When the Cubs were on the brink of defeat in the World Series last fall, his coaching staff went looking for help.
Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn't believe in curses, but he is downright superstitious. In 2015, he didn't change his socks during a Cubs winning streak. He grew a beard last season because other Chicago-based title-winning managers had facial hair. He said there was "magic" in Kyle Schwarber's still-healing ACL, and encouraged his team to rub the knee.
And when the Cubs were on the brink of defeat in the World Series last fall, his coaching staff went looking for help. They found it in Dick Howser, Chuck Tanner and Earl Weaver.
Howser managed the 1985 Kansas City Royals, who overcame a 3-1 deficit in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Tanner's 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates also rallied from a 3-1 hole to knock off the Orioles in the World Series. Earl Weaver's 1970 Orioles ... well, they took down the Cincinnati Reds in five games for their second championship.
Call it revisionist history, alternative facts or just a fondness for the Orioles' Hall of Famer. The ruse worked. As Maddon recalled on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on Monday night, Cubs first base coach Brandon Hyde printed out photographs of the three managers as the club headed into Game 5.
"All managed teams that came back to win the World Series after trailing three games to one," Gumbel said — incorrectly — in a voiceover during the episode. "So Maddon channeled them after filling out his lineup cards before Games 5, 6 and 7, hoping a little of their luck would rub off on him."
We see Maddon's re-enactment of the voodoo: He literally rubs his lineup cards against the mug shots of the three managers, like he's some tarot card reader in a dimly lit carnival sideshow.
"We'd have to do a couple of wipes on the boys," he explained.
Gumbel, sitting across Maddon, laughs. Because it's ridiculous.