Joe Maddon shrugs off critics: 'There is not an eighth game'

ByJesse Rogers ESPN logo
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- He didn't address "the bunt." But Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon continued a postseason defense of his World Series decision-making while saying he doesn't mind the critique.

"It's fascinating to me regarding the second-guessing because the only reality I know is that we won," Maddon said on Day 2 of the winter meetings on Tuesday.

"That's the one reality that I do know. We have oftentimes talked about outcome bias. If you had done something differently, would it have turned out better? But better than winning, I don't know what that is."

Maddon has been heavily scrutinized for his possible overuse of closer Aroldis Chapman against the Cleveland Indians last month as well as the timing of his pitching changes. Then there was the Game 7, ninth-inning, two-strike squeeze play he attempted with Javier Baez at the plate. Baez fouled the pitch off with the lead run at third base.

"I have talked about the bar room banter and I definitely know that I was able to fill up, based on my decision-making in that game, a lot of bar room banter throughout the Chicago area or nationally, internationally," Maddon said with a smile. "But the point is when you work a game like that, there is not an eighth game, there is only a seventh game. ... Everything you saw us do that night I planned out before the game began and felt strongly about it and still do. Just take away one hit by [Rajai] Davisand it worked out pretty darn well. But then you have to give our guys credit for the way we withstood the onslaught and eventually won the game."

Davis homered off a 97 mph fastball from Chapman, who had thrown 42 pitches in Game 5 then was used again in Game 6 despite the Cubs' owning a huge lead.

"Aroldis gives up a homer and it wasn't based on velocity, it was based on location," Maddon said.

The inference was fatigue had nothing to do with the home run. As for bringing in Jon Lester and Chapman with men on base, it wasn't the pregame plan but it shouldn't have been an issue, Maddon said.

"It's almost like there's a ghost at first base," Maddon said of slow-footed baserunner Carlos Santana. "It's almost like Jonny did have a clean inning and I told him that when he came in."

Lester gave up two runs on a wild pitch before Chapman allowed the Indians to tie the game. Maddon repeatedly stressed his pregame plan included most of what went on in Game 7, as his desire was to throw only those two relievers after starter Kyle Hendricks made it through the lineup twice. The postgame debate has centered around the timing of their usage as well as that bunt.

"You have to understand the context," Maddon stated. "There wasn't a Game 8. It's not July 3rd, where you can possibly have another game and absorb a loss. You can't. So you have to do all these things in a different method on that particular day that you can't do in the middle of the season."

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