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More Maddonisms

If you enjoy baseball wisdom, you will likely be delighted to read about Maddonisms.

Joe Maddon, Angels manager
Joe Maddon, Angels manager
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Good news! I am sharing my recent discovery of more Maddonisms! Let’s look at them.

It’s just up to us the keep banging on the door.

Joe Maddon said, “…making sure we keep trying to do the right things until we get everything rolling in the right direction.” Nevertheless, my view is that better than banging on the door is, “Be Bold!” and enthusiastically exert extra effort to succeed. In either case, even a small improvement is a step toward going through the door.


Nine of us playing together; that means we’ll be in the final eight of the season. It’s a simple idea that motivates.

The Renaissance of individuality.

Joe Maddon said this tells players don’t stray from your strengths. My view is the hard part of the idea is to discover and remember your strengths during the long development process to reach the Majors.

Play like it’s 1985.

Joe Maddon said this means old school mentality.

My view is that old school mentality includes play with your heart as much as your head. It includes rely mainly on your experience and your talents. Although you might know what analytics calls for, you selectively pick what helps you and keep your mind uncluttered by ignoring overwhelming information.

If you hear the word ‘expectation’ or the word ‘pressure’, please run towards it.

Joe Maddon said, “I’ve always preached that to my team.” My view is it merges the previous Maddonisms of embrace the target and run towards to the fire.

The next three Maddonisms were put on an Identity Wall, which he talked about when interviewed by Shanna Schwarze on Utube. Joe Maddon said that things that are most important to the group are put on that wall in urban art style. His players walk by that wall every day.

Believe it and you’ll see it.

This is optimistic and positive thinking in action! Sure, there may be needed adjustments to consistently see results. That doesn’t change this truth.


Stay engaged in all components of the game. There are no unimportant components. Get the signs. Be accountable.

Baseball wise, we are first to third.

When I heard Joe Maddon say this, I was sure I misheard it. And he did not explain it, leaving me to ponder it. I saw the double entendre of two imperatives – be wise about baseball and run from first base to third base.

A deeper meaning starts from remembering what I learned in English class about writing from first person, second person, or third person perspective. A way to apply writing perspectives to baseball follows: Focus on improving self (first person perspective) and focus on baseball data (third person perspective). Don’t focus so much about others, especially don’t blame/credit others for your baseball results (second person perspective).

On 15 September of last season, as part of an Angels-Diamondbacks series preview, my article explained 15 Maddonisms, and listed 7 more for the reader to explore. To put the Maddonisms in one place, that section of the preview is reposted below:

Coaching Wisdom.

The coaches for both teams are facing challenging circumstances. In light of the Diamondbacks falling short of “unbelievable expectations,” Torey Lovullo told his players five things: slow things down, be the best version of yourself, play your best game today, take your best at-bat today, and make your best pitch today.

The coach for the Angels, Joe Maddon, has expressed his philosophy, principles, and ideas. Later, his words are called Maddonisms. Let’s look at some of them.

Core Maddonisms.


Meaning: Energy and enthusiasm increase chances of winning [or accomplishing your goal]. Optimism aligns with energy and enthusiasm. As an optimist, I like his redefinition of winning because winning becomes something I can control. The redefinition’s weakness is its’ simplicity, but Maddon had a related insight.

Do simple better.

Meaning: “…keep the players from overcomplicating their jobs. I don’t want extra work. I don’t want too much information.” – Joe Maddon. The strength of this imperative is that it can be different for each person. For example, do simple better could mean a better way to achieve a mental state that excels at the task. Maddon had an insight on how to reach simplicity.

Process simplifies task.

Meaning: A simple process is repeatable. When that process results in excelling at a task, excellence is repeatable. “…the process needs to be the focus.” – Joe Maddon.

Embrace the target.

Meaning: “I’m really a big believer of running towards the fire as opposed to away from it.” – Maddon. Applying that to myself, my writing is better when I write about how to succeed than when I write about sending Diamondback players to Greenland.

Team Maddonisms

Respect 90.

Meaning: This means more than run hard for 90 feet. On a plane ride in the 90s, Maddon sat next to a lady who said, “Whatever you put out there will come back to you.” The deeper meaning is that when players consistently put out their best effort, good things will happen for the team and the player.

Know we are not perfect, but can be present.

Meaning: Baseball is a game full of failures, even for the best players. Those failures can harm a player’s mindset. Perhaps perfect is the enemy of great. One good mindset is “Although today’s performance was imperfect, it was good enough for today. And I will continue to get better every day.” Another insight is that individual players make mistakes, but sometimes teammates who are present on-the-field can make-up for mistakes.

Meat loaf tastes good.

Meaning: Michael Aday, who calls himself meatloaf, had a 1977 hit song Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad. “They got us, but any time you ‘meat loaf’ the other team in a series, you’ll take it. Meat loaf tastes good all season long. By the end of the season, it might be your favorite meal of all time.” – Joe Maddon

Success Indicator Maddonisms

I love crazy.

Meaning: Sometimes the cost of success includes fanatical and uncompromising pursuit of excellence. Perhaps crazy could be viewed as zealotry, revolutionary, and transcending limits daily. “You have to have a little bit of crazy to be successful. I want crazy in the clubhouse every day. You need to be crazy to be great. I love crazy. I tell my players that all the time.” – Joe Maddon

Expect something.

Meaning: It means more than feeling pressured. Two reasons that Joe Maddon embraces expectations:

  • “strong belief something will happen in the future.” – Joe Maddon
  • “an indicator you are in the right place.” – Joe Maddon

I love funk.

Meaning: When a player is uniquely his best self, it indicates something special. Maddon’s team signed Ben Rowen, who had a funky sidearm delivery. “I’ve always been a funk guy. The funk is good. Whenever you get funk in the bullpen, I like that.” – Joe Maddon

Decision Maddonisms

That’s outcome bias.

Meaning: Don’t obsess with past decisions. Retrospective review of a different action is flawed because you didn’t get to see the result of the different action (you are guessing and there could have been an unexpected outcome). Maddon uses these words to answer critics who second-guess his decisions.

Question data with feel.

Meaning: Balance analytics with the human element. “My point is to move this thing [success of the Angels] forward, I want to create this method that incorporates both.” – Joe Maddon

Forget the book.

Meaning: Generally accepted wisdom is not always the path to winning. “Making the first or third out at third base is okay.” – Joe Maddon

People Maddonisms

Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.

Meaning: The internal joy of performing your best is always more powerful than external expectations.

In our world, for me, every day is Friday night.

Meaning: Celebrate and enjoy every day as special. Be happy because happiness fuels success as explained in the book The Happiness Advantage.

I leave it to you the reader to explore the following Maddonisms.

  • We need to do some work. [to get better]
  • I don’t like it. I love it.
  • I’m not superstitious. I’m just a littlestitious.
  • Try not to suck.
  • If you look hot, wear it.
  • Anxiety lives in the future.
  • Relentless execution of fundamentals.