The former Angels bench coach came very close to having a chance to end baseball's second-longest championship drought.
Maddon, who spent 30 years in the Angels organization — 18 as a minor league player, coach, manager, roving instructor and scout and 12 as a big-league coach — interviewed for the
The Red Sox were coming off a disappointing loss to the
So he hired Terry Francona, who guided the Red Sox to a 2004 World Series win over the
Maddon, the runner-up in Boston, eventually got the Tampa Bay job in 2006 and guided the expansion
Ironically, Maddon's opponent in the Indians dugout will be Francona, who took over in Cleveland in 2013.
In reflecting on that 2003 decision before the Cubs’ 5-0
"In the end, we loved [Joe], but we thought taking over a veteran team in a big market, there would have been some risk involved because he's so unique," Epstein said. "I think it worked out best for both sides.
"Joe could go to Tampa Bay, which was really a petri dish at that time, to try things out, grow into it with young players and blossom. And for us, having Tito, already having been in the big leagues, it worked for both of us."
Epstein said the Maddon he hired before 2015 was essentially "the same guy without the managing pedigree" that he interviewed in 2003.
What stood out in his first interview with the quirky Maddon, who has a passion for cycling, fine wines, good fiction, catchy motivational slogans and spends much of the off-season in a 45-foot recreational vehicle he nicknamed "Cousin Eddie?"
"Just how different he was than anyone else we'd interviewed for a managing job," Epstein said. "His humor, his language, the way his mind works, his mode of transportation. Everything about him is different than everything you'd expect from a managerial candidate."
Maddon is a baseball lifer who has worked in just about every capacity in the game, and he acknowledged those vast experiences — as well as the longing of Cubs fans whose team hasn't played in the World Series since 1945 — in the flood of emotions that hit him in the hour after the Cubs' win Saturday night.
"It's one of those things that it's everything you think it is, but then again, you have to … you need time to really process the entire situation," Maddon said. "You stand on that platform afterwards and you're looking at the ballpark and the fans and the W flags are everywhere, and truthfully, I do think about everybody. I think about the fans and their parents and their grandparents and great-grandparents and everything that's been going on here for a while.
"I think about my coaching staff that gets to go to the World Series. From a financial perspective, that's great for them because coaches at the major league level don't really make that much money. People don't realize that. So I think about them and their families. I think about my wife, Jaye, my kids, my mom back in Pennsylvania, my dad, who wasn't here. It's pretty overwhelming, and it's awesome."