CHICAGO – You might say Ben Zobrist got some support from his sole mates Monday.
A day after news came out that Zobrist could be facing a fine for wearing black baseball shoes during games – a violation Major League Baseball’s uniform regulations – Zobrist came right back with the black shoes for Monday’s 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. He was joined by teammates Kyle Schwarber and Steve Cishek.
“Obviously, I’ll always support Zobrist,” said Cishek, a relief pitcher. “I didn’t realize it would make that much of a stir. I was going to wear those on this day (Jackie Robinson Day) anyway. It wasn’t, like, firing people up. I was wearing those because I was going to wear them the last time we played Atlanta.”
Jackie Robinson Day was April 15, but the Cubs and Braves were rained out. In addition to wearing Robinson’s No. 42, players were given black socks. MLB says shoes must be 51 percent of the team’s primary color, which with the Cubs is blue.
Schwarber also was asked about the shoes.
“I see all the points of players who are frustrated because no one’s been making a big deal until now,” he said. “I don’t see the point there of why you would try to make a big deal of a jersey or a pair of shoes because it’s not at the requirements. Rules are rules but I see all the points for our players.”
Zobrist said he hoped he could talk to Joe Torre as early as Monday night. Torre is MLB’s chief baseball officer.
“My question’s going to be ‘Why?’” Zobrist said. “We’ll see what kind of answer I get to, ‘Why now?’ I think all players are kind of wondering that. I’ve heard nothing but positive stuff from fans and players. That’s the direction the game needs to go, is more freedom with expression in certain ways, which are small compared to arm sleeves and things like that if you want to go square inches of color.”
A sure bet: Cubs manager Joe Maddon took a pragmatic view of the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a law banning commercial sports betting in most states.
“It’s already allowed,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s already legal. It’s already been legal. If it’s been going on as long as it has in Vegas and in every barroom in the backroom of many bars, whether it’s been in Chicago or in Hazleton (Pennsylvania, Maddon’s hometown), it’s been part of our culture. So I think it’s out front right now.”
Schwarber was asked about the ruling. He had a somewhat humorous response.
“My guess is it will be good for people outside of the game of baseball,” he said. “Obviously, we’re not going to do that, we’re not going to be betting on baseball. We also know what happened to good old Pete Rose there. That’s a good example of just not to do it, for us.”
Rose, baseball’s all-time hits leader, was banned for life in 1989 for betting on baseball.
Even if sports gambling is legalized across the country, MLB will not rescind its prohibition on its people betting on baseball.
Trying to line up Montgomery: It’s possible left-hander Mike Montgomery will start one of the games of Saturday’s doubleheader at Cincinnati.
“I need to watch him carefully and see if we can stretch him out appropriately to get him lined up,” said Joe Maddon. “We’ve already talked to him about it. He’s aware of that. If we can, you could see him in that doubleheader. If I cannot, you may not. We’re not just going to sacrifice a game because I’m holding him back. I won’t do that.”