By Dave Wischnowsky-
(CBS) Most of us haven’t stood inside the Wrigley Field press box, stared out at an expectant crowd and butchered “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” like Bears QB Jay Cutler did last Saturday afternoon.
But, hey, in a sense, we’ve all been there.
“I do all sorts of different things,” said Bill Yohnka, 36, who wears many hats in Kankakee, including one as the city’s Director of Economic Development. “And I know that sometimes after I’ve given a presentation at work or whatever else, I think to myself, ‘Ya know, I didn’t quite nail that one,’ So, I know how it can feel.”
With his mumbling and monotone rendition at Wrigley, Cutler clearly didn’t nail his tune during the seventh-inning stretch last Saturday. As a singer, the guy makes one heck of a quarterback.
But Yohnka, the city of Kankakee and hip-hop icon Young MC – yes, Young MC – want to give Cutler a second chance at singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” when the Bears’ off-key QB rolls into nearby Bourbonnais for training camp later this month.
“If Jay is anything like me,” Yohnka said on Wednesday afternoon, “then he’d want another opportunity to really nail it.”
Bears players arrive for camp at Olivet Nazarene University on July 25. And while Yohnka knows his invitation may have no better chance connecting than a Hail Mary, he is hoping that on Saturday, July 28, Cutler might agree to duck away from ONU after practice to visit the Merchant Street MusicFest, a two-day event that last year drew an estimated 11,000 people to downtown Kankakee.
At 9:30 p.m., Young MC, best known for his 1990 Grammy-winning rap single “Bust a Move,” is scheduled to perform with fellow headliner and late-’80s hip-hop legend Tone Loc (“Funky Cold Medina,” “Wild Thing”) on the festival’s main stage.
According to Yohnka, Young MC is a big football fan. And, this week, after Merchant Street MusicFest organizer Allison Beasley mentioned Cutler’s Wrigley Field singing struggles to Young MC’s representatives, the rapper issued an invitation via Twitter on Wednesday morning, proposing Cutler to join him for a duet.
“Thinking Bears Jay Cutler and I could laydown a better “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” than at Wrigley #jaygetsadoover,” Young MC tweeted from his @officialyoungmc account.
On Wednesday, Beasley told the Kankakee Daily Journal, “We’ve heard that Cutler is a fan of Young MC’s work. I don’t know if Cutler can get away from the dorms at ONU, but he will definitely be welcome on the big stage if he wants a second chance.”
If Cutler does agree to sing, Yohnka said he’d love to figure out a way for the event to help benefit diabetes, which the quarterback was diagnosed with in 2008. The Bears do have a practice scheduled for 7 p.m. on July 28, meaning that making it from ONU to downtown Kankakee in time to sing could be tricky. But if Cutler gets on board, Kankakee Mayor Nina Epstein has pledged to help make it happen.
“The mayor loves the idea,” Yohnka said. “She even said she’ll get Jay a police escort from the dorms straight to the stage.”
Yohnka stressed how he wants Cutler to know that he’s not laughing at him with the invitation to sing a “do-over.” Rather, he’d love to see the QB often known for his dour personality allow people to laugh along with him.
“Jay sometimes gets a bad rap about not being as into things as much as people might want him to be,” Yohnka said. “And while I know it’s a little bit of a fantasy world for us that he would actually come out and sing, it would be fun.
“And, you know, the last time a Bears quarterback awkwardly did hip-hop, the team won a Super Bowl. Maybe we need to get back to that.”
The ball is now in Cutler’s court. And as Young MC might say, “What comes next, Jay, bust a move.”
Do you agree with Dave? Post your comments below.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.