The Ditka factor . . .
Legendary former Bears coach Mike Ditka, who was asked to call “Play Ball!” during Game 1 of the National League Division series Friday night at Wrigley Field, also took along a little Trump.
• Translation: Da Coach, who tells Sneed he regularly carries one lucky coin in his pocket, recently added a second one: a Donald Trump for president coin.
“The one I’ve carried for years is a small gold piece,” he told Sneed. “But the newest addition to my pocket is my “Trump” coin,” said Ditka, a huge fan of the GOP presidential candidate, who is equally a Ditka devotee.
• The big question: Did Ditka bring the coins as lucky charms for the Cubs playoffs?
“Hey, the Cubs don’t need me to bring these coins for luck! They’re the best team in baseball,” he roared.
“Look, I’ve been a Cubs fan ever since I came to Chicago and started hanging out with Ernie [Banks] and Billy [Williams],” said Ditka, who claims he began as a St. Louis Cardinals fan because of his love for slugger Stan “The Man” Musial.
“So when the Cubs asked me to call ‘Play Ball,’ I asked them if they wanted me to do it in German, Spanish, French or Taiwanese,” chirped Ditka, who wanted to add: Go Cubs Go!”
“They told me I could do it in any language I wanted to as long as I did it,” he told Sneed.
“Right now I’m a happy man. Nothing drives me crazy anymore. I had a good workout this morning. And I’m getting ready for the game by sitting on the couch, watching a woman’s golf tournament [with his wife, Diana] and smokin’ a cigar.
“How’s that for getting to a point in your life when it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy? And I’m still pulling for the Bears as hard as I can.”
Ditka says he plans to wear a Cubs jersey tonight, his “trusty cigar lighter,” and several pens. “I always seem to be asked for an autograph,” he said.
Isn’t it surprising how Trump managed to get into this story?
Ryno is riveted!
“I’ve never seen it like this!
“The Cubs have all the talent to go all the way — and this is the most excitement I’ve seen in the Cubs ever,” said legendary Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, whose team came close to winning the pennant in 1984.
“Unlike us, this 2016 team has had a very good shot at the World Series right out of spring training,” Ryno told Sneed.
“In 1984, the team caught people by surprise. We improved as we went along in the season. That’s the big difference I see.
“This is a young team that’s having a lot of fun.
“From opening day there has been 41,000 plus fans at Wrigley Field and they’re really reacting to plays even in the first inning that could dictate the outcome of the game. There is also a larger buzz around Wrigley Field and the team nationally.
“I keep hearing from fans: “This is the year! Isn’t it?” ‘That speaks volumes about the talent level and how much the fans have enjoyed watching this team play.
“It’s so gratifying for me to be part of the Cubs organization at this time, especially as their ambassador.
“Winning the World Series may not have happened when I played for the team, but it really doesn’t matter when it happens as long as it happens when I’m part of the team.”
Sandberg was spotted sitting with his three sons and son-in-law in box seats down the first base line enjoying the Cubs players’ walk-up songs Friday night.
“I love Anthony Rizzo’s song with the latin flair,” Sandberg chuckled.
“No better way to start a rally.”
The Obama hearth . . .
POTUS Place: While President Barack Obama holed up with pals at his Kenwood home in Hyde Park on Friday, the first lady and the first daughters were having a girls weekend at Camp David to chill out.
Hotel hell . . .
It’s a shocker: Sneed is told a recent survey of hotel housekeepers and cocktail servers in the Chicago hospitality industry revealed more than 49 percent of women reported being sexually harassed while on the job.
In 2011, sexual assault in the hotel industry drew headlines when Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested in New York and accused of assaulting a hotel housekeeper.
Watch for a panel discussion titled “Hands Off Pants On: Sexual Harassment in Chicago’s Hospitality Industry,” to be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at UNITE HERE Local 1, located at 218 S. Wabash St., which represents 15,000 hospitality workers in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
Moderated by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, the panel will include sports columnist Julie DiCaro, who participated in the award-winning #MoreThanMean video; Chicago journalist Robin Robinson and Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Sneed is told a video of labor leaders reading quotes from housekeepers and waitresses about sexual harassment was viewed by a stunned House Speaker Mike Madigan, and can be viewed below.
Sneedlings . . .
I spy: Cubs shortstop Addison Russell spotted at Chicago Cut on Thursday night with his wife. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Bruno Mars, 31; Matt Damon, 46, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, ageless. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Bella Hadid, 20; Starling Marte, 28, and the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman, ageless, priceless and never useless.Tweets by @sneedlings