NEW YORK, N.Y. - Hoping to make a hitting slump disappear, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon tried a trick.
Presto! He hired a magician.
Known for his unusual, motivational and tension-cutting clubhouse activities while with the Tampa Bay Rays, Maddon thought a five-game losing streak was the perfect time to pull out some fun.
"We're trying to lighten things up a little bit," Maddon said Tuesday night before the Cubs played the New York Mets. "We're always trying to create some magic around here, so why not bring a magician in?"
Maddon conjured up the idea on the trip to New York after the Cubs were swept in St. Louis. Chicago had scored a total of just six runs during its skid, and was 39-35 in its first season under Maddon.
A team official helped procure a magician named Simon, who entertained in the clubhouse a couple of hours before the game at Citi Field.
One of Maddon's favourite tricks involved a soda can that was crumpled and empty, only to return to form, full of soda.
"The soda can was incredible," Maddon said.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo might've been the foil for the best illusion of the day.
Simon asked Rizzo to write down the name of an actor on a piece of paper. Then the magician typed into Google on the clubhouse computer, "What is Anthony Rizzo thinking of right now?"
Up came photographs of John Travolta. Written by Rizzo on the paper: "John Travolta."
With Tampa Bay, among other activities, Maddon brought into the clubhouse penguins and a 20-foot python.
So why didn't he bring in animals this time?
"It's hard to grab a zoo animal on the road," Maddon said. "It's much easier to acquire a magician on the road than a 20-foot python. I've always felt that way."