Wether you believe it or not, Joe Maddon is the reason the Rays are tied in this Wild Card race with 2 games to play. I have already wrote about how Maddon's unconventional style of baseball makes him one of the best skippers in the game. But there is one specific thing he does that fuels this team's miraculous comeback. It's the approach that the Rays have before every single game; that every game is an important game. The truth is, that a team that feels panic and pressure can never pull off a comeback like the Rays have. When the Rays play, they focus only on the game they're playing and never about the future or what other teams do. For the Rays, they could care less about the multiple playoff circumstances and the status of their competitors. That brings up one of the main reason for the Red Sox's Wild Card collapse.
The Red Sox have done the complete opposite. Boston doesn't have the same kind of mental focus throughout every single game, like the Rays do. Once they lose a string of games, their low confidence-level hurts them. That's been the story of Boston for the whole month. The pressure has got to them to the point where they forgot how to play quality baseball. It's something that happens to teams every season, and Boston is making it historical this year. So how does this make coach Maddon an important factor in this run? This is because Joe Maddon is basically the mind of the team. The whole thinking process that I mentioned before, is all Maddon's influence. His calm demeanor rubs off on the young players the Rays bring up every season, which puts them in the right direction. That's why I think Maddon really defines the manager role, and is a perfect representation of how important managers are in this league. "The Comeback", which I will label the Rays late run from now on, is a collective team effort. But if you had to pick one guy- or the X-Factor"- off all this, it would have to be Joe. If the Rays can pull off this remarkable comeback, it would just be the icing on the cake for his great reputation. It's safe to say at this point that he's definitely deserving of the AL Manager of the Year Award. Let me know if agree or disagree, click this link to vote.