CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s batting practice, just an hour before game time and Joe Maddon sports his new Cubs pullover while going over the lineup.
“Is this too big on me?” he laughs.
As he poses for a photo, he leans against the dugout wall.
“My dad always told me I look good when I lean,” he says.
Then he shares that it is the 13th anniversary of his father’s death.
“I need to bring home a win for him,” Maddon says.
He did. The Cubs went on to shut out the Reds, 5-0, that night.
As the new Cubs skipper looks out at Wrigley Field, he says he’s still in awe of his new job and his new office.
“It’s like I get to go to work here every day?” he said. “That’s pretty solid.”
New to Chicago, he’s a small-town kid from Hazleton, Penn., working and living in the big city, something he’s still getting used to.
“I’ve been shopping a lot, almost too much,” he laughed. “But I grew up in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Living in an urban setting, I’ve never done it before, never. Tampa, kinda but it’s not nearly like the city of Chicago.”
Maddon loves his toys and says he’s soon bringing his cars to the Windy City so he can do a little exploring.
“I’m bringing two vehicles,” he said. “I’m bringing my 1990 454 SS Truck and a 1972 Chevelle, and it’s all convertibles so I can’t wait to check out the city.”
Maddon knows one thing. The Chicago sports fan is one to be reckoned with, but so far, he says, he’s had support from both sides of the baseball fence.
“The refrain — and it’s really humbling, — is ‘really happy to have you here,'” Maddon said of his interactions with those in the city. “‘I like the way you do things.’ I got that the other day, you get all these different, the North Side, the South Siders — even the White Sox fans have been complimentary that I find interesting.”
Maddon has a laid-back demeanor, and his management style has been called “unconventional.” Maddon is known for his themed road trips and for bringing in exotic animals and DJs into the clubhouse.
“Well most of what I’ve done in the past truly have been extemporaneous,” he said. “The letterman’s jacket road trip was planned ahead of time, but the python, the penguins weren’t planned.”
As for what’s up his sleeve this season, he’s still not divulging but says a relaxed team is a winning team.
“I encourage the players to live for the moment,” he said. “I tell them to take the time to look around you, take a mental picture of it, take it all in. I talk about that often.”
And taking on the job of manager of the Chicago Cubs under such high expectations?
“It amazes me how many people run away from expectations,” he said. “It’s almost like they’re afraid. That’s not a good thing. I thrive on that. That’s where I’m coming from. I can’t deny that the Cubs not being in the World Series in over a 100 years is very alluring.”
Yeah, about that?
“Well, of course our goal is to get the playoffs, get to the World Series and win it,” he said. “I’ll never run away from that thought.”
Maddon admits he has a lot to prove but believes in kismet and says he’s right where he belongs.
“For so many different reasons, I think this is the right place to be right now,” Maddon said.
Maddon signed on as Cubs manager after nine years with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2008, he led the team to win the American League pennant. He also won American League Manager of the Year.