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.
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:
Cubs paying homage to World Series Game 7 and the rain delay with today's shirts. They say "D-peat" on the front. pic.twitter.com/jzmbWQtWoC— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) March 5, 2017
And their apparel is not limited to just shirts:
Cubs players have gotten some new boots: pic.twitter.com/FkJ40l98HE— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) March 7, 2017
Of course, this all comes almost a year to the day that "Try not to Suck" made its debut:
Try not to suck made its official debut 1 year ago today: pic.twitter.com/LUsE49w0VB— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) March 6, 2017