By: Jeff Riger
It’s no secret that Rays skipper Joe Maddon is out there. Not only does he have a great baseball mind, in Jim Leyland’s words, but he also knows how to get his team to relax. Earlier in the season when Tampa was struggling, Maddon got the genius idea that his team needed to chill out, so he brought in Penguins, real, actual Penguins into the clubhouse.
“That was Cliff and Shelly” said Maddon, describing the penguins. “Cliff is one of the most affable penguins in the world I was told and he really lived up to the moment. Shelly was cool but Cliff was a very gregarious penguin.”
Maddon did admit there was one behavioral tendency he had not thought of beforehand. “The thing about all penguins that I found out is that they like to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes and so our clubhouse attendant really had a hard time with that. Cliff actually demonstrated his allegiance for the Rays by going right on top of our logo on the carpeting,” he said.
Penguins are not the only idea Maddon used to get his team loosened up. There have been mariachi bands, cockatiels and, of course, magicians. “The magician came in and it was a day game and it was an hour or so before the game. Some guys are in the batting tunnel taking extra swings and I said go get those guys and come back here, this guys is going to do some real good card tricks. So they came back, he did some card tricks and we win the game” Maddon said.
Maddon is not interested in his team working harder in practice or taking more swings, he just wants them to relax. He believes that is the best way to win and with his track record — it’s certainly hard to argue.
Take a listen to the Maddon audio below, I guarantee at least a couple of laughs…