Revenge of the nerds? Just evolution, Maddon says

Cubs' manager at peace with natural changes to game across generations

Revenge of the nerds? Just evolution, Maddon says

MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon is not thrilled about players who dance in the end zone after touchdowns, but he does love nerds.

The Cubs' manager was asked about comments by Hall of Fame reliever Goose Gossage, who called Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista a "disgrace to the game" for his bat flips and criticized "nerds" for turning baseball into a joke in an interview with ESPN.

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"I'd prefer that our guys would not," Maddon said of taking part in antics after home runs. "I still like when a guy scores a touchdown; he pretty much hands the ball to the ref. After the slam dunk, just go down and play defense. I'm still of that ilk.

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"We -- industry-wide, all the major sports, and what the kids are looking for this day -- it's all about style over substance sometimes," Maddon said. "I understand the time we're living in. I've always prided myself in remaining contemporary. I'm not going to battle it, but I'd prefer we do something else."

And what about the so-called nerds who stress sabermetrics in the front office?

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"My take on that is it's just evolution," Maddon said. "Everything's evolved. In my home in Tampa Bay, I've got several really wonderful high-definition televisions, and I'm so glad we've evolved to the high-def TV. All the classic cars I own, I would never drive them without air conditioning, or disc brakes or power steering. ... It's just the evolution of the world.

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"In regard to professional sports, the things that are available now, if they'd been avaiable in the '40s, I believe without question Mr. [Branch] Rickey would've been all over this stuff, and this would be considered old-school right now."

Maddon said he tries to create a balance between practices favored by "nerds" and what are considered old-school ways, and he said the Cubs' front office is able to do that.

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"I love nerds; I wish I had some nerd-ism in me," Maddon said. "These guys went to school, went to class, wrote their own papers and they did everything right, and all of a sudden they're in a good position to give me some information that I don't have. I'll take it."

Bautista on critical Gossage

Wait -- does that mean Maddon didn't write his own papers?

"I didn't say that," Maddon said. "I just said these guys wrote their own papers."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.