The Chicago Cubs easily lead the league in fashion statements, with manager Joe Maddon’s propensity for turning his slogans into T-shirts. And one of his designs has prompted the Cardinals to rethink a policy at Busch Stadium.
During the Cubs’ first visit to St. Louis this season, ushers have told fans wearing Maddon’s “Try Not to Suck” T-shirt to remove the shirt or turn it inside out. The T-shirt, which is sold to raise money for Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation, features a silhouette of signature Maddon’s Buddy Holly-like glasses and a verb that the Cardinals have for years not allowed at the ballpark. That has been true whether it appears on a T-shirt about an opposing team or, as one official described, even on “Cancer Sucks” tees.
The Cardinals are likely to loosen that restriction by the next home stand.
“I find it humorous, actually,” Maddon said when he learned fans had been reprimanded for wearing the shirt. “I’d love to know the definition of why they’re offensive in any way, shape or form. 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 that you find that dirty in some way. … I don’t find it that way at all.”
Maddon thought about wearing the T-shirt out for batting practice as solidarity or protest but elected not to do so. He probably will be free to wear it wherever he wants when the Cubs next visit Busch.
The Cardinals have written ballpark policies called “Ground Rules for Guests” and one of them forbids obscene or indecent clothing. An official said that the ballpark’s practice has been to request fans remove or turn inside-out T-shirts that have curse words on them, and “sucks” has been one of the words that the team did not want to appear on clothing or signage.
Officials discussed the policy again Wednesday, and the expectation is that the team will change that stance in part because T-shirts such as Maddon’s don’t use the term offensively. Any perceived affront from the word has changed with its modern and widespread use.
Maddon’s T-shirt, which can be purchased online for $29.99 (not including shipping), was inspired by one of his phrases, “Try not to suck.” The Cubs have many others. Jason Heyward met Monday with the media wearing a T-shirt that featured a cowboy on a bucking steer that had a Cubs logo branded on its hindquarter. Several players walked around the Cubs’ clubhouse with shirts featuring another popular Maddonism: “Do Simple Better.” The Cubs have a T-shirt that features a Bear meditating.
And, of course, the Cubs debuted a T-shirt this spring that featured Maddon’s horned-rim glasses with an arrow through them that read, “Embrace the Target.” Yes, those are for sale by manufacturer Korked, too.
Maddon is considering selling the shirt in question in the colors of different teams. There’s no word if he’ll release a Cardinals red one.
“The first day we came in town, I went to Hooters for some wings and some beer and a guy came in with a shirt on, a Cubs fan, and he told me he was denied access to the ballpark,” Maddon told reporters Wednesday. “So, 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.”
The 3-hour, 21-minute rain delay Wednesday allowed some of the Cardinals to take advantage of a new addition to the home clubhouse.
Late in this home stand, a gift from the St. Louis Chess Club arrived — a chess table specifically built for the Cardinals, complete with both the ballclub’s and the chess club’s logos as well as hand-carved pieces.
Matheny is a spokesman for the Central West End-located chess club, and he’s a devotee of the game.
During Wednesday’s weather delay Maness, Michael Wacha, and Mike Leake were among the players who played chess.
As mandated by Major League Baseball and its union for all teams, the Cardinals have hired an official translator who will serve in the media relations department and work with the Spanish-speaking players.
The hiring was delayed by the approval process all 30 teams had to go through with their hires.
• Outfielder Tommy Pham (oblique strain) said he’s “not there yet” when it comes to being game-ready. Pham has started hitting, but the soreness in his midsection has not dissipated to the point that he’ll be scheduled for a rehab assignment.