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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 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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