The wonderful, unique manager of the Chicago Cubs Joe Maddon always comes up with offbeat slogans, for which the team generally make up t-shirts. My favorite is his from last year, “Do Simple Better.” This season he had a new one that really caught on. The slogan is “Try Not to Suck.” (I wrote about this during during Spring Training.) The team sells the t-shirts for Maddon's charity foundation.
(Maddon is notable for how he deals with t-shirts. As I also wrote about him last year, he often wears t-shirts for other peoples' charities when he meets the press for his post-game press conference. That way, the shirt and charity gets on camera, and I believe the team hands out information about the charity. He started doing this when he was manager of the Tampa Bay Rays.)
Anyway, a week or so ago the Cubs just finished playing an away series again their big rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. It turns out that the genteel ushers at Busch Stadium in St. Louis wouldn’t let Cubs fans in who were wearing the shirt, or made them turn the shirt inside-out.
By the way, to be clear, the word most-certainly once had base origins. And those origins remain real. But its usage is vastly different today. (Language changes drastically over time. Growing up, you would never dream of saying "schmuck" in our household, or anywhere. It was a terrible, absolutely filthy word. But now we have a light-hearted comedy that made it past the highly-protective MPAA censors, Dinner with Scmucks.). And while, "You suck" or "Cardinals suck" still has a very real bite to it, today it's rude at most.
As evidence of this, I should note that fans wear the t-shirt at the family-amenable "Friendly Confines" of Wrigley Field in Chicago, where all its day games brings a menagerie of little kids to the park, especially on the weekends, with not a blink from ushers. And there have been no stories at other ballpark around the country where Cubs fans proliferate of there being an issue. In fairness, St. Louis is different. Yet even there, it's clear that they themselves understand there's a sense of over-reaction, since the adverse public reaction has even made the tender-hearted ballpark officials reconsider their position, though there’s no definitive change in policy yet.
Here's a story about it from the Cubs website by Carrie Muskat. I love Joe Maddon’s quote in the very last line. Pure Maddon.
Maddon surprised by T-shirt controversy in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS -- Joe Maddon met a Cubs fan at a downtown restaurant earlier this week who was denied access to Busch Stadium because he was wearing one of the manager's "Try Not to Suck" T-shirts. Maddon heard from other fans who were told by ushers that the shirts were offensive.
The Cardinals apparently are reconsidering their policy because of that, and Maddon complimented the team.
"I give them credit for stepping back and saying, 'Maybe we made a mistake with this thing,'" Maddon said after Wednesday's 5-3 loss. "It's not offensive to anyone -- it's a self-deprecating slogan, so why would you be upset with it?"
Maddon couldn't understand why the Cardinals ushers found the shirts offensive and said the feedback from fans surprised him. Sales of the T-shirts go to his Respect 90 Foundation and Cubs Charities. The message on the shirt is one Maddon would say to players as they went up to hit.
"I'd love a full explanation as to why [the ushers] find it offensive," Maddon said. "I'd love to know why they find it dirty. If you look it up in the dictionary, I think it's very appropriate to utilize that word in a lot of daily adventures."
Maddon was debating how to respond, but decided not to do anything.
"I think it's much better if the fans make a big deal out of it," he said. "Let someone else blow your horn and the sound travels twice as far."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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