Cubs

Joe Maddon lets Cubs lay down the law in clubhouse

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Joe Maddon lets Cubs lay down the law in clubhouse

MESA, Ariz. — The Adam LaRoche retirement drama will either bring the White Sox clubhouse together or tear that franchise apart.

Trying to end a bizarre story that’s drawn worldwide attention, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf gave a vote of confidence to his baseball leadership team on Sunday, releasing a statement that wrote off the LaRoche situation as a misunderstanding.

Reinsdorf also issued a gag order to all White Sox employees, telling them to stop commenting on the LaRoche decision and extending a news cycle that has the rest of the industry talking.

Right around the same time, Cubs manager Joe Maddon met with his “Lead Bulls,” a group of about 12 established players, to reinforce everything from the dress code (“if you think you look hot, you wear it”) to rules for kids in the clubhouse (out of the room three hours before game time).

[MORE CUBS: Jake Arrieta already feels locked in after Cy Young season]

Maddon believes White Sox manager Robin Ventura – a calm presence and a universally respected player who’s now in the final year of his contract – will guide his team through this media storm.

“Your focus wants to be on getting your team ready to play the season,” Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. “And then you get the noise coming from different directions, it can be distracting, there’s no question about it.

“We’re not focused on them. We have our own way of doing things here. I would never want to interfere with anybody else’s clubhouse or their organization. That’s up to them.

“But I just know from (Robin’s) perspective, it’s got to be distracting. But I also believe he’ll do a great job with it, because that’s who he is.”

The 15 minutes of fame is just about up for Drake, LaRoche’s 14-year-old son who constantly hung around the team and had his own locker before White Sox executive vice president Kenny Williams intervened (either unilaterally or on behalf of others inside the organization bothered by the workplace arrangement).

At the age of 62, Maddon knows who he is and understands what is important to him. Modern players will begin to tune out a lot of that stuff, anyway, if you try to lay down the law.

“Back in the day, when you’re a minor-league manager, you put all these rules up on the wall,” Maddon said. “And then you have the organization stuff (where the) hair is at a certain length and no facial hair. And if you can’t have an earring, take it out and then put it back in after the game.

“I’m here to manage the team, not make rules. So I learned my lesson with that – to not get nuts about it. Furthermore, it’s just counter to what I am inherently as a person.”

[SHOP: Get your gear before the 2016 season, Cubs fans!]

Maddon expects his veteran players to police the clubhouse and believes he will get more accountability by including his players in the process. But even “Respect 90” – a fancy way to say run hard to first base – is an all-inclusive policy on some level.

“I often kid about how we don’t have any rules around here,” Maddon said. “But you do. You have almost like a force field that’s not actually a fence. Guys know if you go past a certain point, you might get stung a little bit. But you don’t have to actually see the fence there.

“Whether somebody from the outside looking in considers it lenient, wise, revolutionary, whatever, I just think it’s the right way to do things.”

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: