“It’s really important to become uncomfortable,” Maddon said on Tuesday. “If you become comfortable, that subtracts growth from the equation. I think if you remain uncomfortable, you continue to grow, you don’t become stagnant or complacent. On every level, I want us to be uncomfortable, and I think that’s a really positive word.”
Over the last couple seasons, the World Champion Chicago Cubs manager, Joe Maddon, has come up in plenty of our conversations. We wondered aloud when the Tigers seemingly showed no interest in maybe detouring him on his way to Chicago from Tampa.
He was regarded as one of the best managers in baseball. Theo Epstein treated him as if he was the best. Epstein built his team, got them ready to win, then went out and got himself the trump card. The man who he felt could finish it off. He went out and got the best.
Maddon had the ability to motivate and spent years in Tampa getting more out of that team and franchise than anyone could imagine. It’s why there was lots of screaming at the Totally Tigers site when he became available. We needed to do everything we could to get him to Detroit. He could have been the difference we felt. When you have a game-changing manager, you can, well, change the game.
Maddon has demonstrated the ability to keep the game fun. To keep his team loose. To be unpredictable. To motivate his team by creating his own vocabulary and motivational tactics.
But now he has the ultimate challenge. To motivate a team that has just won a title. Maybe that’s tougher than winning the title itself.
So the Cubs’ theme for this season is to be “uncomfortable,” because comfort breeds complacency and stifles growth. It’s the kind of fresh message he doesn’t carry over from year to year. Maddon changes things up. He challenges himself to motivate his team in different ways from one year to the next.
You know where I am headed with this. Brad has a challenge this season. How does he create his own motivational message for his team? Winning for Mike Ilitch is a worthy goal. But frankly, given his poor health, they should have been doing it all along. So I don’t know how sustainable and how successful that mantra will be over the course of 6 months.
You will probably hear it a lot this spring. The team wants to win a title for Mr. I. And you know, it would be a great story, wouldn’t it? The team can certainly draw motivation from the fact that they were never able to win for an owner who did nothing but throw caution to the wind for his team.
It has to sting quite a bit, especially for the core of this team who has yet another chance to get into the playoffs. October is when they would become dangerous. A playoff run with Mr. I on their minds is when it would be the most impactful. But it’s unfair for that to be the rallying cry for 6 months.
So this is what we have heading into this season. The Tigers have plenty of motivation.
Number 1: A chance to seize the opportunity given to a core who never thought they would have another shot together.
Number 2: Win for their fallen owner.
It’s feel-good stuff to start the season. But sustainable? I think not. There has to be a new defining message for the team to use to motivate them. For the entire season. Where is it going to come from? Who is it going to come from?
Joe Maddon is going to drive home the message to “be uncomfortable” for the entire season. He is a unique and inspiring manager who has now added ‘World Champion’ to his resume. Another reason for a team to look to him knowing he has the ability to ‘get them home.’
Where do the Tigers look for inspiration other than through the memory of a great owner?
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