Maddon, Piniella win manager of year awards
NEW YORK -- Joe Maddon had a good reason for interrupting his honeymoon.
About an hour after he landed in Rome, the newly married Maddon easily won the American League Manager of the Year award Wednesday for guiding Tampa Bay from baseball's basement to the World Series in one astonishing season.
Lou Piniella took the NL honor after leading the Chicago Cubs to the league's best record.
Maddon, who succeeded Piniella as Tampa Bay manager in 2006, was a runaway winner in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He received all but one of the 28 first-place votes -- the other went to Minnesota's Ron Gardenhire.
It was a nice wedding gift for Maddon and his wife, Jaye, who got married last weekend. But it meant that one of the first things he did in Italy was get on the phone for a conference call with reporters.
"Jaye is very understanding of the whole situation. We knew this was a possibility," Maddon said. "Truly a remarkable season in so many different ways."
Next stop: the Vatican on Thursday. Then the Sistine Chapel, followed by trips to Florence, Prague and London.
"I really don't think they care about the World Series over here," Maddon said. "It's kind of fun being a tour guide."
Piniella beat out Charlie Manuel of the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies to earn his third Manager of the Year award and first in the NL. The fiery skipper also won in 1995 and 2001 with Seattle.
This time, he got 15 of 32 first-place votes and totaled 103 points to 67 for Manuel, listed first on eight ballots. Florida's Fredi Gonzalez finished third with five first-place votes and 48 points.
"I'm thrilled and I'm honored. I know there were a lot of managers in the National League who had good seasons," Piniella said from his home in Tampa, Fla.
Manager of Year voting
The Rays' Joe Maddon was named the 2008 AL Manager of the Year, while the Cubs' Lou Piniella was voted as the NL's top skipper in '08.
|Ron Gardenhire, Twins||1||15||8||58|
|Mike Scioscia, Angels||--||12||9||45|
|Others receiving votes: Terry Francona, Red Sox, 6; Ozzie Guillen, White Sox, 3; Cito Gaston, Blue Jays, 2.|
|Charlie Manuel, Phillies||8||6||9||67|
|Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins||5||6||5||48|
|Others receiving votes: Joe Torre, Dodgers, 45; Tony La Russa, Cardinals, 11; Jerry Manuel, Mets, 10; Cecil Cooper, Astros, 3; Dale Sveum, Brewers, 1.|
The 65-year-old manager earned a $100,000 bonus for winning, which he plans to donate to the team's charity partner, McCormick Foundation's Cubs Care.
"My good fortune can get spread around a little bit," Piniella said. "The kids in the Chicago area will benefit from this and I'm very happy."
Two other managers garnered first-place votes: Joe Torre of the Los Angeles Dodgers (three) and Tony La Russa of the St. Louis Cardinals (one).
Dale Sveum got a third-place vote after managing only 12 games. He took over the Brewers on an interim basis when Ned Yost was fired in September and went 7-5 down the stretch to help Milwaukee secure its first playoff berth since 1982.
After the season, the Brewers hired Ken Macha to be their new manager. Sveum will return as hitting coach.
Tampa Bay, which started play in 1998, had never won more than 70 games in a season before Maddon engineered an incredible turnaround. With his motivational quotes and phrases, the 54-year-old skipper led a young team that finished in last place a season ago (66-96) to a 97-65 record and the AL East title.
"The toughest part is to absorb the body blows on a consistent basis. I knew what we were doing was right," Maddon said. "We knew we were better, we just didn't know how much better. During the season we found out we could do this, and people started to believe."
Maddon used his versatile bench brilliantly and juggled a much-improved bullpen that lost veteran closer Troy Percival to injury. The stunning success continued in October, when the Rays beat the Chicago White Sox and defending champion Boston Red Sox in the playoffs to capture the AL pennant.
Tampa Bay's run ended with a five-game loss to Philadelphia in the World Series.
"It was all there for us. It was just a matter of time," Maddon said. "It happened a little sooner than I thought."
While Manuel guided the Phillies to their second championship, Piniella and his Cubs (97-64) were swept in the first round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Their three-game loss to the Dodgers was a major disappointment for a franchise still seeking its first World Series title since 1908.
Voting for BBWAA awards is conducted before the postseason.
"Time heals a broken heart, I guess," Piniella said. "Looking back, these kids I think tried a little too hard."
There has never been a unanimous winner for Manager of the Year.
La Russa and Atlanta's Bobby Cox have each won the award four times, the only managers with more than Piniella. Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland also have three.
The BBWAA began presenting Manager of the Year awards in 1983.
Piniella became the fourth manager to win in both leagues, joining Cox, La Russa and Leyland. Previous winners from the Cubs were Jim Frey (1984) and Don Zimmer (1989).
The American League Cy Young Award winner will be announced Thursday, with Cleveland lefty Cliff Lee a heavy favorite.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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