One of the best moments of the recent Cubs Convention came at the end of a question-and-answer session with the Ricketts family when a fan asked Tom Ricketts to pay his players more so they could afford haircuts.
"And the manager, who's on TV every day, looks like he slept on a park bench," the fan added. "I want to see a Cubs team that looks like a major league team and plays like one. Look at the New York Yankees. They get a haircut and a shave every day."
The rant elicited a lot of laughs, and the fan received an ovation.
"I'll put that one in the suggestion box," the Cubs chairman replied.
Does the team that shaves together play together?
We may never know if a well-groomed Cubs team is the antidote to a century-plus of losing. The Cubs' ownership isn't ready to emulate the Yankees and tell its players and manager to conform to a standard look.
So manager Dale Sveum will continue to wear his five o'clock shadow at 1 p.m., and pitchers Jeff Samardzija and James Russell will continue to wear their hair down to their shoulders. Russell, though, had his sister trim his hair before spring training, but you couldn't tell by looking.
"I always said once I got drafted I'd start growing it out," he said. "When I was at (the University of) Texas we had the Yankees rule — no facial hair, no long hair. So I decided I'd get wild once I could. Might as well."
At 27, Russell has established himself enough in the big leagues finally to get "wild." He came up playing for manager Lou Piniella in 2010 in a bullpen that included fellow rookies Esmailin Caridad and Justin Berg, along with an inexperienced Samardzija. Russell struggled briefly after manager Mike Quade threw him into the rotation early in 2011, but rebounded with a 2.19 ERA in 59 relief appearances.
Last year under Sveum, the left-hander went 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 77 appearances, establishing himself as one of the Cubs' three workhorses, along with Shawn Camp and closer Carlos Marmol. Now Kyuji Fujikawa joins those three in what the Cubs hope will be a lockdown bullpen for the final three or four innings.
Russell ready for anything in Cubs bullpen
Chicago Tribune | Feb 22