Paul Sullivan has finally been released from custody and is ready and willing to answer all your e-mails on the state of the Cubs and other related subjects.
What are the chances of Rod Beck being called up sometime this century? And don't give me that lame crap excuse about his velocity, because it's only down like eight m.p.h. from his tops years ago. I'm looking at his Iowa stats, and he's obviously getting the job done anyways. I don't remember the last time Maddux lit up the radar gun for 95. Oh, yeah, I like your column, and most of your answers, so don't listen to these [*&$#@*s]. [;*&$#@*s] - leave Bellhorn alone. -- Eric Leser, Oak Lawn, Ill.
I think Rod Beck will eventually make it to the Cubs, though I can't really say when. I don't know if [*&$#@*s] is printable, but even if it is, please don't refer to the Ask Paul readers as [*&$#@*s]. They are helping me deal with my problem of being rude to e-mailers who ask stupid questions. I think I almost have it licked now, so please don't alienated my readers.
Hey, Paul, Cubs and Red Sox fan here living in Boston. For the last three years, I passionately have been looking forward to this season for the Cubs-Red Sox match-up. As you know, their divisions play each other, but these two teams do not, and I could not be more upset. Barring the World Series, when is the soonest these two teams could meet? Please do not say three years. I would also like more games on WGN. And Hillenbrand is a quality ballplayer; Cruz should definitely be given up for him if necessary. -- Jake Levenfeld, Newton, Mass.
This is another of baseball's most bone-headed moves giving up a Cubs vs. Boston interleague series for Cubs vs. Tampa Bay. This is a no-brainer decision, but MLB blew it big-time. I'm afraid it won't happen for another three years, unless they meet in a World Series, which is theoretically possible considering both teams are in first place. Sorry, too late on Hillenbrand he was shipped to the D'Backs.
Paul, I just want to say something to all of us Cubs fans: Until we can beat the Cardinals on a consistent basis we are the SAME OLD CUBS. Your thoughts? -- Joshua Karstens, Waldorf, Md.
Joshua, you make a good point. I'll think it over for a while and get back to you on that one.
Hey, Paul, what's wrong with Dusty Baker? Instead of pumping Joe Borowski up for the good, consistent job he's done as the Cubs closer, Baker basically said the other day that Antonio Alfonseca will eventually be the closer when he pitches better, implying that Borowski isn't really as good as he's been. Shouldn't Baker have said it's Borowski's job to lose, or is he just pandering to Alfonseca's fragile ego by saying Ol' Six Fingers will get his old job back? -- Craig Wieczorkiewicz, Streator, Ill.
Baker isn't implying Borowski isn't as good as he's pitched. He's trying to instill confidence in Alfonseca, who obviously is not the choice of Cubs fans but must be an integral part of this team if it's going anywhere. I'd stick with Borowski too, but Alfonseca has a good arm and has experience in the closers' role. Plus he makes $4 million, which figures into the situation, like it or not.
Paul, you mentioned that attendance and TV ratings during Sammy's stint on the DL could factor into management's view of his overall value to the franchise. It seems to me that, since the Cubs were in 1st place (a bit surprisingly) at the time of Sammy's injury, folks would tend to pay attention to the team whether the star was in the lineup or not. Does Tribune Co. really imagine that they would be looking at the same ratings if the Cubs had been in fourth or fifth place when Sammy went down, as they might well have been without him in the lineup from the start? I mean, seriously, what would the Cubs' attendance and ratings have been like in the three awful seasons since '98 (2001 being the exception) without this guy around? And who's going to replace him as a draw? Prior can't pitch every day, and they'll never sign Vladimir Guerrero (the Yankees would rather have him than Sosa anyway). Why can't the man get his props? -- Dave Marr, Athens, Ga.
Sosa is obviously a big draw and he does get his props. The fact is the Cubs ratings haven't slumped since his injury. Obviously the ratings are better when the Cubs are playing well and Sammy is on one of his home run streaks, like in '98. The article you're referring to did not mean to suggest the Cubs were better off without Sosa, but that the Cubs must consider the possibility that Sosa will exercise his escape clause after this season, as unlikely as it seems right now. Sosa is a great player and could get a three-year $60 million deal with the Yankees, eclipsing the final three years (including option year) of his Cubs deal. Stranger things have happened.
What do Chip Caray and Steve Stone do when Fox broadcasts the Cubs game? Do they usually still attend those games or do they stay as far away from the ballpark as they can? -- Craig Wieczorkiewicz, Streator, Ill.
Hey, you already asked a question about Joe Borowski. Go back to the end of the line, Craig.
Paul, I have read your column a few times but have to agree with most people in that you really have nothing to say. We all looked forward to Teddy's column because it gave us the real scoop on the Cubs without having to go to other Web sites. Please, try and get us the facts and stop writing as if you were 16 years old again. It gets old! Now for a question for you to answer (hopefully as an adult): Do you think that the club will come together more with or without Sammy in the lineup? -- Alan Cook, Oak Creek, Wis.
I'd like to answer your question, I really would. But I really have nothing to say, and your question is inane. Oops. Relapse. Excuse me.
What's the latest news about Wrigley Field? Will the Cubs get to make the desired improvements they want or will the Wrigleyville residents stifle the team's plans? -- Chris Swingen, Havre, Mont.
Looks like the battle of the Cubs. vs. the Rooftop owners is headed to the courts, so let's all hope it all plays out on Court TV with commentary by famed Chicago attorney/novelist Scott Turow. I understand Ronnie Woo would be put on the stand as a character witness: "Justice ! Woo! Delayed ! Woo! Is Justice... Woo! Denied! Woo!"
I sent a message in spring training that the pitching can't win without runs. When is GM Jim Hendry going to send some of his pitching surplus to a team (i.e. Florida) for a bona fide hitter (i.e. Lowell)? -- Wayne Laursen, Sedona, Ariz.
I'm not sure if Hendry got your message. Let me write it down. Pitching...can't... win... without... runs. Thanks, Wayne. I'll pass it along to Hendry.
Hey, Mike, I don't think that would be a very good idea at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it would be a very bad idea. Very, very bad.
Mike, I'd put my money on Sosa to win, Rivera to show, and me to place. Taking into account that throwing a baseball is an unnatural act, especially throwing it overhand, what's the fuss over pitch counts? Last time I checked, getting lazy on the mound and slipping into bad mechanics is what get pitchers into trouble, not throwing 120 pitches. I believe people are getting a little too hysterical over pitch counts. -- CJ Keller, Prattville, Ala.
You're right again, CJ. But I don't think people are getting hysterical about pitch counts. It's still a rarity for someone to throw 141 pitches, as Kerry Wood did in one start, so to let it go unmentioned would be insulting to anyone who is paying attention to the game. Baker lets some of his starters go longer than most managers, so it's an interesting trend to watch. Anything against the norm in baseball is interesting to me because most of baseball is strictly by the book these days, and we've already read the book from front to back.
In the Cubs' May 23 7-5 loss to Houston, Ramon Martinez and Mark Bellhorn both made poor plays in the first inning which allowed the Astros to stay alive long enough to score six runs. Because Jeff Kent was credited with a hit on Bellhorn's wild throw to the plate (instead of Bellhorn being charged with the error he seemed to deserve), the runs were all charged as earned, lifting Prior's ERA from a league leading 2.02 to 2.61 (instead of lowering it). Has anybody given any thought to creating a mechanism to overrule an official scorer? It seems to me that vital statistics and awards (such as a Cy Young) may hang in the balance. -- Richard Flamm, Berkeley, Calif.
The way baseball is going, sooner or later fans will be allowed to vote on scoring decisions via the Internet, making it a more democratic process and getting the fans more involved in the game. Too many official scorers have their own agendas, which makes scoring a joke on occasion, like that game in Houston. I don't think it will ruin Prior's chances of winning a Cy Young, but it's a shame it happened.
Hey, Paul, in your last column you stated that playing a majority of day games has a negative effect on the Cubs. Since most teams play at night in the first place and sleep until noon the next day, wouldn't it stand to reason that playing day games would be beneficial to the Cubs since they are already used to getting up early whereas visiting teams may not be used to getting ready for a game in the morning? -- Jason Nuebauer, Appleton, Wis.
Did I say that? What I meant to say is that Cubs fans hanging out on Rush Street should make sure opposing players stay out later than the Cubs players, buying them free drinks and ensuring the Cubs get more rest. This is the only realistic solution to the day-night dilemma, unless the Cubs start drafting squeaky clean players like Jerry Krause did.
Hey, Paul, is it just me or does Choi use the biggest glove by a Cub since Doug Dascenzo? --David Yuen, Tucson, Ariz.
It's not just you, David. Actually, the glove is even bigger than Doug Dascenzo.
Does "flu-like symptoms" mean "badly hung over"? -- Paul Cheong, Chicago
Depends on how you use it in a sentence, Paul. "He missed his start because of flu-like symptoms" usually means he was sick. "He missed the flight because of flu-like symptoms" usually means he was badly hung over. Hope that clears things up.
Hey, Paul, I, for one, (and apparently I'm the only one) enjoy the hell out of your columns. I find that you have a style similar to Dave Barry, and I'm not making that up. We are, after all, Cubs fans, and we have two choices as regards same: 1) incorporate the sense of absurd into our life; or 2) pretend the past century never happened and that all we need is the one last tweak to put the team over the top. I prefer going with No. 1, myself. If I want to listen to Cubs fan blowhards propounding pretentiously, as if they were Cardinals or Yankees fans, I'll go to a message board, where -- just ask each poster -- they all know more about baseball than Doubleday, Walter Alston, John McGraw and Earl Weaver all rolled into one. Why they would deign to ask you anything since they know so much themselves remains a mystery? But my question is: Why is Craig Counsell giving you advice? -- Ross Williams, Edwardsville, Ill.
You are the only one, Ross. Please don't write again. You are messing up the chemistry here. My e-mailers don't use words like "deign" or "propound."
Hi, Paul, being a Cubs fan stuck in the land of the Rockies is tough, especially with MLB's new policy of scheduling more divisional rivalries the last two seasons. This means I have only one chance to see the Cubbies in town each year. This makes little sense to me considering that the Cubs usually pack the stadium. As a diehard, lifelong Cubs fan, I have absolutely no interest in making the trip to Denver to see anyone other than the Cubs. Does MLB realize that they are alienating some of their fans with this new policy, and is there any chance that we might see at least a small increase in the number of games played against opponents outside of the division, or am I just going to have to start making an annual trip to the Friendly Confines each year? Thanks. -- Jason Cowles, Vail, Col.
Baseball will stick with its current plan so ESPN and Fox can show us every Yankees-Red Sox game possible. The East Coast is all that matters, which is why baseball is headquartered in New York. I believe four of the six games between the two have already been on national TV. As you know by now, the only rivalry that matters to baseball is Yankees-Red Sox, followed by Yankees-Anyone else, so looks like we're stuck with the unbalanced schedule.
Thanks again for all the e-mails. I really enjoy hearing from Cubs fans and answering your very thoughtful and provocative questions. Please send more.