3/20 And the winner of Cubs Idol is …

Pitcher Justin Berg, who performed his own song, and infielder Darwin Barney, who played Coldplay’s “Nobody Said It Was Easy” on the piano, were named co-winners of the first Cubs Idol on Saturday.

The two were among the seven finalists, who sang for judges Ryan Dempster, Derrek “Dog” Lee, Kevin Millar, and Aramis Ramirez on a stage beyond right field at HoHoKam Park. NFL quarterback Steve Young was a celebrity judge and took part in the evaluation — and comments.

There were some interesting final performances. Outfielder Jim Adduci wore white wings decorated with white feathers, which were also stuck randomly all over his body, and sang “I Believe I Can Fly.” He should stick to baseball. Said Young: “We wouldn’t allow this in my sport.”

Reliever James Russell showed quite a bit of range singing Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Reasons.” Lee said the left-hander was one of the most improved competitors and showed he could “hit the high notes like Whitney Houston.” Young, however, thought Russell sounded more like the singer, Charo.

Starlin Castro sang in both English and Spanish, doing a song by 50 Cent. Said Ramirez: “They didn’t understand what you said but I did.” Outfielder Brad Snyder died his hair purple and did Steel Dragon’s “Stand Up and Shout.” Dempster thought it was a bad song selection and that Snyder “took a step back.” Said Millar: “You’re here on your looks only.”

Tyler Colvin played guitar and had one of the best vocals of the day. Said Young: “I didn’t thikn I’d see something like that today.”

But Berg and Barney wowed the crowd of players and team personnel. Berg performed his own song, “As the Days Go By,” which he wrote while playing rookie ball with the Yankees. The right-hander received a standing ovation fro the crowd and the judges and said performing the song was more nerve-wracking than when he made his Major League debut. Barney followed on the piano. Dempster said everyone who can only play chopsticks was jealous.

Berg and Barney were declared co-winners, and will each receive a check for $10,000 to be given to the charity of their choice. The competition began with 28 contestants.

“That was awesome,” Dempster said. “Some of these guys, like Russell, they came a long way. Doing stuff like this is fun. You get to know everybody in camp, it brings everybody together, you laugh and have a good time. Some of these guys can really sing — ‘Bergy’ and Barney, I didn’t think it would be that tough [to decide a winner]. They both did such a great job.”

— Carrie Muskat

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