Cubs

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny took a thinly-veiled shot at the Cubs and Joe Maddon

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny took a thinly-veiled shot at the Cubs and Joe Maddon

MESA, Ariz. - Joe Maddon and the Cubs cornered the market on T-shirts last year.

They even had their own T-shirt provider (Korked baseball) that supplied the apparel for all of Maddon's phrases, from "Try not to Suck" to "Embrace the Target" and on and on.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny certainly was aware, especially as the "Try not to Suck" shirts were banned from Busch Stadium in St. Louis last year for being too vulgar (which created a stir in its own right).

So when asked by St. Louis media Wednesday about the Cardinals' 6-0 record at home in the Grapefruit League, Matheny joked, "I think we have T-shirts somewhere that say something about winning at home."

Upon just reading the quote, it doesn't seem like that much of a shot at the Cubs, but St. Louis Post-Dispatch Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold draws the parellel between Matheny's comment and the Cubs' affinity for T-shirts:

No, the Cardinals don't actually have T-shirts about winning at home.

I pointed out to Matheny that it was a double poke and gave him a chance to walk back either prongs of it. The media was there, obviously, but the Cubs -- maybe he didn't mean the them. He's got a few players selling T-shirts this season, so maybe it was just a statement on a T-shirt culture.

He just grinned.

Now, the Cardinals were just 38-43 at Busch Stadium last season, a big part of the reason why they finished 86-76 and 17.5 games behind the Cubs.

[RELATED - The Cardinals accidentally trolled themselves, to the delight of Cubs fans]

Ex-Cubs leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler is among the current Cardinals with T-shirt deals in place, as he's revealed over the last few days:

https://twitter.com/DexterFowler/status/839573542853201920 https://twitter.com/DexterFowler/status/839339044156821504

Maddon shrugged off any Cardinals-Cubs drama about the T-shirts, simply saying, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

Maddon also said he would buy Cardinals T-shirts if it helps out any chartiable organizations and took the opportunity to pitch KorkedBaseball.com once again.

The Cubs, meanwhile, have some new T-shirts this year:

And their apparel is not limited to just shirts:

Of course, this all comes almost a year to the day that "Try not to Suck" made its debut:

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: If Cubs somehow miss the playoffs will Joe Maddon's seat start heating up?

David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPN.com) and Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Welington Castillo’s 80-game PED suspension, the Cubs struggles and if Joe Maddon could be on the hot seat if the Cubs somehow miss the playoffs in 2018.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: