Cubs

Is Joe Maddon getting in Cardinals’ heads with ‘Try Not To Suck?’

Is Joe Maddon getting in Cardinals’ heads with ‘Try Not To Suck?’

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals appear to be developing a bit of a Cubbie complex, even if Joe Maddon won’t admit he’s in their heads now.

“I did not say that,” Maddon said, trying to suppress a grin near the end of a media session that lasted 20-plus minutes before Wednesday’s rivalry game.

The star manager of the team with the best record in baseball started rolling when a reporter asked if he had heard about the crackdown on “Try Not To Suck” T-shirts at Busch Stadium.

“I’d love to know the definition of why they’re offensive in any way, shape or form,” Maddon said. “Whoever thinks they’re offensive has a dirty mind.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Cardinals will likely relax a ballpark policy that instructs ushers to have fans remove – or turn inside-out – clothing with explicit language. “Sucks” has been on the list of banned words for apparel and signs.       

The blue T-shirts feature Maddon’s iconic glasses and the advice he gave last September to Javier Baez, who went on to hit the big three-run homer in Game 4 at Wrigley Field, helping eliminate the Cardinals from the National League division series. 

How Maddon heard about fans getting hassled at Busch Stadium sounds like an episode from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” one of his favorite TV shows starring his buddy Jeff Garlin. 

“We went to Hooters for some wings and some beer,” Maddon said. “A guy came in with the shirt on – a Cubs fan – and he told me he was denied access at the ballpark.

“I was debating all kinds of methods to combat all that. But then I decided to let it fly and I think the fans are responding. That’s the best way to indicate how foolish it is.”

This series has already seen a Busch Stadium sound system mix-up where classical music played while the Cubs took batting practice. And then it shut down and turned back on when assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske brought out a portable speaker.

Jason Heyward got booed throughout for switching sides in the rivalry – and then had to respond to unconfirmed tweets that fans yelled racial slurs at the $184 million outfielder.

Maddon – who grew up as a Cardinals fan in Pennsylvania’s coal-mining territory and got to meet Hall of Famer Bob Gibson before Tuesday night’s game – thought about wearing the T-shirt on purpose.

“I think it’s much better if the fans make a big deal out of it,” Maddon said. “Let somebody else blow your horn and the sound travels twice as far.”

A reporter sarcastically suggested the Cubs should respond by banning jorts at Wrigley Field.

“I would love to know where the original concept or thought came from, because it’s not a unilateral decision made by an usher,” Maddon said. “It’s got to be an edict among the powers that be here. Was it the mayor of St. Louis? Is it the president?

“It’s interesting. It speaks to the politics of the area a little bit also. I think you have to be careful with that.

“I’d love a full explanation as to why they find it offensive. And I said if you do find it offensive, you really have to dig down deeply and understand why you find that dirty in some way. I’d love to know why it’s dirty. Because that’s what it comes down to – somebody finds it dirty. And I don’t find it that way at all.”

Maddon is still thinking bigger and better, because sales of the T-shirts benefit charities affiliated with the Cubs and the Hazleton Integration Project in his hometown. This free publicity won’t suck.

“If you look it up in the dictionary,” Maddon said, “I think it’s very appropriate to utilize that word in a lot of different moments in our daily adventures. We’re also trying to tone it down a bit for kids. I’m trying to come up with the kids’ version of ‘Try Not To Suck.’

“Actually, for those that are really interested, the ladies’ versions came out today. We have both tank top and a V-neck and they’re fabulous.

“We’re also looking into the potential of doing it in every team’s colors, and that would be kind of interesting to absolutely inundate the market with ‘Try Not To Suck’ T-shirts.”

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

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AP

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers 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.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

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USA TODAY

Yu Darvish back on the DL for Cubs with triceps tendinitis

Yu Darvish now has more trips to the disabled list in a Cubs uniform than wins.

The Cubs place their 31-year-old right-handed pitcher on the DL Saturday evening with right triceps tendinitis. The move is retroactive to May 23, so he may only have to miss one turn through the rotation.

In a corresponding move, Randy Rosario was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to provide Joe Maddon with another arm in the bullpen. Tyler Chatwood will start Sunday in Darvish's place.

Thanks to two off-days on the schedule last week, the Cubs should be fine with their rotation for a little while. Jon Lester could go on regular rest Monday, but the Cubs would need to make a decision for Tuesday given Kyle Hendricks just threw Friday afternoon.

That decision could mean Mike Montgomery moving from the bullpen to the rotation for a spot start, or it could be the promotion of top prospect Adbert Alzolay from Triple-A Iowa.

Either way, this is more bad news for Darvish, who has had a rough go of it since he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in February.

Between issues with the weather, the concern of arm cramps in his debut in Miami, leg cramps in Atlanta, a trip to the disabled list for the flu, trouble making it out of the fifth inning and now triceps tendinitis, it's been a forgettable two months for Darvish.

He is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA, 1.43 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 40 innings with the Cubs.

Over the course of 139 career starts, Darvish is 57-45 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and has averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings.