Bernstein: Joe Maddon, Cubs Can't Live In Past

We don't have to take sides in a useless retroactive debate.

Dan Bernstein
February 12, 2020 - 1:48 pm

(670 The Score) I'd like to skip to the part where everybody involved is over what happened and content to get on with their respective lives.

Sometimes it gets there sooner, like the recent and pleasant return of Joel Quenneville to the United Center, a note-perfect appreciation well-handled by the Blackhawks all the way around. Sometimes it's later and more gradual, like the reacceptance of Mike Ditka by the Bears or the detente that settled between Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox. It can also never quite happen at all, as was the case with the Bulls, where scars eventually formed and something close to resembling kind words only arrived from Phil Jackson toward Jerry Krause in actual postmortem.

Coaching tenures end, even for icons who win titles in Chicago. They then do the same job elsewhere with varying degrees of success.

Related: David Ross: Cubs 'out to prove something'

And so it is for Joe Maddon, who despite every effort made last season to inoculate against such easy and typical recrimination ended up making news Tuesday about his departure from the Cubs. He now admits there were indeed the "philosophical differences" that he had previously dismissed as nonexistent and that he actually knew he and Theo Epstein were growing apart professionally, enough that he wanted to be elsewhere.

Epstein pushed back ever so gently but palpably, disputing Maddon's recollection of the circumstances of the endgame. When Epstein told reporters he would "take the high road" in responding to Maddon's comments, it was his passive-aggressive way of not doing so, instead pointing out what he thinks Maddon himself probably should've done, considering the courtesies extended publicly as the team's fortunes were crumbling around them.

Here's hoping that's the end of it now, but we know better. It's too easy and too right there in front of us for it not to continue as this season commences, the pat juxtaposition of the David Ross Cubs with the Maddon Angels. And Maddon is the perfect combination of generous with his time and availability and keen on self-promotion to provide just enough oxygen to feed it.

We really should try to not live like this, however, processing decisions and subsequent outcomes and commentary through a prism that looks back on what happened and what could or should have been in the minds of the unsatisfied. It all ends up going nowhere and teaching nothing, and we have better things to do.

Maddon's absence will feel less obvious with every day of spring training that elapses and with every mundane conversation Ross holds with gathered reporters that allows us to become similarly inured to his voice. It all moves on.

We don't have to take sides in a useless retroactive debate, once again devolving into factions and absolutes that degrade reasonable conversation while trying to make unprovable and reductive points. Joe Maddon and the Cubs came to an end, the split clearly driven more by executives' desire for change at the position at a time of rapid evolution and uncertainty at different levels of the sport itself, let alone just the Cubs.

Nothing that happens now is ample cause to relitigate what was. We're all better off instead to remember how much fun it was for so long.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.