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It’s a team game! Breaking down Joe Maddon’s comments about players and COVID-19

While roasting the former Cubs manager is fun, he’s not wrong with his comments about player responsibility amid COVID-19
Credit: Charles Riedel/AP
Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon watches during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

ST. LOUIS — Confession time first. I like a Joe Maddon roast. I really do. Seeing the former manager of the Chicago Cubs say something that gets him into trouble or seeing a group of words put him on the hot seat is wildly entertaining theater around these parts of South City.

But in this latest case of "What did Joe say now," I am going to take a different road. First, here's the original tweet from USA Today's Bob Nightengale:

Credit: Bob Nightengale

I am going to look for the positive in his statement. Yes, I could do another violin-headlined piece about Maddon whining about the world not working in his favor. It would be easy. 400-500 words, like cutting the grass basically.

Right away, this was a tweet that meant 1,000 words instead of the 280 that Twitter provides. Maddon wasn't calling out the players who will sit out the season; he was respecting their honest choice to keep their teammates and their families safe.

That's what this is all about. Maddon, like the majority of the world population, doesn't want COVID to spread further and not only delay the season but result in other infections. The tweets were really in reference to Mike Trout's status.

The superstar outfielder has a pregnant wife at home and is weighing the decision at a steady pace. He wants to play and is one of the best in the game as he turns 29 next month, but playing 60 games in an endangered environment may not be the wisest action.

Let's be clear. The safety protocols are in place not only for the player but for his family and friends. If a player thinks it'll be impossible to toe the line socially and/or doesn't want to put his family at risk, they need to stay home.

Maddon had a lot more to say, as an Anaheim sportswriter pointed out by pulling screenshots from Nightengale's story.

Here's what happened. Nightengale fired up the original tweet that pulled out the most vindictive blend of Maddon's comments to start his string of reporting. And then he filtered in the other 50 when the story was printed. That's not the proper way to do it, but nevertheless a road that has been traveled often in this day and age of sports reporting.

Here's the thing. Maddon gets out the piano and whines about plenty. Rain delays, scheduling. Why rosters can't employ a magician. The other team's manager acted like Tony Soprano. He does it a lot. The guy is a free speaker who doesn't hold back.

In this particular instance though, Maddon was being understanding to players like Trout making that fateful choice. He was being sensitive in the right way.

2020 will look different across Major League Baseball. There's no doubt. Games will run differently and the scorecards will be a little ugly. That's the reality and the reprieve.

The Angels and other MLB teams will have to work with what they get.

While a good Joe Maddon roast can be enticing, this time didn't deserve the heat.


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