By:  Kurt SnyderKurt Bio Picture

“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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  1. One would have to assume that mr I and dd didn’t want maddons bombastic personality . Some businesses just traditionally don’t like personalities like his. Look how dull girardi is . You could make the same argument that the Yankees should have gotten him . Girardi is in his final year. Would you hire him?


    • Maddon was never an option. He only wanted to manage a NL team and made that clear. Tiger veterans will take very personally Mr.I ‘s death and the 4-14 Cleveland record. I expect a very focused team in 2017 and to see the invisible goggles early. Health is what will matter most.


  2. Incredibly great managers come to mind. Managers like Phil Jackson, Greg Popovich, Scotty Bowman, Bill Belicheck all had/have a way to keep their players on edge. Unfortunately, I’ll never believe that Brad Ausmus has the qualifications or confidence to put his players on edge, let alone make them uncomfortable.


  3. The Illich formula for winning is building leadership around the old and familiar like Avila, Leyland and company, hanging on because the approach worked for the Wings. Chris has the ability to change that but needs to find his own way. I hope he hits the reset button starting with Avila on down, Make 2017 a farewell tour. If not, I hope he sells.


    • Rather see Al given the budgets DD was afforded. Once he knows he can spend money, we would then see what he knows about building a team. I believe it is unfair to judge him under the existing circumstances.


  4. As much as I wish winning the title posthumously would galvanize them I doubt it will. Brad has proven incapable of inspirational messaging but JV has the clout to deliver a wake-up call. This is the last hurrah for this roster. If he lends his voice to that sentiment it could be motivational enough to get it done.


    • I agree. Brad is a cardboard cut-out figure of a manager without the concept of Team Chemistry. If JV or some other player or players don’t step forward then I would call back the opera-singing concessions guy to fire up the crowd who could in turn maybe fire up the team. Nice to have you back Helen!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m not sure baseball works that way. You only play one football game a week–you can psyche yourself up, go berserk for a few hours, and then recover for a week. You play a baseball game every day; ultimately talent, conditioning, and leadership will out–which is not good news for the Tigers.


  6. This team may have been motivated at one time. Then, Brad was named manager and sucked the life out of Comerica Park. Coupled with the psychological blow this team and franchise suffered at the hands of the Red Sox in the ’13 ALCS, this organization has never recovered. They’ve sold 420000+ fewer tix as proof since


  7. The GM-DD and Owner invested hundreds of millions in players and park, yet went cheap on a two crucial places, – Manager and Closer (Rondon). Both clearly lacking experience for that moment. These judgments point to more than just a one time lack of judgment.


    • Where they really went cheap, and what really hurt them, was people running the scouting and coaching in the minor leagues. At least I hope they went cheap–otherwise they wildly overpaid.


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