Last month, I wrote a piece here about how you would like love Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, even if you rooted for a team that was a rival of the Cubs, or even if you didn't follow baseball at all.
Today, we add new Cubs manager Joe Maddon to the list.
There are many reasons to love Joe Maddon, though most of them do require having an appreciation of baseball. He's a wonderful guy, and has a way of dealing with his players, the media, and the public that's unique and a joy. He believes strongly in openness and honesty, and often says, "If I tell a player the truth, he might not like me for a day or two, but if I lie to him, he'll hate me forever."
But there's something far more about Joe Maddon that just is just so smart and thoughtful and terrific that it transcends sports, even if sports is where it has its beginning.
After all games, the manager or coach of every professional sports team (or probably most-every college coach, as well) has a post-game press conference where he goes out to meet the media and answer their questions. What Joe Maddon does is, before the press conference begins, is wear a different t-shirt from a different charity each time to promote it. But he doesn't just promote the charity, but makes sure to talk about what charity he's promoting that day, making sure it not only gets on camera and covered by the press, but sends out a tweet each day to bring it attention.
His idea came to him last summer, when he was manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. A fan gave him a charity t-shirt and Maddon decided to wear it to his news conference. And then he figured why not expand on that and keep it going, so he sent out a tweet on July 26 asking people to send him t-shirts for their charitable causes. And it didn't have to be for local charities, in fact what Maddon has said that he particularly loves that he gets t-shirts from charities all over the country. And now that he's with the Cubs, he says he plans to continue with this effort.
Such things aren't new to Joe Maddon. For the past eight years, he's been holding "Thanksmas," which puts together volunteers to support the homeless in the Tampa Bay area with food and other benefits that Maddon pays for, along with donations -- and even gets involved with the cooking and serving, based on spaghetti, meatball and pierogie recipes from his mother. There were some concerns in the Tampa-St. Pete area that after Maddon left the Rays and signed with Chicago that the event would end. But Maddon returned last December. "This is not going away," he said.
That's just Joe Maddon. A wonderful guy. Yet another reason to like the Cubs now, even if you don't.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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