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.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

bryant_thumb.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

This has been the offseason of Kris Bryant rumors and with his grievance still unresolved Cubs fans can only speculate what will happen to the MVP. Is Kris Bryant trying to change the system like Curt Flood did? Host David Kaplan is joined by ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers to discuss Bryant's future as a Cub, and the lackluster offseason the Cubs have had.

(1:50) - Why the Cubs have not made any moves so far

(3:32) - Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

(6:26) - Cubs need upgrades, specifically in the bullpen

(9:10) - Will the Cubs make a big move before the season starts?

(11:30) - Does Javy Baez get the big extension?

(14:45) - Will the Cubs get to 86 wins this year?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

steven_souza.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are reportedly close to a deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions.

Souza had a career year with the Rays in 2017, slashing .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+. Those figures were career-bests for Souza, minus his batting average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than the MLB average (23).

The signing of Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

Assuming he stays healthy, Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. He’ll add power to the middle of the order and add a proven bat to an outfield with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another bat in case those two slump again.