Cubs

How 'Try not to suck' became the rallying cry for Joe Maddon and the 2016 Cubs

How 'Try not to suck' became the rallying cry for Joe Maddon and the 2016 Cubs

It's been almost five months since T-shirts became another chapter in the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.

Korked Baseball suddenly found itself embroiled in a minor controversy as Busch Stadium ushers wouldn't let Cubs fans enter wearing the "Try not to suck" Cubs T-shirts in St. Louis because of the perception the phrase was offensive.

Joe Maddon used his platform through the Chicago media to question the decision of the Busch officials, and the Cardinals eventually relaxed and decided to allow the T-shirts into the ballpark.

And thus the "Try not to suck" campaign had found all the fuel it needed and the fire is still burning strong as the Cubs invade Busch Stadium again Monday night.

"No better publicity than being denied to wear it in a particular ballpark," Maddon said. "I thought that was great. The moment I heard about it, I said, 'Man, the sales are going to jump really good from that particular moment."

It was back in January when the slogan started to take shape as a fan asked Cubs infielder Javy Baez at Cubs Convention what advice Maddon gave when Baez made his season debut in September 2015:

"Try not to suck," was Baez's answer, prompting an uproar inside the jam-packed Sheraton Grand Chicago ballroom. 

"I remember him sitting there in that little office in the old clubhouse," Maddon said, "and he's sitting there right across the desk there and just trying to loosen him up a little bit. I knew about his past - I got to know him; I went to see him down in Puerto Rico a couple years ago - and I just wanted to try and relax him a little bit.

"That's what that's all about. We all, as professionals, one of the main things you do on a daily basis is try not to embarrass yourself. So how do you do that? By trying not to suck.

"Take it with a light heart. ... I want them to just go out there and play like they're in Little League. Like a bunch of kids having a good time. Don't worry about making mistakes."

[WATCH: How The Hazleton Way shaped Joe Maddon]

After Baez made that snapshot story public at Cubs Convention, Cubs hitting coach John Mallee and Korked Baseball co-founder Joe Ferro (who puts on hitting clinics with Mallee around the country over the winter) decided to take that catchy phrase and create a T-shirt.

Maddon and the Cubs players sported the T-shirts in spring training and the public ate it up.

The Korked guys created an entire series of "Maddonisms," including "Do simple better," "Embrace the target" and "If you look hot, wear it."

"The website officially launched on March 4 and on March 6, the entire Cubs team was wearing the 'Try not to suck' shirt," Korked co-founder Jacob Chandler said. "It just skyrocketed. We didn't expect to do half of what we've done this year. It's just blown up.

"It's raised a lot of money for [Maddon's] charity, which is really the biggest thing we're pushing for - raising money for other charities."

Check out the entire collection on KorkedBaseball.com, which helps raise money for Maddon's Respect 90 foundation.

Sounds like Bryce Harper hasn't closed the door on returning to Nationals in free agency

Sounds like Bryce Harper hasn't closed the door on returning to Nationals in free agency

Bryce Harper could be playing in his final week of games as a Washington National as the 25-year-old superstar as about to become a free agent for the first time in his young career. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post was able to speak to Harper as he started to clean out his locker at Nationals Park wondering out loud whether or not this would be his last time in the Nationals' home locker room. 

 “If I walk into Nats Park as a visiting player?” Harper said Monday afternoon, sitting at that double locker in the prime spot, just off the entrance to the shower. “That’s weird. And who wants to see that? That’s really weird.”

The Bovada odds were released last week, as all signs point towards Harper leaving his current club to team up with fellow Las Vegas-native Kris Bryant and the Cubs this winter. And while the odds-makers are expecting Harper to bid farewell to Washington, Harper doesn't seem like he's quite ready to move on. 

“I think about other cities, but I love it here,” Harper said. “Am I in the plans, you know? I don’t know. It’s hard to think about because it’s all you know, and then you think about it, it’s like, ‘Well, it could all be over in a,’” and here, he snapped his fingers, “ ‘a second.’ It’s kind of crazy.”

Harper goes on to talk about how he grew up with the Nationals and how he's reluctant to leave something he knows. But, the Nationals are in one of the big markets in terms of baseball landscape, and can't quite offer the things the Cubs would that come along with playing in Chicago. And it sounds like the most important thing for Harper is being truly wanted. 

He kept saying he wants to be apart of the plan in Washington, but what he's leaving out is the price-tag that will come along with any team attempting to persuade the superstar outfielder to play for them. Washington likely won't be able to match some of the anticipated record-breaking deals expected to come Harper's way, which opens the door for teams like the Cubs. 

We're still about a month away from Bryce Harper and Manny Machado dominating the baseball conversations this off-season, but once the 2018 season comes to an end, expect the Cubs to make Harper a priority this winter. 

How both the Cubs and Cardinals could pop champagne at Wrigley Field on Friday

How both the Cubs and Cardinals could pop champagne at Wrigley Field on Friday

The Cubs face-off with their hated rival Cardinals this weekend as both clubs enter this week in position to nab a postseason spot. The Cubs are only five wins away from winning their 3rd straight NL Central division title while the Cardinals are clinging onto the final Wild Card spot in the NL. And with both teams gearing up to finish the season playing each, Gordon Wittenmyer from the Chicago Sun-Times broke down a scenario where the Cubs and Cardinals clinch Friday night. 

This scenario relies on the Cubs winning Friday night against the Cardinals, who have been a pesky thorn in the side of the Cubs winning 9 of the 16 meetings this season. But if the Cubs are able to prevail Friday, it would give both the Cubs and Cardinals the chance to celebrate at Wrigley Field, while also making the final two games of the season just rest days for the starters. 

As weird as it would be to see both the Cubs and Cardinals celebrating a postseason birth, I'm sure fans wouldn't mind the Cardinals have their moment as long as it means the Cubs are partying as well. Of course, all that partying would have to be done either late Friday night or Saturday because the Cubs and Cardinals play at 1:20 pm on Friday whereas Colorado plays at 7:10 pm.