He’s not sure what he can do about it, and he’s not going to “cry” about it. But Cubs manager Joe Maddon plans to lobby against the 3:05 p.m. start times that tend to cause the most disruptions to players’ sleep and work patterns among a slew of alternating game times for his team.
Other teams also deal with the odd start times often created by the demands of TV rights holders. But because of restrictions on night play at Wrigley, nobody else faces as many alternating times as the Cubs.
It adds even more significance to Maddon’s “American Legion Week” against the Braves in this four-game weekend series – a show-up-and-play stretch in which he bans players from the clubhouse and early work before a set time.
On Thursday players weren’t allowed in the clubhouse before 3 p.m. Friday it’ll be 11:30 a.m. Batting practice, which Maddon considered “overrated,” was canceled.
It’s something he has done in past seasons with his Tampa Bay Rays teams as a way to refresh players at a time of the season many are naturally starting to wear down.
The good thing about the large number of different start times, says Maddon, is the potential for players getting used to the often disjointed early-rounds playoff schedule.
“The difference is when you’re in the playoffs you don’t feel it as much,” he said. “In the regular season it tends to be a grind.”
The 3:05 p.m. Friday starts at Wrigley Field were scheduled in recent years after baseball operations lobbied against earlier starts following Thursday night road games and late travel.
From Thursday through Tuesday, the Cubs will play six games at five different start times.
If nothing else, Maddon says the team can do without some of the 3:05 starts when bad turnarounds don’t make them favorable. The problem, he says: Players get accustomed to games in the 1 o’clock and at 6 or 7 p.m., but all the odd starts in between disrupt players’ body clocks and become a burden.
“It’s awkward,” he said. “I’m not going to deny it’s awkward.”
Asked about talking to the business operations decision makers to lobby for change, Maddon said, “I can definitely have that talk with the guys upstairs.
“I don’t have any influence over that right now. I haven’t even tried to influence it.”