Maddon has gone to the Dark Side

You knew it was coming up and you had an odd feeling someone was going to do a wild antic to celebrate the next road trip,which had been dubbed the “Ring of Fire” Johnny Cash tribute tour by Tampa Bay Rays Manager Joe Maddon. When they boarded that plane this Sunday it was to be an all-black extravaganza, no blues, reds or even whites, just plain, simple black-on-black. But you would have never expected the silver fox himself would be the one to trump everyone in the locker room with his actions.

Or should we say the new “Clark Kent” of the Rays clubhouse went to the dark side. I really think Maddon went above and beyond the call of duty on the Rays day off and took an extreme turn with his silver locks and transported his folicles to a place that they had not been since his 20’s. He went totally black. Yes,black as the night in a tunnel. As dark as the black letters being typed on this blog.

And some outside of the Rays fandom might think this might be too much of an extreme measure to be taken at such an important and critical segment in the Rays season,but if you are questioning it at all,then you have not been paying attention to the savant skipper. The guy is a walking encyclopedia of witty sayings, optimistic quotes. Maddon recently told the St Petersburg Times:

“I was going to wait until Sunday night to do it, then I thought why not in advance just to get it out there, loosen things up a bit. I think we’ve been playing hard, we definitely careI’ve been looking for an avenue to lighten things up a bit. So I went with darker hair to lighten things up bit.


 

Chris O’Meara / AP

 The Rays have never had such a thinker as a player or manager before Maddon stepped into this clubhouse. Sure former Manager Lou Pinella did sport blond locks on the side of his head for a while after the team fulfilled a promise of a 3-game winning streak in 2003,but if this little experiment works,if those 25 guys in that clubhouse follow the lead and continue onward and upward in the Wild Card standings then maybe the Mensa society of Tampa Bay should have a chat with the Rays skipper.


http://www.tbo.com

And to really think beyond the box here,this could be this season’s Rayshawk”. Think about it for a moment,most of the current Rays already sports dark hair,but there are a few holdouts with the golden locks or reddish tints to their hair follicles. But could it only be a matter of time before they to, follow the skipper and make it a massive statement or show their pride in the “2009 Rays Way” of thinking.

Maddon did it to drum up confidence and excitement in the clubhouse. B J Upton did his  initial mohawk in 2008 as a change of pace to pump up the energy level a notch and show his support for the team heading towards the playoffs last season. Others quickly followed on the team and soon we had an army of  finely sculptured hair challenged fans and players who sported the “Rayshawk” look all the way into the World Series. This darkend hair statement could be the 2009 version.

For some it might take a bit more commitment than others. Rays reliever/closer J P Howell might be one of the guys to next take the ultimate “Sharpie” inspired coloring to his head along with uber-infielder Ben Zobrist. Maddon has chatted with both of them, and knowing the commitment to this team of both of them, I am expecting darker beards and hair by tonight’s game. If Howell did go “dark” he might look more like a cast member of “Grease” than a baseball player,but it would be an outward statement to the team and the fans.
 

For Zobrist, it would just be another evolution in the “Zorilla” persona and might bring him back to his earlier season glory at the plate. The one guy who the look might fit perfectly would be catcher Gregg Zaun. It would transform him into an instant band member of ‘Seether” or “Metallica” if he took his reddish-brown locks and went into the dark with the tint. But the one true test on the team, the one that would stand out the most might be with the guy you would never expect it from……..Gabe Gross.


Chris O’Meara / AP

Gross is that All-American,apple pie and Chevrolet kind of guy. Back home Americana reeks off of him. For Gross to go the “Goth way” would not only send shock waves through rural Alabama, but send a rush of excitement and energy into the crowd at Tropicana Field. There is no doubt tha
t the mental image of Maddon taking a chance like this with his hair, and the Rays trying to boost themselves back into a tight Wild Card race do notseem to have parallel paths.

But Maddon is a genius with motivation and leading by example and by showing his own personal level of commitment by altering his hair, it might be the perfect visual key to unlack the Rays potential right now. It is the motivational process in its simpliest forms. Maybe it took only a smattering of hair dye by Maddon’s new blushing bride Jaye, but it was a huge outplaying of total commitment by the skipper to his team, and to their goals in 2009. In the end, it would be a fitting tribute to Johnny Cash who wrote a song entitled “Man in Black” in 1971. In the song is the following line that just might fit the reason Maddon took this chance:

 
 

“We’re doing mighty fine I do suppose/In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes/But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back/Up front there ought to be a man in black.”
 
 

6 Comments

I hope that they follow suit with the dark hair. I think it’s a great fun way of keeping the team together. Gabe Gross would be the be all end all. You’re right.
What did Joe Maddon’s wife think of the new look? He looks a lot younger now. :)
Ginny
http://watercooler.mlblogs.com

Great job! Maddon looks like a totally different person!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Ginny,
Actually Maddon’s blushing bride Jaye is the fashion coordinator of his new hairdo. She did the blunt of the coloring and the touch-up work for his reveal during yesterday’s Batting Practice.
So far no players have jumped on the wagon with the skipper, but by Saturday night or Sunday there might be some more guys to drive the wagon to Toronto for the first 3 games of the series.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Julia,
To be honest with you.
I too have done some coloring to my hair because of Maddon.
My hair is not black, but it is “Just For Men” ash brown as we speak.
Black would be too freaky on me.
But, there were legions of devoted fans and kids who showed yp today sporting a darker head of hair.
The local store must be running out of Cairol “Joan Jett Black” as we speak.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

Thank you for your comment on my blog. I actually am still in tears. You understand what I am feeling. I am True Blue and will always be that way. I probably am too emotionally involved in baseball and no one can understand this except another fan who has as much invested in his team. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel much better.
http://catlovesthedodgersmlblogs.com

Cat,
I do understand totally.
It is a tough time of the year when the final 25-30 games suddenly spring up on us and we know the end is near.
Even with the playoffs, that would only extend the emotions and the hurt of another season gone.
I got your back anytime you need it…..just ask.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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