MESA, Ariz. – Apparently “Embrace the Target” wasn’t enough, or too complicated.
Either way, the Cubs embraced a new motto Sunday morning when new T-shirts showed up at their lockers to wear during morning workouts. On the front: “Try not to suck” (with an image of manager Joe Maddon’s glasses).
“It’s kind of true,” reliever Justin Grimm said. “It’s, like, just try not to suck.”
Just like that.
The phrase is not new for this group, especially during games, when catcher David Ross makes it a habit to share the thought with teammates heading to the plate or to the mound.
How it’s taken this long to find its way onto a T-shirt in the clubhouse that leads the majors in T-shirts and slogans is the strangest thing about the phrase, especially given its team history since Maddon and Ross showed up on the scene a year ago.
Javy Baez said Maddon inspired him with the thought during their meeting in the manager’s office when Baez was called up from the minors in September.
“He just told me to relax and just enjoy the game,” Baez said. “And then at the end he said, `Try not to suck.’
“I just laughed and said, `OK.’ ”
The debut of the shirts came one day after Maddon’s annual “Respect the Bald” hair-shaving promotion raised close to $30,000 for pediatric cancer research. And the shirts already are available online for $29.99 at korkedbaseball.com, with Maddon’s part of the proceeds benefitting charity.
“When we say it in the dugout we laugh,” Maddon said. “It’s the most positive negative you’ve ever heard in your life.”
And it’s only the beginning. Maddon is working with the T-shirt maker on a line featuring several Maddonisms.