Cubs manager Joe Maddon had no worries on the golf course Monday.
With the last two voids in his roster filled and his team on a 13-3 run since the All-Star break, Maddon participated in the second annual “Try Not to Suck Celebrity Golf Classic” at Bryn Mawr Country Club in Lincolnwood.
Maddon said that shortly after team president Theo Epstein texted him about an impending trade, news broke that the Cubs had completed a deal with the Tigers. They acquired left-handed closer Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila for switch-hitting infielder Jeimer Candelario and Class A shortstop Isaac Paredes.
Maddon was pleased with the trade.
“I’ve seen Wilson pitch in the past in the American League,’’ he said, ‘‘and I’ve always liked his stuff. How could you not? And [Avila], he’s a wonderful catcher . . . [and] a very good clutch hitter. This time of year when you add people like that and the players in the clubhouse know that it’s going to make you better, it makes the vibe even greater there.”
Left-hander Mike Montgomery knows what it’s like to be traded during the season and how that can help boost a team to success. Last year, he was traded to the Cubs from the Mariners in July. Montgomery said the recent trades have helped the team refocus.
“We’ve really turned things around,” said Montgomery, who was the only current Cub at the golf tournament. “Everyone in the clubhouse knows that we’re fighting for a World Series again. And I think the first half didn’t go great, but the second half, everyone kind of has that mentality that we’re going for it.”
But Monday was a day for Maddon and Montgomery to step away from baseball.
The event’s focus was to raise money for Maddon’s Respect 90 Foundation and his Hazleton Integration Project, which emphasizes cultural inclusion in Maddon’s hometown of Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
“The overarching plan is to make [HIP] a statewide, then a national model,” Maddon said. “It’s prominent within our country right now, and it’s necessary. It’s primarily about getting kids involved, bringing kids together, then hopefully the grown-ups will act like grown-ups.”
This year, the celebrity golf tournament raised $300,000, an increase of $50,000 compared to last year’s event, according to Respect 90 executive director Rick Vaughn.
Maddon, who said he went to TopGolf once in Arizona, sported his white and green Vans for his second golf outing this season.
Comedian Tom Dreesen the tournament’s “headliner,” according to Maddon.
Joe Maddon poses with comedian Tom Dreesen at his second annual “Try Not to Suck” celebrity golf tournament. | Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times
Dreesen witnessed racial division firsthand growing up in south suburban Harvey and set precedent with Tim Reid as the first black-white comedy duo. Dreesen said he has seen progress made and thinks sports were instrumental in mending those relationships.
“Young kids today see those players playing together for one common purpose, which is to win,” Dreesan said. “Sports have a lot to do with America and helping bring us together.”
The money raised from last year’s tournament was put toward a playground that was opened this spring and was featured on NBC’s Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly two weeks ago.
Follow me on Twitter @madkenney.
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