Editor's note: Please welcome Dustin Hull, our newest addition to the writing staff. Some of Dustin's great work can be found at Bleacher Report, FrontOfficeBlogs.com, and ESPN's SportsNation; click here for his full bio.
He drinks wine after each of his team's wins; he has fit into any scene, from Pennsylvania to California; He is respected by everyone in the game; He is the most interesting manager in the world.
Call him unorthodox, unconventional, or just straight-up crazy, but Rays manager Joe Maddon makes great things happen.
His methods of mass confusion were in full effect earlier this week, when he chose to bat Carlos Pena (batting .209 at the time) to hit leadoff. Pena delivered with a towering, slump-busting home run, further proving that in Maddon's universe, there is no barrier to what he can pull-off.
Maddon is the man who once intentionally walked a run in just to avoid having to pitch to Josh Hamilton late in a game. Maddon is the manager who alignes his defense in massive shifts on several occasions for lefty hitters. He is a man that will not, and recently has not been able to, have the same lineup from one night to the next.
What do all of those things have in common? Well, they've all worked. The fact that the 58-year-old from Hazleton, Pennsylvania has won, not one, but two AL Manager of the Year awards is a testament to how bright and innovative he has been since taking over the Rays in 2006.
Ever since the first day he grabbed the reigns to direct this franchise, not a single player has been objective to his unique way of trying to get the best out of the team.
He's been put to the test this season, after the Rays reached the double-digit mark of players on the disabled list. Enter Drew Sutton, a Joe Maddon kind of guy, who was picked-up from Pittsburgh almost immediately after arriving there from Atlanta.
After being traded for on Monday, Sutton is already making a big impact in the lineup, and even batted in the clean-up spot on Wednesday. Sure, it was odd seeing him slotted 4th for the first time in his MLB career, but with Joe Maddon, there is no such thing as a surprise.
And that's what makes Joe Maddon who he is. In order for the Rays to be as successful as they can be, there must be a witty individual moving players around like chess pieces.
Lucky enough for the Rays, they have a philosophical genius, who makes moves that look first to be bizarre, only to see them turn out exceptional in result.
It's what makes Joe Maddon different from any other skipper, what makes him the most interesting manager in the world. What could be next?