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As Joe Maddon sees it ...

New Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon has a different way of looking at things. Here is his take on a few interesting topics:

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published April 2, 2006

The Rays' long record of failure:

"The past means nothing to me, honestly. Every long journey begins with the first step, and our first step is to change things around here. Truly, what's happened in the past - I never want to use the phrase I don't care - but I really don't because it doesn't matter. The way we're doing things here to me feels normal. I see all positives. I see good stuff. I see guys that care. I see the right things. I have nothing to compare it to here, and I don't want anything to compare it to. I just know I like the flavor right now."

The challenge of turning it around:

"I think it's a great opportunity. I cut my teeth in player development and I can see what's going on here. In the mid '80s with the Angels in the minor leagues, we were viewed the same way: nothing happening here, they're always acquiring their talent, trading away good young kids. All that stuff.

"But the class of '84 was a great class, and it started to build from there. Between '84 and '94 I was told the Angels produced more major-leaguers out of their farm system than anyone. If they were not No. 1 they were near No. 1, and that's a testament to scouting and player development.

"So my point is, I've seen good young athletes become very good major-league players. And this team for me is as talented ... as that young group I worked with way back when with the Angels, and we eventually won a World Series. I'm talking about skill levels, I'm talking about heart and makeup, about want-to, about all those things. And there are some similarities here."

The 8-ounce glass that has 4 ounces in it:

"It's half full all the time. It's so easy to be negative. Cynicism, sarcasm, all those qualities pretty much permeate our society today. I think it's much more difficult for a lot of people not to be that way. It's easy to be that way. It's difficult sometimes to see the good. It is. But I think you've got to look for it."

Asking why, or why not:

"I'm more into the "why not?' When you ask the question "why?' all the time I think you almost feel like you're undeserving or you're expecting something bad to happen. Why? Why is this thing happening? But I'm looking at why not. Why can't the D-Rays be a force in the American League East this year? Why not? I know on appearance people are going to argue with that and stomp on that, but why not? Why can't we accelerate the curve here. Why not?"

The Tampa Bay area:

"People run way too many red lights. It's the red-light runningest city I've ever been in. That really stands out. I really like it. I really like where I live - the south Tampa area. I find it very exhilarating and interesting. Your beaches are magnificent. They're different. I think the topography in general is unique. Just driving over the bridge in the morning (coming to St. Petersburg), I'm looking at this whole thing saying this is a unique place and a beautiful place. I've described it as an urban paradise, and it is. If somebody developed this huge dehumidifier that encompassed the entire area, you wouldn't have enough space. There'd be so much vertical living because there wouldn't be any land left."

This juncture in his career:

"It's a very interesting moment. My main concern is that I remain consistent. I keep telling myself that. When you're dealing with as many people as I am right now, they're relying on my consistency. They're relying on me that if I say something to them that I mean it and that I back it up and that I don't become, even without realizing it, contradictory. That to me would be devastating. If there's anything I want to be right now, it's consistent in my approach."

[Last modified April 2, 2006, 01:24:20]

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