Epstein says Maddon managed Game 7 ‘different’ than usual

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Joe Maddon

Maybe there just aren’t any other questions left to ask now that the Cubs got their long-awaited -answer to that 108-year question two months ago.

Maybe it’s just the last of the pent-up, “long-suffering” ethos of Cubs fandom finding its escape.

Whatever it is, Joe Maddon doesn’t seem to be getting away from it anytime soon.

Think about it: Maddon won a World Series in a Cubs uniform. And yet, fans still wanted to know why he made those pitching moves in Games 6 and 7 and what team president Theo Epstein thought about them.

The first question during Saturday’s front office session with fans was about whether Epstein has the same problem the fans did with Maddon lifting starter Kyle Hendricks with a 5-1 lead after a two-out walk in the fifth inning of

Game 7. Jon Lester took over, two runs scored and eventually a fatigued Aroldis Chapman gave up three runs in the eighth to allow the Indians to tie the game.

“We do kind of manage along with Joe in the stands, and I’ll be the first to say I don’t always agree with everything, but he’s always got a reason for everything,” Epstein said. “Before the game, he had a really strong feeling. The way he saw it going was Hendricks for five or so, Lester for a couple and then Chapman.

“Which is different. Joe usually really makes sure he watches the game. He doesn’t like to set things up. He likes to anticipate all the different scenarios before the game, but he’s really big on watching the game and seeing how the game’s going and then managing the game that he sees, not the game he anticipated.”

Not exactly the strongest defense for the three-time Manager of the Year.

Hendricks was asked about the same thing during his Q&A with fans. He played it modestly, deferring to Maddon’s wisdom and Lester’s playoff experience.

Maddon, of course, was asked about it by a fan, who first spent a lengthy preamble praising the manager before saying, “That being said, Game 7 …”

Even after his schedule was fulfilled, Maddon answered the moves on the lobby set of a radio broadcast, with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg and Leon Durham by his side.

Earlier in the week, Maddon said all the second-guessing after the historic championship made him laugh.

So maybe it’s just a natural outgrowth of the long-suffering Cubs-fan culture.

Or maybe it’s that Maddon sticks so firmly to his defense of his moves that he sometimes seems like the only one unwilling to acknowledge that one or more of them might have been wrong.

“There’s no Game 8,” he said again Saturday in response to the fan. “You can’t play like you play in June or July. You have to be a little bit more proactive.”

Another fan asked Maddon that if Chapman were still with the team, “Would you have asked him to sign 100 autographs [Friday], then do 200 [Saturday] and 300 [Sunday]?”

Maddon hasn’t lost his humor in the criticism made surreal by its championship context.

“He’s in good enough shape to do something like that,” he said.

Epstein admitted, “It looked to me probably like it looked to you at home,” adding that the manager sees a different game from the dugout.

“The bottom line is I’m usually a process-based person, not outcome-based,” he said. “But when you win the World Series I love -being outcome-based.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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