For all the reminders, schedules, phone numbers and phrases that appear on the whiteboard in the Cougars’ home clubhouse, players keep one important item internalized.
Some spring training advice from Anthony Iapoce, a special assistant to the general manager and player development department for the parent Cubs, really resonated.
Iapoce’s tutelage involves fans, so listen up, Cougars backers:
“He talks about changing lives. I mean, you never know who’s watching up there,” infielder David Bote said. “There’s a little kid who doesn’t know anything about baseball. So you play the game hard, play the game the right way, you know. ‘I want to try that one time. I want to try baseball like he’s playing. Who knows, maybe I can make the Major Leagues someday.’
“But just changing lives, just playing the game right no matter who’s watching. If it’s a bunch of kids or it’s a bunch of scouts, it doesn’t matter, you know. You play the game right and if one of those kids comes away saying they want to try baseball, that’s awesome.”
Entering today’s 11 a.m. series finale against Peoria, the Cougars have played to an average crowd of 4,691 fans over 28 home dates this season, good for second in the 16-team Midwest League.
What’s more, fans are seeing the first-place team in the MWL’s Western Division, one that hasn’t shown any signs of overthinking the first-half stretch run.
“They’re going about their business like they always have and they’re a pretty even-keeled group, so they’re just going to go out and play hard like they’ve been doing all year,” manager Mark Johnson said. “There’s nothing any different.”
The heat is on: First-pitch temperature for the first five games of the Cougars’ current six-game homestand registered at a respective 67, 65, 71, 78 and 81 degrees.
Talk about a long-awaited warming trend.
“Oh, my God. All of us from the south were like, ‘Man, when does it get hot up here?’ ” catcher/third baseman Ben Carhart, a Floridian, said.
Tee it up: Better weather also means better opportunities to golf.
Among the this week’s deals is a midday special at Settler’s Hill in Batavia. By presenting an online coupon available at www.settlershill.com, golfers can play 18 holes with a cart for $25 for all tee times from noon to 1:57 p.m. today and Wednesday.
• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.