Cubs-Cardinals: Joe Maddon's had enough of St. Louis after 'second spring training'

Cubs-Cardinals: Joe Maddon's had enough of St. Louis after 'second spring training'

ST. LOUIS – Instead of trolling Cardinals fans with a Snake Plissken eye patch and an "Escape from St. Louis" dress-up theme, Joe Maddon wore sunglasses and a Cubs hoodie to his media briefing late Thursday morning.  

"We're concluding our second spring training," Maddon said, sitting in Busch Stadium's visiting dugout. "We got one in Arizona and we got one in Missouri."

Instead of giving the Cubs the courtesy of getting settled in Chicago — and rescheduling Wednesday's rainout for another mutual off-day — the Cardinals kept the defending World Series champs in St. Louis for a sixth straight night.      

"Yesterday concluded my week in the Four Seasons health spa," Maddon said. "I got a workout in every day. I got a steam in every day. I got a Jacuzzi in every day. And I got a nap in every day. So after going seven weeks of spring training with one day off, basically, you get three off in a week here in St. Louis. It's just the insanity of what we do."

Maddon apparently didn't find any inspiration on TripAdvisor. 

"Didn't really go out often," Maddon said. "We went out one night to Carmine's and I was considering The Hill last night, but could not motivate myself at all. So I went and ordered off the kids' menu – grilled cheese and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and club soda. So I had a big night."

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Maddon did notice the stretches of sunshine on Wednesday in St. Louis and how the rain stopped long enough for the Cubs and Cardinals to probably play Game 3.   
"It appears that way, yeah," Maddon said. "The information all indicated that it was going to rain heavily all day, and everybody made their best guess, which I appreciated, because the worst thing to do is hang around all day — game started, game stopped, game started, game stopped — and that's what it read like. 

"The intel we got was that it was going to pour all day. It's an imperfect science regarding weather prediction. Yeah, I'd rather have a day off in Chicago, no question. But that was the call and I'm good with it."
It only took two games — a walk-off loss and a one-run win — to show that the Cubs have the Cardinals' attention and the rivalry still creates drama and excitement.   

"They've been definitely intense games," Maddon said. "I'd like it to be, in essence, Game 163, 164, from the end of last season. I want us to always play the same game. I've talked about that from Day 1. So if you're feeling the same game, that's good. That's a good thing. I don't want to differentiate between games in April or August or September. 

"I've always been amused by the fact: ‘Well, it's early, it's April.' They don't count as point-five. They count as one-plus or one-minus. It's the same game. And I want our guys to be able to react in that way.

"There's only one variable right now – a week in a hotel in St. Louis. That's not easy. People have to understand you're totally out of your routine at that point."

Yadier Molina is sad and Cubs fans have a new favorite GIF

Yadier Molina is sad and Cubs fans have a new favorite GIF

ST. LOUIS — The game was over and Yadier Molina knew it.

As Ian Happ turned on Sam Tuivailala's two-strike pitch in the 7th inning, Molina crumbled to the ground in defeat.

Happ's two-out double gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead they did not relinquish in a 6-3 victory Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

The Cubs had to claw back all night against the Cardinals, fighting to tie the game at two separate spots before Happ's breakthrough off Tuivailala.

Molina couldn't contain his disappointment:

Molina is a common target of ire from Cubs fans in the heated rivalry with the Cardinals, so you can bet his #SadFace led to some glee in the Chicago fanbase (just look at the comments on that Tweet):

The 35-year-old catcher just returned recently from a nearly month-long stint on the disabled list when he took a foul tip off a Kris Bryant swing to the groin on Jordan Hicks' 102 mph pitch the last time the Cubs were in town.

Molina has drawn 3 walks and has a single in this weekend's series with the Cubs, but he also committed a miscue in Friday's game, when he threw wild to first base on Jon Lester's squeeze bunt.

The Cubs are now 24-12 since they were swept in St. Louis on the first weekend of May.

Summer of Sammy: Relive Sosa's 25th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Relive Sosa's 25th homer 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.

After victimizing poor Cal Eldred for three solo shots in the first game of the series, Sosa wouldn't let the Milwaukee Brewers leave town in June 1998 without one more dinger.

He connected in the 4th inning of the series finale on June 17, 1998, a solo shot off a pitcher named Bronswell Patrick (yes, that's his real name) that went 430 feet down the left field line.

The Cubs wound up losing the game 6-5, though Jose Hernandez did make it close with a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Through this game, Sosa sported a .300/.348/.917 slash line (1.265 OPS) with 12 homers and 25 RBI in 15 June contests that season. (Yes, that's a .917 slugging percentage.)

But believe it not, those June numbers are about to get even better...

Fun fact: The Cubs lineup on June 17, 1998 featured 4 hitters with a batting average of .320 or higher — Sosa (.333), Mark Grace (.347), Mickey Morandini (.320) and Matt Mieske (.323), though Mieske was a part-time player. 

The 2018 Cubs currently feature only 1 player (part-time or full-time) hitting at least .320: Albert Almora Jr. who entered play Saturday at .321.