Maddon, Longoria also get “The Sporting News” honors
Last night more honors got bestowed on the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sporting News announced yesterday that Tampa Bay Ray’s Manager Joe Maddon was selected asthe 2008 Manager of the Year.
Now to everyone in Tampa Bay, this was only a formality. We have seen Maddon go from the guy no one really knew anything about, except he loved printouts and statistics. To the lovable manager we all enjoy just talking to for as few minutes.
I have been honored to be a memeber of his “Maddon’s Maniacs” since their inception a few years ago, and I still have a set of his retro glasses hanging from my bedroom mirror. Maddon has brought a sense of professionalism and respect to the Rays in his 3 years here. Every meeting we have with him before games he has been upfront and been totally at our disposal for photos or comments. He is the type of manager you want youe kids to play for, becuase you know they will learn how to play the right way under his wing.
He is also now the winningest manager in our franchises short history. You all might know him more for his slogans, or Maddon-isms. His most famous was his 9=8 slogan for the 2008 season. In it he proposes that if 9 starters on the lineup work hard for 9 innings, that will translate into one of the 8 playoff spots in the post season.
As we all know locally here in Tampa Bay, the 9=8 goes beyond just the surface. Maddon was actually hoping also for 9 more wins from the starting pitchers, 9 more wins from the improved defense, and finally 9 more games from the offensive unit of the Rays. In total a 27 game increase in wins. And if you put that on top of the 2007 total, you get 93 wins. The Rays regular season total wins for 2008 were 97 wins, 3 better than Maddon’s plan.
Maddon is already in California getting ready to celebrate again, but not about his Tampa Bay Rays great season. This time the charismatic manager of the upstart Rays will be walking down the aisle with his long time fiance’ . Maddon and the future Mrs Maddon has had this planned all season long, and you can bet it has a better flavor to it after the team’s success.
Not to diminish the event, but his fiance’ has been by his side most of the season watching Madden and the team gel into the team that people can count and rely on for years. Maddon and his blushing bride will be then headed off to a romantic European honeymoon where Maddon hopes to see a few Rays jerseys in the French and Italian countryside.
After he comes back home, there is a second planned reception in the small hamlet of Hazleton, Penn., for a December celebration of the nuptuials. Maddon thought that it would be a logistical nightmare for everyone in Hazleton to attend the fuction, so they will return to his hometown after the honeymoon and celebrate with his life-long friends and family.
Besides the playoff run for his team this year, Evan Longoria now has another reason to pop a few champagne bottles this week. He was recently given the 2008 The Sporting News Rookie of the Year honors. The award is a huge honor, and will proceed the announcement in the coming days of the MLB American League Rookie of the Year award.
Longoria played well enough to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training for the Rays, but was sent down to Triple-A Durham for the first 11 games of the season. And injury to Willy Aybar brought him back up to the majors to stay for 2008. During the season, Longoria played with the team lead in homers and RBI’s before finally falling to an injury in August after being hit by a pitch in Seattle.
Longoria led all American League Rookies is Slugging Percentage, Home runs and RBIs in 2008. His first half ended with his first All-Star selection as the last player voted in by the fans to the game at Yankee Stadium. There he participatedin the Home Run Derby, but rookie nerves got to him early and he did not fare well in the event.
His outstanding play at third base for the Rays this year got him a second place on the pretigous Fielding Bible list for 2008. But his play at third will get him noticed for a long time in the league. People have ermarked that his power and his control and grace at thrid remind them of a young Mike Schmidt. That is truly high praise for a rookie and I personally think he is more like ex-Oriole Brooks Robonson, and will be remembered as one of the best third baseman in not only Ray’s history, but in the American League.