(CBS) Whether he intended to land there or not, Cubs manager Joe Maddon has found himself in the postseason spotlight.
Twice in this National League Championship Series, Maddon has been ejected and then gone on a postgame rant in front of the national television cameras. Before and in between those histrionics in defending his Cubs, Maddon came under scrutiny for his tactical decisions regarding the use of his bullpen.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Record Warmth Possible Next 2 Days
One man who’s heard enough with such criticism is Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who defended Maddon in an interview on the Bernstein and Goff Show on 670 The Score on Thursday afternoon.
“Anyone who thinks this series is about Joe Maddon or Dave Roberts is really missing the boat,” Epstein said. “It’s about the players executing and producing. Our whole organization is about the players. And sure, managers have an impact, but it’s largely overstated. The bottom line is when players produce, you get into favorable situations in the game, favorable matchups and you can do a lot of different things. And when we don’t play well, it can put a manager in a tough spot such as when guys in the bullpen, for example, who had really good regular seasons and pitched well down the stretch struggle in the postseason. It’s going to make any manager be in a tough spot.”READ MORE: Illinois Department Of Employment Security Admits To Monthlong Callback Wait Times; State Rep. Says Methods Must Change
The Cubs trail 3-1 against the Dodgers in the NLCS, with Game 5 looming at Wrigley Field on Thursday night. Chicago lost Game 2 when No. 5 starter John Lackey was asked to come on in relief in the ninth inning of a tie game. As Cubs star closer Wade Davis watch — Epstein confirmed Davis is and has been healthy — Lackey allowed the game-winning homer to Justin Turner.
That decision led to much debate, which Epstein understands. Speaking generally and not to that decision solely, Epstein reminded not everyone in an organization is going to view each situation similarly.
“Look, we’re obviously on record as saying we don’t always agree with everything that Joe does, with the same way he doesn’t agree with everything we do (in the front office),” Epstein said. “But the key to that kind of relationship is always being able to talk things through and try to use the collective wisdom of the whole organization in the end to get the right answer, to get better going forward.MORE NEWS: The United Center COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Site: An Inside Look
“But look what Joe’s done. You’re talking about a manager who’s got his team in the LCS three straight times. We have more regular season wins than any other club the last three years and we have more postseason wins than any other club the past three years. So that might be a little bit more valuable than the people looking at this like ‘This is Joe Maddon’s series, and when we lose, he’s lost.’ This is not the case.”