Is the Force with Joe Maddon's Rays?

Al Messerschmidt

It was silly, really. It was after 2 in the morning, and the Rays and Orioles were playing the 18th inning of a game that both clubs desperately wanted to win; in the end, Friday night's / Saturday morning's marathon might have a great bearing on which teams play in the Bud Selig Memorial Death Match (A.L. Edition) in a couple of weeks.

The Rays won the game, of course. Of course, Buck Showalter deployed nine relief pitchers, none of whom were his assumed best relief pitcher. Because of course closer aren't allowed to pitch on the road unless there's a save situation. Hey, Showalter's a smart guy. Maybe he knew what he was doing. Seemed strange from 2,000 miles away, though.

Anyway, once you get past 2 in the morning, everybody gets a little loopy. And the Rays, probably loopier than most, since Joe Maddon prefers an especially loose group of guys. And there's not much difference between loose and loopy, especially during weird baseball. Watch what happened when David DeJesus knocked in the winning run ...

That's Luke Scott in the Chewbacca mask, and Jamey Wright as Gene Simmons. Both had already appeared in the game, and could do little but lead cheers by then. Still, I suspect their antics might not have played so well with, say, Bobby Cox or Tony La Russa.

Which is fine. Those guys were great managers. But before anybody thinks the irreverence went too far, it's probably worth looking at Joe Maddon's record as the Rays' manager over these last six seasons; you might figure he's doing something right. Chewbacca masks during an actual baseball game, an important baseball game ... It's not for everybody, and on some teams it probably wouldn't fly at all. But there are different ways to skin a mouse, and it seems that Maddon might have built a better cat-trap.

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