Two years ago, Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted his team to embrace the target.
During last year’s run to a World Series championship, Maddon asked the Cubs to try not to suck.
This year’s mantra arrived in the form of another catchy phrase – and another T-shirt, this one which bears Maddon’s signature black-framed glasses with a pair of dog tags hanging from them.
Embrace The Suck, the shirt reads.
Maddon arrived at his pregame press conference Friday morning wearing the camouflaged-color T-shirt, which will benefit both Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation and the United States military.
Asked what the phrase – which has been used in the past by the military – meant, Maddon kept it simple.
“Exactly what it says,” Maddon replied. “There’s a difficult situation and it’s never any good, but nevertheless you have to embrace the situation.”
The Cubs entered Friday’s game against the first-place Brewers two games over .500 and in third place in the National League Central. A year after the Cubs started 25-6 and won the division running away, they have muddled through the first 40 games of the season.
Maddon said one reason for introducing the T-shirts now is to get his players to understand that they must find a way to play through adversity.
“To really expect utopia on an annual basis in the baseball industry is difficult and really not a good method,” Maddon said. “So right now, I want our guys to understand we haven’t done our best work to this point, but that’s a good thing (and) to really stay focused and understand the better days are coming.
“More recently we’ve had three good days, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to get to where we want to be.”
Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward said while the Cubs’ three-game sweep of the Reds this week and gotten things moving in the right direction, he and his teammates must realize that the season is a long one. Over the long haul, Heyward said, the Cubs must find a way to persevere.
“You have to make your adjustments on a daily basis, but we’re going to continue to do a good job of that,” Heyward said. “I feel like we saw ourselves do that (against the Reds). (We) just have to keep plugging away, keep having fun, enjoy the process – good and bad – and get healthy and keep having fun, keep having fun.”
It’s exactly the message Maddon is trying to convey through his newest piece of baseball wisdom fashion.
“The concept of embracing the target and trying not to suck and then embracing the suck, to me, makes all the sense in the world,” Maddon said.
Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.