The Tampa Bay Rays have been so good for the past three seasons that fans often forget how truly awful they were before this era.
Joe Maddon, a long-time protege of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, took over an abysmal Rays team in 2006, and even under the new skipper, the team continued its decade of growing pains.
They lost 197 games in his first two seasons, a pace of 63.5-98.5 over that stretch.
Finally, nearly three years later, Maddon has a career .500 mark as a manager after the Rays' win over the Orioles on Friday. If they win Saturday's game too, he will be a winning manager for the first time since he was 7-6 for his career.
"We've got to keep advancing forward. Otherwise, it can go the other
way,'' Maddon told the St. Petersburg Times. "It's great. I'm really happy about it, obviously,
but it's a tribute to the players here. It's nothing that I'm doing."
"We've just grown as an organization, talent-wise, depth-wise. It really
speaks to the job the front office has done and the scouting and
development departments. That's really where this transition's come
from. I happen to be the manager,'' continued Maddon.
Surely, the Rays skipper knows how far the team has come in his tenure. Even so, he wants more.
"Five hundred — that's like the old days when 70 wins was considered
high. C'mon, give me a break,'' Maddon said. "Who want to be .500?''
These days, the Rays surely are far exceeding that mark.
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