When Joe Maddon was introduced at the Cubbie Bear in November he bought all in attendance a shot and beer saying it was the “Hazleton Way”. Yesterday Maddon might’ve had to pick up the tab for everyone who was present at his restaurant in Tampa “Ava” because he won his third manager of the year award, first of the National League variety. It was a landslide victory over his NL Central counterpart Mike Matheny who finished second in front of Terry Collins.
Maddon compiled 18 first place to Matheny’s 9, and tallied 11 second place votes one behind Matheny’s 12. Joe Maddon led the Cubs to their first playoff series win since 2003, their first home clinch since 1908 and in the process led the team to a 24 game turnaround in his first season at the helm of the Northsiders. The Cubs of course got swept by the Mets in the NLCS, but with Maddon steering the cart and cooking the dinner along with Theo shopping for the groceries it’s easy to say that this was no fluke of a season.
Now while it’s not going to be a 97 win season year in and year out, the Cubs were in a pennant race throughout most of September and had tons of growing pains on the year. They were exploited in the NLCS as a young team. Finding out the hard way that mistakes will be cashed in on no matter how minor in the postseason. The Cubs starting rotation failed them in the end but that should be shored up with the potential addition of Price or another free agent. Lester and Arrieta both got hit hard in the NLCS and their lack of success early in the series doomed Chicago before they could come home to Wrigley.
The manager of the year is a nice tip of the cap to Maddon, but he and the rest of the organization would give it all up for a chance at a seven game series in late October. The biggest issue with 2016 is that perhaps the rebuild happened a little too fast and now the bar has been set too high on a team that clearly overachieved. The next step is a pennant for Chicago and that could get harder next year because the San Francisco Giants are eventually going to get their act together. The Giants will improve and will more than likely put themselves in a position where it’s their pedigree in an NLCS. If you were to look that far ahead it would be an extremely tough hill to climb if you’re a young Cubs team. The Mets were there for the taking this year and Chicago got demolished by their young arms, San Francisco would just as easily wipe the floor with Chicago.
Today the NL Cy Young Award will be given out with Jake Arrieta as the leading candidate for the nod.