CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon will return to Tropicana Park in Tampa Bay for the first time on Tuesday since leaving as the only manager of the Rays to take them to a World Series.
"Yeah, post-hurricane, the way this has all unfurled with all that had gone on, and things turned out OK," Maddon said Sunday morning. "So that is very helpful. Beyond that, I'm really eager to go back."
Maddon managed in Tampa from 2006 to '14 before opting out of a deal and accepting the same position with the Cubs. The Rays lost the 2008 World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies before Maddon finally broke through and won a ring with the Cubs in 2016. Now he returns to the city of his first job as a big league skipper after he had worked decades in the Angels organization.
"Having broken the ice with the Angels is going to be very helpful going back and visiting with the Rays," Maddon said. "I'm really looking forward to it. ... Looking forward to driving over the Gandy Bridge. I love that. Hopefully I don't get a ticket. It's possible, on the way back (from the ballpark), especially."
His methods in small-market Tampa Bay led to four playoff appearances while playing in a division with heavy spenders like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Maddon lives in the Tampa Bay area in the offseason and is nostalgic about returning to Tropicana Field, located in St. Petersburg, though he's never been shy about its limitations as a ballpark. Despite the success of the Rays, they've never drawn well.
"I've always thought it should have been in Tampa," Maddon said. "They would get upset with me when I would say things like that. It should be on that side (of the water). It should be much easier to get to after work. ... (And) when your game is impacted by the roof; that should never happen."
As for his legacy as a manager, Maddon contemplated one thing as he arrived at Wrigley Field on Sunday before taking on the St. Louis Cardinals.
"The only thing I've focused on regarding my legacy to this point is the fact that I think I've really altered dress codes," Maddon said, only half-kidding. "I always thought the dress code was one of the most absurd things ever invented in Major League Baseball. They would wear all these expensive suits in the hope of winning because they wore an expensive suit.
"I never understood why it was so important to go from a clubhouse, to a bus, to a tarmac, to a plane, to a tarmac, to a bus, to a hotel lobby, to your room and why it was so important to dress up. If I leave any kind of legacy within this game I would be pointed at in regards to changing the dress code."