Joe Maddon thinks Rays fans are cheering too much for Derek Jeter (Audio)

Joe MaddonWhen Derek Jeter made it known 2014 would be his last in Major League Baseball, it was expected the treatment he would receive as he visits ballparks for the final time would be similar to that of Mariano Rivera last year.

Throughout the season, Jeter has received gifts from opposing teams and rousing applause from fans in cities outside of New York.

This weekend, the Yankees were in Tampa for a three-game series against the Rays. Not surprisingly, fans of both teams acknowledged Derek Jeter when the opportunity presented itself.

Farewell tour or not, Joe Maddon took the opportunity after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to remind Rays fans it’s okay to root for the Rays when the Yankees are in town.

The Rays are currently 6.5 games back in the American League wildcard race and eternal optimist Joe Maddon would be appreciative of support to urge his guys during their uphill quest for a spot in the postseason.

Unfortunately for Maddon, the Yankees will be back in town September 15-17. That will be Jeter’s last trip to Tropicana Field so Maddon can probably expect more of the same a month from now.

H/T NJ.com

Joe Maddon uses 867-5309 lineup for Rays against Tigers

Joe MaddonOnly Rays manager Joe Maddon would fill out a lineup card with an ’80s pop music hit in mind.

The eccentric Rays manager noted on Twitter Thursday that he was going with a Tommy Tutone lineup for his team’s game against the Detroit Tiger that night:

867-5309/Jenny of course was an ’80s hit song by Tommy Tutone that made it up to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

What was Maddon’s lineup? Take a look:

We’ll give him a pass for labeling his DH as the “o” or zero.

The Rays have been turning things around since falling to a season-worst 17 games below .500 on June 24. They’d won five in a row prior to Thursday’s game and 7 of 8. At least they’re still having a good time in the clubhouse.

Knuckleball Princess Chelsea Baker throws BP to Rays (Video)

Chelsea Baker, a 17-year-old high school pitcher from Florida nicknamed the “Knuckleball Princess,” was invited to Tropicana Field Monday and got to throw batting practice to some Rays players before the team’s game against the Pirates.

Baker met Rays manager Joe Maddon at an awards ceremony recently, and he invited her to come down to the park.

Baker, who went 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA in 19 innings as a junior at Durant High School in Plant City, threw to Evan Longoria, David Price and Jose Molina. Maddon said Baker was outstanding and that her knuckleball “moves nicely.”

How did Baker learn to throw the tricky pitch? Former All-Star Joe Niekro taught her.

Niekro was a coach of her Plant City Patriots team and spent two years teaching her one-on-one how to master it.

“I begged him, ‘Coach Joe, teach me how to throw it!’ ” Baker recalled via The Tampa Bay Times. “He only taught me. All the other boys would ask him, but he said he saw something in me.”

Baker was in the spotlight years ago after throwing two perfect games as a Little Leaguer. She has continued to play baseball and has been successful in the sport, even becoming the first female to play varsity baseball in her county.

And Maddon is quite a fan of hers:

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Joe Maddon coaching his players to gain edge on instant replay

Joe MaddonJoe Maddon is already working with his players to gain an edge — even the slightest ones — that can come from being prepared for the new instant replay challenges.

According to The Tampa Bay Times, Maddon was running his players through a drill in spring training Thursday where the guys were coached to continue plays even after a third out was recorded in case a play is reviewed by instant replay. Maddon’s thinking is that if a call for an out is overturned — or vice versa — it could be left up to the umpire’s discretion to decide what to do with the baserunners. So if Maddon teaches his players to not stop on the third out for close plays, they could get extra bases or prevent extra bases by continuing the play.

Maddon and other managers obviously cannot possibly plan for all possible instant replay scenarios, but that is a really good start.

We’ve always lauded him as being a guy who thinks outside the box, and this is just another example of how he’s one step ahead of the game. Unfortunately for him, now his secret is out and other teams may follow his example.

Forearm bash to Deadspin

Joe Maddon channels inner Allen Iverson and talks about practice (Video)

joe-maddonTampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon is among the colorful characters in Major League Baseball.

When his team embarks on their famous themed road trips, Maddon is front and center. You can find gems sprinkled into his Twitter timeline every now and then. A Joe Maddon postgame press conference always has the potential to be entertaining. Remember when he did one wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers helmet?

Speaking of press conferences, Joe Maddon channeled his inner Allen Iverson and reenacted the now famous “practice” rant by the Sixers great.

Iverson has, of course, moved on from ranting about practice. He’s now on the subject of pants.

Joe Maddon buys beer for Rays fans at Long Beach bar

joe-maddonTampa Bay Rays fans who have been following the team’s current road trip on the west coast have little reason to be impressed. Those who were there to witness the four-game losing streak with which the trip began deserve some sort of compensation. Leave it to Rays skipper Joe Maddon.

After Tampa snapped its losing streak with a 7-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night, Maddon encouraged Rays fans to join the team for a celebration at Legends bar in Long Beach.

We would expect nothing less from the man who is the brain trust behind several phenomenal themed road trips throughout the regular season. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times pointed out, the Rays were going to party win or lose — an idea Maddon picked up while growing up in Hazleton, Penn.

“It was the Win or Weep party post-game tonight,” he said. “Fortunately, it’s a Win party. Hazleton vs. West Hazleton, back in the day, Thanksgiving Day football — after the game, there was the Win or Weep Dance. Three years, Hazleton Win Dance.”

Don’t you ever change, Joe Maddon.

H/T Big League Stew

Joe Maddon: I wish Miguel Cabrera wouldn’t cry so much

Miguel-Cabrera-TigersThings got heated between the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, and slugger Miguel Cabrera was at the center of the drama. It all started on Saturday, when Rays closer Fernando Rodney was struggling with his control in the tenth inning and threw a pitch up and in to Cabrera. That’s right, the tenth inning.

For whatever reason, Cabrera thought Rodney was trying to hit him intentionally in a tie game in extra inning with no outs. Cabrera barked at Rodney a bit, but nothing happened. On Sunday, Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello came up and in on Ben Zobrist in the first inning and hit him on the shoulder. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was not pleased.

“I thought it was absolutely uncalled for and hopefully the league will take a look at that,” Maddon said, via MLB.com’s Sam Strong. “That’s totally premeditated. There’s no question about that.

“We didn’t hit anybody. I want that to be duly noted. When this is all processed, I would hope that people process it properly.”

Zobrist agreed that Porcello hit him intentionally, noting how Cabrera is awfully “sensitive” for someone who is considered the best hitter in baseball.

“I think it was pretty clear in everyone’s minds that it was intentional after the things that were said last night,” he said. “It was at my face. I was fortunate to get out of the way enough to only get hit in the wrist. I would expect a little bit better after the words that were said.”

Cabrera got his revenge — even though none was needed — on Sunday when he smashed a towering home run into the rays tank in center field. Maddon joked about that feat after the game and praised Cabrera’s ability, but he also criticized him for complaining.

“The rays were in danger,” Maddon said. “He could have gotten a phone call or a letter from some activist group, I’m sure. It was a helium ball. I don’t debate this guy is outstanding. He’s wonderful. I just wish he wouldn’t cry so much.”

I second that. Zobrist is mostly likely right about Cabrera being frustrated that he struck out on Saturday in a crucial situation. He may be the best hitter in MLB, but he’s not good enough that someone would hit him to lead off the tenth inning of a tie game.