(CBS) More than two months after his Cubs broke their 108-year championship drought and just weeks before the start of a new season, manager Joe Maddon is still fielding questions about his moves in Game 7 of the World Series and hearing the second-guessing.
“I find it humorous that people want to go there,” Maddon said Wednesday while speaking at his “Thanksmas” dinner for the homeless. “After all, we won 103 games. We had to beat the Giants and Dodgers and Indians to win the World Series, so we got through the NLDS, the NLCS and then WS. And people want to focus on one moment where I totally disagree with them, and I can’t convince them of that. There’s nothing I can do about perception and interpretation. That’s up to to the brain, the mind and the heart of the beholder. For me, my interpretation is what I did, and I had that planned before the game began. To try to influence somebody else to change their mind, then it almost appears I’m trying to make an excuse, which I won’t do.”
Several decisions by Maddon were criticized late in the World Series as the Cubs rallied from a 3-1 deficit. In Game 6, he used closer Aroldis Chapman for 1 1/3 innings in a game Chicago would win 9-3 at Cleveland. Many thought he needlessly tired Chapman’s arm out.
In Game 7, it was then Chapman — in his sixth inning of work in a four-day stretch — who allowed the game-tying homer in the eighth inning to Rajai Davis before the Cubs won in extra innings.
Earlier in Game 7, Maddon gave Cy Young finalist Kyle Hendricks the early hook after 4 1/3 innings, despite him allowing just one earned run on four hits. And it was ace starter Jon Lester whom Maddon then brought in with a runner on base, in a situation Maddon had previously said he wanted to avoid because of Lester’s problems with throwing to bases. The Indians ended up breaking through in that fifth inning when Lester unleashed a wild pitch that plated two runs.
It’s not just outsiders who have criticized Maddon. After signing with the Yankees, Chapman expressed his belief that he was used poorly on several occasions.
For his part, Maddon doesn’t understand why some are focusing on a few fleeting moments instead of the journey. He’s defended his decisions on several occasions this offseason.
“I would prefer that everybody understand the magnitude of running the gauntlet of the Giants and the Dodgers and the Indians and how difficult it was to get to Game 7,” Maddon said.
Maddon also took a moment to point out a strategical move that paid off for him, pointing out he used Ben Zobrist in the cleanup spot for much of the season to the chagrin of some who wanted a more powerful hitter there. It was Zobrist’s go-ahead double in the top of the 10th inning of Game 7 that helped lift the Cubs to the title.
“Everybody wanted Zo out of the four hole,” Maddon said. “Until it came to the seventh game of the World Series, then he did pretty good.”