ST. PETERSBURG -- Some nights the Rays look like the best hitting team in baseball, while other nights they look like they've never swung a bat.
In other words, offense is not something Joe Maddon can count on having on a daily basis. So what can the Rays manager depend on getting consistently from his team?
"I'd like to believe it's defense," Maddon said. "I'd like to believe that a part of our game that will be consistent every day is the defense. I'd like to believe our running game, too, but you have to get people on base.
"A lot of why we haven't been able to do anything [running] is because nobody has been on base, so you can't really do anything."
Maddon also pointed out that getting a lead makes it easier to be able to take chances on the bases.
"Getting ahead is really a big component in this series," Maddon said.
Maddon proud of organization's farm system
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Joe Maddon spent most of his professional career serving in various capacities in the Angels' farm system. Given the background of the Rays manager, Maddon was asked if he appreciated the balance Tampa Bay's organization has achieved, particularly by winning and developing talent in light of the many challenges of operating that way.
"Honestly, it's very gratifying to see all that, and believe me, I thought about that before I came here," Maddon said. "Having been on a Minor League run for so many years and having been a part of some really good stuff that occurred on the Angels in the mid '80s that eventually led to the '90s, which eventually led to the team you see there today, we really turned it over, I thought, with some great players and staff members.
"So when you see what we're doing today, it's not just about being here in this particular moment, but it's about the entire picture with scouting -- developmentally speaking, the kind of organization we have to be, and that's who we are. We have to rely on all these different sources and not just go out and spend an exorbitant amount of money to make up [for mistakes]. We have to be right as often as possible, which I love. I really love the pure form."
Maddon pointed out he is a big Branch Rickey "disciple."
"I've read a lot about his stuff, about what he did in the early [years] as he began with the Cardinals and moved onto Dodgers, and eventually the Pirates and how he did things," Maddon said.
"Really, I mean, we're accused of being a little bit progressive, but at the end of the day, we're very basic. We're very basic. We're very much like that in regards to what we want. We want to be that team that is consistent from rookie ball through the Majors Leagues -- that if somebody were to get hurt, we could replace him from within the system. And we want to play a particular style or brand of baseball, and that's what we're trying to do."
Rays bond with tacos, Rolling Stones
ST. PETERSBURG -- Do wins create the mood, or does the mood create wins? When it comes to the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Joe Maddon truly thinks it is a little bit of both.
Clearly, the Rays entered Tuesday's Game 5 of the American League Division Series in a far more jovial mood then they were both before and after the losses in Games 1 and 2. Maddon thinks his team's lost enthusiasm played a part in the lack of results earlier in the series.
"We were just too quiet early," Maddon said. "I couldn't understand it, why we were so quiet. That's not who we are. So we're a little bit louder now and I like that, so I have a pretty good feeling about us playing a good game tonight."
In many ways, the personality of the Rays is similar to the one displayed by Maddon. He is loose and energetic and likes his team to be the same way.
To inspire some more togetherness in the hours leading up to Game 5, Maddon brought them some snacks.
"I brought a bunch of tacos in today to just get them together, so they're eating tacos today and having good conversation," Maddon said. "They've been good. They've been really good since we got off the deck in Texas. We had the big inning late in that third game, and they've been chirping a lot better. I like their interaction a lot better."
Maddon tried to get himself into a good place leading up to Game 5 by listening to one of his favorite bands -- The Rolling Stones.
"[I] went right to the Stones, man, real loud, as soon as I walked in today. [It] felt really good [and] gets you in the right zone," said Maddon. "[I] actually printed out the lyrics for 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' for John Jaso. We had a discrepancy on one of the verses, and he was right. [Jaso] might be about 20 some years old, but he's really good at ancient music. He's really good."
Maddon hoped by the end of the night, the Stones would be blaring in the clubhouse again -- serving as celebratory music for a trip to the American League Championship Series.