SAN FRANCISCO – Since those “Try Not To Suck” T-shirts were outlawed the last time the Cubs invaded Busch Stadium, does Joe Maddon have any plans to escalate the psychological warfare against the St. Louis Cardinals?
“It’s like one day at a time,” Maddon said. “You just never know where the motivation will come from.”
Maddon went on a calculated rant last September in the old Wrigley Field interview room/dungeon, comparing the Cardinals to “The Sopranos” and calling them a vigilante group that throws at hitters. As for that “Cardinal Way” manual, the Cubs manager said he doesn’t “give a crap about that book.”
This won’t exactly be détente when the rivalry renews on Monday night at Busch Stadium. But the understanding is the Cardinals have softened the ballpark policy that instructs ushers to have fans remove – or turn inside-out – clothing with explicit language. “Suck” had been on the list of banned words for apparel and signs, which led to a crackdown last month when Cubs fans showed up in the blue T-shirts.
“There’s a lot of people back there that would look really good in one of those,” Maddon said. “Again, at the end of the day, the concept is it’s for charity. I know that maybe if you’re an adversarial group you can’t necessarily wrap your arms around the thought.
“But the whole concept – besides the slogan and really trying to have our guys understand let’s just go play and don’t worry about making mistakes, etc. – (is) for charity. Now it’s staggering the amount of money we’ve been able to raise already.
“The people in St. Louis – it was just a ballpark thing. They had a hard time with one word – and there’s a lot of provincial methods of thinking – so whatever.”
Of course, all the attention gave one of Maddon’s many side projects a nice boost in sales, though he declined to disclose those numbers.
“The more ballparks that want to prohibit our T-shirt, the better it is for business,” Maddon said. “It’s pretty amazing how we as humans function. The moment it became a little bit prohibitive, it became even more popular.”
For any Cardinals fans looking to boo Jason Heyward, it’s unclear whether or not the $184 million outfielder who chose Chicago over St. Louis will be available for the three-game series. Heyward bruised his right side/rib area on Friday while making an amazing catch and crashing into the right-center field wall at AT&T Park.
After facing San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on Sunday night, the Cubs will get Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez during the final stop of this three-city road trip.
No one knows where or when inspiration might strike Maddon, who clearly enjoys performing in front of the cameras and playing these mind games.
“The point is you have to be ready for the motivation,” Maddon said. “You can’t let the motivation slide. You can’t let it slip through the cracks and then all of a sudden react to it too late. You have to have the antenna out there for the motivation when it arrives. And don’t miss that opportunity.”