Cubs

Joe Maddon on Chicago tobacco ban: 'I'm not into over-legislating the human race'

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Joe Maddon on Chicago tobacco ban: 'I'm not into over-legislating the human race'

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon manages his team with an anti-rules philosophy that allows Cubs players to be themselves. No dress code. Grow your beard and your hair as long as you want. Just show up on time and play hard.

So you could predict how Maddon would react to Chicago’s push to ban smokeless tobacco at the city’s ballparks and arenas.  

“I’m into personal freedoms,” Maddon said Wednesday at Surprise Stadium. “I don’t quite understand the point with all that. Just eradicate tobacco, period, if you’re going to go that route. I’m not into over-legislating the human race. 

“I stopped chewing tobacco about 15 years ago. I’m glad that I did, because I think I feel better because of it. I know the pitfalls. But I’m into (educating) the masses and let everybody make their own decisions.

“Inherently, that’s what I’m about – (not telling) me what I can and cannot do as an adult.” 

The City Council news broke before the Cubs played the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals in Arizona. Chicago will raise the legal age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. The city will also tax products beyond cigarettes, like cigars and chewing tobacco.     

“You don’t want your Little League kid to do that,” pitcher John Lackey said after throwing five sharp innings and allowing two runs in a 10-0 loss. He gestured toward his son wearing a No. 41 Lackey jersey in the visiting clubhouse. “I don’t want him to do it. I don’t do it personally. But grown men should have their own choices. 

“People in the stands can have a beer, but we can’t do what we want? That’s a little messed up.”  

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Cubs fans!]

Boston and San Francisco are among the big-league cities imposing similar measures, with tobacco products banned at Fenway Park beginning April 1 and the Giants about to begin their first season at AT&T Park under the new law. 

Maddon said he used to dip and chew, but finally stopped around 2000, at the urging of his kids. Stuffing Bounty paper towels in his mouth helped him quit.    

“It comes down to telling me what I can and cannot do,” Maddon said. “If it’s illegal, then I can’t do it, I get it. But don’t try to make choices for me. Like a couple years ago – (when) they made it so you couldn’t serve a certain-size soda pop in New York City – come on.

“When everybody else thinks that they know what’s good for me, I don’t appreciate that.”      

Veteran catcher Miguel Montero, who originally signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, has been hooked since playing in the minor leagues, where tobacco products are technically banned. 

The Major League Baseball Players Association allowed for certain concessions – like not using tobacco during pre- and postgame TV interviews – without agreeing to total prohibition in the labor deal that expires after this season.

The Chicago measure becomes law 90 days after passage, according to a City Council spokesman, with a $250 minimum fine for a first violation, a $500 fine for the second violation and at least a $2,500 penalty for each additional violation that occurs within one year of the first offense.      

“(This) probably will help me to quit, because it’s a really bad habit,” Montero said. “We’ll probably have to get a lot of nicotine gum instead. It’s going to be hard, because you’re an addict, pretty much. It’s going to be tough to quit cold turkey. Hopefully, I can quit.” 

Montero smiled at the group of reporters standing by his locker.

“I’m probably going to be a little bit moody,” Montero said, “so I probably won’t want to talk to you guys sometimes.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 37th 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.

Sosa's 37th homer of the 1998 season was a big one, an opposite field blast off the front row of fans in right field and into the basket at Wrigley Field.

The eighth-inning 3-run shot gave the Cubs some insurance in a game they ultimately won 9-5 and the Wrigley faithful responded by throwing a bunch of trash on the field.

Earlier in the contest, Sosa tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth inning. He finished with 4 RBI, giving him 93 on the season with more than 2 months left to play.

Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero was the Expos' No. 3 hitter for this game an dhe also hit a homer (his 20th). Now, Guerrero's son is nearing his MLB debut as a top prospect in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

Fun fact No. 2: Mark Grudzielanek - who later played for the Cubs in 2003-04 - was Montreal's No. 5 hitter for the game at Wrigley. He was traded 10 days later from the Expos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for another fellow Cub - Ted Lilly.

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

The Cubs and Orioles reliever Zach Britton are once again being linked to each other, according to Patrick Mooney of the Athletic

Despite the front office denying any big moves coming before the July 31st deadline, but the Cubs' interest in Britton from last year makes this one with the Orioles stick a bit more. And when taking a look at Britton's fit on the club, a deal involving the lefty-reliever makes too much sense not to be true. 

And according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Orioles are trying to wrap up the trade in the next few days. 

The Cubs did add reliever Jesse Chavez earlier this week, but Chavez profiles more as a swingman and less of the late-inning arm Britton has been over his eight-year career. Due to injuries, Zach Britton isn't the guy who teams saw dominant in '15 &'16 when he saved a combined 134 games for the Orioles. 

However, his 2018 numbers are encouraging for a guy coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon with a 3.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14.2 IP. And when you factor in the pedigree the Cubs would be adding to the back end of the bullpen on top of his expiring deal at the end of 2018, it would make the Cubs bullpen lethal in the postseason. 

There will be other suitors for Britton who could likely offer more in terms of prospects in return, but if the Cubs are serious about adding someone like Britton, they could always dip into their MLB roster and part with a Victor Caratini-type player. Infielder David Bote has also impressed with his surprise season, showing he can contribute in multiple roles. 

But the Cubs would be solving essentially two issues with one guy in Britton, with his ability to close and experience in late-inning situations while also replacing Mike Montgomery in the bullpen, who may be staying in the rotation longer than expected. He's also an upgrade over Brian Duensing, who has been ineffective this season, and Randy Rosario who seems more like smoke and mirrors and has never pitched in the postseason. 

Jed Hoyer did say earlier this week the Cubs will be adding depth before the trade deadline, but the asking price for arguably the best available reliever remaining on the market could end up being too rich for the Cubs to stomach. But it clearly won't stop them from at least weighing all options.