At 60, the skipper is steering a new club, one with a long, long history of failure. Will he be buying a round for the patient fans of Chicago's North Side?
DAN PATRICK:How much was the tab when you paid for drinks for media members during your introductory press conference at the Cubby Bear?
JOE MADDON: Nothing. It was horrible. The media folks did not want to drink during the day. My plan is to pick a game after a Cubs win, head over there and do it for the fans one day. I'm gonna try to pick one of the lower-attendance days.
DP:How tough was the decision to leave Tampa?
JM: It was not easy. I had no idea this was even on the horizon. I'm just driving my RV back from Pennsylvania, and all of a sudden [then Rays GM] Andrew Friedman leaves and I'm shown this two-week window of opportunity to try to carve out my future. It was not something I had thought about a whole lot. I had to process a lot of stuff quickly. If you want to do that, get in an RV and drive across the country because you have plenty of time to think.
DP:How surprised are you that the Rays want to look into tampering charges?
JM: I was surprised. It was really unfortunate. I was totally oblivious until this popped up. I had no plans [to leave]. I had already been talking to Andrew about next year. I have all my Rays notes regarding next year written in my iPad. All of a sudden this thing just happened. It's unfortunate that it's turned into that.
DP:How do you manage expectations in Chicago?
JM: I don't think it should be any different than anywhere else. I'm going to preach a lot about staying in the present tense. Patience. I know that people have been patient for over a century. I understand how difficult that may be. But it's about how you approach the day.
DP:How sensitive are you to criticism?
JM: Not [very]. Everybody has a right to their opinion. I know I'm going to be heavily criticized when things don't go well. I understand the entertainment component of what we do. I try to avoid reading a lot or watching a lot of TV. Both good and bad. I don't want to hear how great I am. If you want to tell me how bad I am, it doesn't bother me. I'm sure the thickness of my skin is going to be tested this season at some point.
DP:How attractive is the historical upside?
JM: Highly attractive. The Rays had a lot of futility prior to 2006, kind of a shortened version of what the Cubs have gone through. I'm into that.
DP:Are you going to take the RV to spring training?
JM: It's already there.
Baylor fans have griped about the playoff selection committee's ranking the Bears seventh, but coach Art Briles won't take the bait. "I have faith in the system," Briles told me. "Is that naive? When the smoke is all cleared, we'll see [how it shakes out]." ... I asked the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire, producer of the movie Beyond the Lights, why he wants to be behind the camera instead of in front of it as the next athlete turned action hero. "First, you don't see too many black superheroes," Stoudemire said. "Second, you don't see any 6'10" superheroes." ... At 75, ESPN's Dick Vitale is looking ahead. "I want to be the first guy in the history of broadcasting to do a game at 100," Vitale said. "My final game? Kentucky and Duke. Krzyzewski and Calipari."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
STEPHEN GREEN (MADDON)
TOM PENNINGTON/GETTY IMAGES (BRILES)
GREG NELSON FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (STOUDEMIRE)
BRETT CARLSEN/GETTY IMAGES (VITALE)