Sportress of Blogitude

Joe Maddon loved Will Ferrell’s spring training act, John Madden hated it

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For the most part, save for some nattering nabobs of negativity, Funny or Die’s Will Ferrell-led cavalcade through the Cactus League on Thursday was viewed as an amusing aside and a grand time was had by one and all.

It helped both fans and players break up the doldrums of spring training and allowed sports fan Ferrell to live out a dream by playing for 10 major league teams while playing all positions — including a spell as third base coach — sometimes traveling from stadium to stadium via helicopter.

For all intents and purposes, it was a resounding success, especially given it was all part done in partnership with Major League Baseball for an upcoming HBO special to support the fight against cancer, raising a reported $1 million.

Count Joe Maddon among the fans of the enjoyable spectacle. And given the Chicago Cubs skipper is such a staunch baseball traditionalist who does not have the time nor the patience for his players “pimping” home runs, consider his approval of Ferrell’s antics a ringing endorsement.

“If you want to connect to a different generation of baseball fans, maybe it’s important to include part of the pop culture outside of the industry that they’re really into, whether it’s music, whether it’s comedy, whatever it may be to get maybe this ancillary group to become more involved with us,” Maddon observed, via CSN Chicago’s JJ Stankevitz by way of Hardball Talk. “And then that’s jut going to draw the kids in or that younger generation in on top of it. I thought it was brilliant.

“Never thought of it,” Maddon continued. “Perfect time to do it — spring training game, of course, it matters but it doesn’t matter in the bigger picture. But it mattered in the sense that I am certain — I would like to believe it, I would say, pretty strongly that kids who would never watch what would happen in a baseball game watched yesterday because Will Ferrell was involved. And then with Will Ferrell or whomever starts talking more about baseball and gets the kids drawn in through those means, that’s great also. Whoever thought of it, I thought it was brilliant.”

On the opposite side of the spectrum was former NFL head coach and broadcasting legend John Madden, one of those aforementioned nattering nabobs of negativity. Madden hated Ferrell’s antics, arguing it was disrespectful.

“That’s a lack of respect,” Madden said during an interview on KCBS radio (via The Big Lead). “That’s a lack of respect for the game and a [lack of] respect for what players have to do to get where they are.”

Madden went on to relay a story about how when he was coaching the Oakland Raiders, then Golden State Warriors player John Barry wanted to suit up and practice with the team. Madden recalls that he told some players to ” go after him the way you would go after any other player that plays on another team.” Barry ultimately did not put on the pads and practice.

Concerning the respective opinions detailed above regarding Ferrell’s stunt, it’s two vastly differing viewpoints, to be sure. But odds are the opinions of most fall in line with what was expressed by Maddon, not Madden.

(photo credit: Ben Platt / MLB.com, via Cut4)