first: What's up with the glasses? Aside from Who's going to be your closer?
it's the question that Maddon--who wears thick black retro specs--gets the most
now that he's the manager of the Devil Rays and more people are paying
attention to him. "My girlfriend [Jaye Sousoures] picked them out,"
says Maddon, 51, the Angels' bench coach from 1996 through last season.
"She wanted me to go unconventional. I got no support from anyone in the
Angels' locker room when I first wore them last year. Really, no one likes
them. But I do."
His taste in
eyewear isn't the only thing that distinguishes Maddon from other big league
managers. A graduate of Lafayette with a degree in economics, the native of
Hazleton, Pa., listens to the Goo Goo Dolls and Coldplay on his iPod, is as
computer-savvy as a teenager and is a voracious reader of best sellers.
Divorced with two children from his previous marriage (Sarah, 22, and Joey,
20), Maddon has been dating Sousoures, who owns a business consulting firm and
goes to law school at night, for about 2 1/2 years.
As a minor league
coach in the Angels' system in the early 1990s, Maddon lugged a 10-pound laptop
everywhere he went. "I used to get a lot of crap for that, more than I've
gotten about the glasses--it was like I had three heads," says Maddon, who
was among the first coaches to use a computer. "I used to tell people that
there's going to come a day when just about everyone in baseball uses
in November injected new life into a moribund franchise. He replaces the fiery
turned bitter Lou Piniella, who resigned after three straight 90-loss seasons,
and it's hard to imagine two skippers who are more different. "It used to
be a jungle here--you were always looking over your shoulder, worried that you
did something wrong," says leftfielder Carl Crawford, 24, who batted .301
last year. "Now it's a more relaxed environment, which is a good thing for
a young team."
team is the fourth youngest in the majors (average age: 26.6), quickly set the
new tone. At one workout he wore a Mexico team jersey from the World Baseball
Classic (a nod to second baseman Jorge Cantu, one of Tampa Bay's two
participants in the event); he served beer, chips and salsa during his daily
media sessions; and he gave the front office the green light for a Joe Maddon
Retro Glasses giveaway on April 3 at Tropicana Field. "I want this place to
be loud, raucous and a blast when we're off the field," he says.
"There's enough pressure that these guys face out there."
What Maddon faces
is one of the most difficult challenges in baseball: He has to turn a team that
has never won more than 70 games into a winner while competing in the AL East,
the majors' best division. But with the Devil Rays armed with the best young
talent they've ever had, Maddon may be the right man at the right time. "I
don't know what it was like in the past here, but there's no doubt that we have
the players to turn this thing around," he says. "I'm very
For the first
time in a while, so are the Devil Rays.