing with the Cubs.

— Gerry Smart

Time to move on, Topkin

He was good for the Rays, in more ways than one, while he was here. Great. But he's gone. Who cares about Joe Maddon anymore? (Times baseball writer) Marc Topkin's continued love affair with this guy is nothing short of sickening. Nobody cares about Joe Maddon anymore, Marc, except you (for some unknown reason). Marc has Joe on such a pedestal, it's embarrassing. Please keep in mind, that if not for one extra run by Cleveland in Game 7 of last year's World Series, Maddon would be known as the new Steve Bartman. He would be forever crucified in Chicago. It is universally known as one of the worse managed games in baseball history (his management of Game 6 was awful as well). Do we care about, or need to write about, all of the past coaches of all Tampa Bay teams? He did a good job while he was here, he's a good guy, but he has moved on, and so should Topkin.

— Joe Salerno

Wrong dugout

Great to see the Madd Scientist here again, just wish his experiments were in the home dugout.

— Zach Alexander

Didn't we have something special?

Definitely will enjoy having Joe back in the Trop for a couple of days as it will bring back a lot of good memories. However, still not quite over the fact he left the Rays for greener pastures. Tampa Bay had something really special and unique going on down here.

— Giles Dowden, Tampa

Maddon's legacy

I welcome Joe back to the Trop. He did his job when he was here, took us to the World Series. I think it says something about the man and his abilities. He carved out a team with the fundamentals we still use today. The Rays Way gained respect in the baseball world. It's how we play to win. Thank you Joe Maddon.

— Kathy Warren

A management revolutionary

Joe Maddon forever changed the way I saw how a baseball game should be managed. From bringing in penguins to the clubhouse to funny road trip outfits. He brought his players together and kept them going all year which is very difficult since the season is so long. Thankful to have had him in Tampa Bay for as long as we did.

— Peter Amalbert, @RaysNation_

For his next trick....

Can he bring 20,000 of his closest friends so these guys can play in front of a crowd one time?

— Chris Conaughty

Now the world knows

Joe Maddon was the Rays savior. He took what Andrew Friedman could scrape together on a meager payroll and built winners. He had unorthodox methods, but he was a winner. And he showed the world what he was capable of with the Cubs in 2016. I'm very grateful for JoeMa."

— Tim White

Lamenting 2009

Looking forward to seeing the best manager in baseball. Compare what we have today and what we lost? Continuing to rely on a rookie manager who appears to not be capable to get his team play above .500 while the Joe did the impossible. (Rays principal owner Stuart) Sternberg will always cry ballpark but I absolutely believe that if they spent a few bucks and kept the 2008 squad intact we would have returned to the World Series. I'll root for the Rays but have zero confidence. Looking forward to seeing JoMa!

— Dave Janeway

Remembering Maddon's Maniacs

When I see Joe I always remember the good times I had as a member of Maddon's Maniacs. We would meet once a month and Joe would speak and take questions. The meetings also had players and front office personnel who would speak after Joe. As a regular fan it made me feel like I was part of the operation. Still have my T-shirt and cowbell.

— John Feeley, Tampa

Maddon getting what he deserves

Visited Wrigley a couple weeks ago and realized Joe gets to play in a playoff environment 81 games a year. The buzz lasted from first pitch to last. Miss him here, but not sure there is a manager more deserving of that experience.

— Bob Gould

The most Maddon moment

Most vivid Joe Maddon memory, Rays are playing Rangers. It's the year Josh Hamilton was a monster. Rangers have bases loaded for Hamilton, Maddon orders that he be intentionally walked. Forcing in run and Rays get next batter out to end inning and eventually win game. Amazing gamesmanship.

— Jim Moore

Always welcome

I'm excited about Joe Maddon coming back to Tampa Bay! I'm glad he kept a home here too, and I've seen him a few times at his house on Bayshore. Joe is welcome back anytime, and he is still loved here.

— David Bryant, Tampa

Made it a success

Joe Maddon brought success to Tropicana Field. After all those Devil Rays years, he got us to the Series. I wish him all the best.

— Bart Culpepper, Sebring


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