(CBS) New Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t concerned in the least bit by the franchise’s World Series drought that will stretch to 107 years come next season.
Asked in his introductory press conference Monday afternoon if he knows what he’s gotten himself into in managing the Cubs, Maddon responded of the challenge that lies ahead, “I love it.”READ MORE: Man Seriously Wounded In Shootout With University Of Chicago Police Officer In Hyde Park
“This is an entirely different moment than any year that preceded it,” Maddon said a press conference that was held at the Cubby Bear across from Wrigley Field.
Maddon also won’t back down from talking about the ultimate goal of winning the World Series. He only knows one way to approach spring training, and that’s to set the goal of making the playoffs and building from there.
“I’m going to be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon said. “I’m going to tell you that right now, because I can’t go into spring training and say any other thing. I’m just incapable of doing that. Why would you even report? It’s all about setting your standards, your goals high.
“I’m going to talk playoffs, I’m going to talk World Series — this year. I promise you I am. And I’m going to believe it, and I’m going to see how this is all going to play out. And it’s within our future, there’s no question about that. But I don’t know exactly when that’s going to happen. But in my mind’s eye, we’re going to make the playoffs next year. That’s how I’m going to approach next season.
“The challenge is so outstanding. How could you not want to be in this seat?READ MORE: Teens Shot In Chicago's West Englewood Neighborhood
“That was then (the World Series drought). This is now. I don’t know know all the circumstances surrounding that moment, where the last 107 years or whatever it’s been. This is a one-in-107-year opportunity for me right now. Or 108 years or whatever it’s sitting at right now.
“I’m way too optimistic to worry about things like that. I’m kind of pragmatic, in a good way, I think. I don’t focus on stuff like that. I refuse to.
“Why would you not want to accept this challenge in this city, in that ballpark, under these circumstances, with this talent? It’s an extraordinary moment.”
The 60-year-old Maddon is the 54th manager of the Cubs, and he signed a five-year deal worth at least $25 million. His hiring came about after he exercised an opt-out clause in his contract to leave Tampa Bay, where he had manged for nine seasons, leading the Rays to six winning seasons and four playoff appearances. Maddon’s opt-out clause kicked in when former Rays general manager left to become president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, and Maddon said he wasn’t even originally aware that the clause was in his contract.
Someone called to tell him about it, he said, without specifying who that person was.MORE NEWS: Chicago Weather: Arctic Blast Coming Late Tuesday Night
Maddon added that the main reasons he took the job was because he “aligned” with the front office, knew the player development system was strong and because of the allure of the “cathedral” of Wrigley Field.