The Cubs continue their playoff ride with an NLCS showdown against the Marlins, those unlovable losers from South Florida who haven't won a championship since Bill Clinton was president. Ask Paul is there to provide answers to Cub fans' most pressing questions:
If the Cubs and Red Sox make the World Series, which is the proper team to bring in Bill Buckner to throw out the first pitch? The Cubs won nothing until trading Buckner, and of course he is the face of the '86 disaster, right or wrong. Please advise; this is costing me sleep. -- Jack McDonald, Bloomington, Ill.
If the Cubs and Red Sox make the World Series, it's only proper to let Calvin Schiraldi throw out the first pitch.
Remember the postseason theory that the baseball team with the fewest ex-Cubs on their roster will win? This is good news for Cubs fans since Chicago does not have any ex-Cubs on their roster. RonDeSantis, Dunedin, Fla.
You're absolutely right. An ex-Cub loses his ex-Cub status when he returns to the Cubs, as Doug Glanville discovered this year. Since there can be no ex-Cubs on the Cubs, existentially speaking, this should increase their chances of winning the World Series significantly.
You'll no doubt make fun of this question, but why is there a can of Pam cooking spray in the Cubs' dugout at Wrigley Field? We could not tell if it was Original flavor Pam or the more trendy Olive Oil flavor. Also, does the Pam travel with the team? -- Mark Lovelace, Oklahoma City
This is a vital weapon during the playoffs, and the Cubs are not allowed to discuss it. But I addressed this issue earlier in the year, so look in my old columns and you may find the answer. (Editor's note: We looked for the story where Paul addresses this so we could link to it, but we couldn't find it. The answer: they spray it on their spikes so mud doesn't stick.)
To the sports sage,
I'm confused by the rectangular strike zone graphic being used in the Cubs' playoff games. I understand that the vertical lines are a given. They define the sides of the plate. The horizontal alignment is the problem. Shouldn't it move up and down with the motion of the batter? I suppose that would require sensors on the shoulders and knees. My neighbors and I got into this discussion, and after many phone calls, we couldn't get an answer. Perhaps this is worthy of publication for educational value. -- Randy Rupp, Chicago
If you think you're confused, you should talk to Bruce Froemming about it. I hope everyone is educated by this e-mail. Thanks so much for your help in educating Cubs fans.
Paul, what factor is most responsible for the Cubs' turnaround this year -- Dusty Baker, the maturing of the young pitchers or Steve Stone back in the booth? -- George Lengel, Macomb, Mich.
What about the re-appearance of Ask Paul this year?
Hi Paul: There was a lot of hoopla the other day when Carlos Delgado hit 4 homers in a game. I remember Sammy Sosa being pulled by Don Baylor after hitting 3 homers in a game (on at least 2 different occasions). Did you ever hear why Sammy was pulled from those games? I think it was a shame not to give him the chance to hit 4. Maybe Baylor didn't want to have Sammy get beaned in the head? By the way, I heard you on WSCR, and you sounded kind of normal (not bitter or sarcastic at all!). -- David Ciasto, Silvis, Ill.
I missed the Baylor years, but I was informed that Sammy was lifted after three homer games because the Cubs had a big lead and they didn't want to embarrass the opposition, which sounds reasonable and classy. And yes, I am amazingly normal. Don't listen to readers of Ask Paul.
I know that you have been eyeballing your departure from the Cubs beat since -- well, probably since somewhere around April -- but you can't go now! You obviously bring the Cubbies good luck! Plus, you are now contractually obligated to write a book about the Cinderella season of the Cubs, especially if the unthinkable happens and they actually pull this thing off! I'm sure you'll stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars off of it! -- Clark Ballew, Gloucester, Va.
It's not about the money, Clark. I'm only in it for the love of the game. But if anyone wants to offer me hundreds of thousands to cash in on the Cubs, I can be reached at: email@example.com. Thanks for the idea.
Just curious if Eric Karros has any plans to release any of the home video he has shot this year. With this magical year, that would make a great DVD. -- Scott Pfeil, Shawnee, Okla.
We have all seen Eric Karros filming the Cubs' magical September ride. Are there any plans to make a mini-documentary out of the footage that he has taken so far and producing a product for us Cubs fans to enjoy? -- Perry Ohlson, Schaumburg, Ill.
Sorry, Scott and Perry, but Karros' Cubs videos are unlikely to make it onto a DVD, though I'm sure he'll invite everyone to his apartment for a screening sometime after the season. Stay tuned for an announcement of the premiere. If anyone has a good title for it, I'll pass it on to the director.
Hi Paul, I was so elated watching all the Cubs run around Wrigley after they clinched the division title, but there was one glaring absence: Corey Patterson. Where is Corey? Do you know if he will he make an appearance in the dugout during any of the post-season games? -- Nate Smith, Bloomington, Ind.
Corey is around and was introduced during the Division Series and got a huge ovation. No one has forgotten what Patterson's contributions were to this team's turnaround, especially Cubs fans.
Now that the Cubs are this far into the postseason, are you not getting tired? After all, you should normally be on a vacation somewhere this time of year. Do you get overtime? -- Scott Erlin, Houston
Normally I would be covering the Yankees vs. somebody at this time of the year, so I wouldn't be off anyway, but thanks for thinking of me. Overtime? Please. And how can anyone be tired covering the Cubs -- unless you're talking about getting tired of listening to Eminem every day.
Well, the Cubs clinched a playoff berth, but did I and millions of other Cub fans outside Chicago get to see it? No. That is outrageous. I pay for the Major League Baseball package to get the Fox telecasts. I pay to get WGN. Yet, I can't see the biggest game of the year. That stinks. Bud Selig always talks about being for the fan. Why doesn't anyone put him on the spot about this? -- Russ Ewald, Los Angeles
The TV schedule is picked before the season, and Fox Sports just happened to pick the clinching game, meaning it only showed in Chicago. Had WGN honchos known it would've been the clinching game, maybe they would've picked it back in February. People who live outside of Chicago are going to have to get used to the idea that they wont see every game. If you want to be guaranteed of seeing every game, move back to Chicago.
The Cubs are not going very far because of their bullpen. I really doubt they will get to the playoffs which means they won't win division. It's a shame. -- Wood Overholt, Sherman, Texas
Whoops. How did this one from mid-September in? My sincerest apologies.
I've heard the old-timers whine about 1969 for my entire life. Truth be told, the Cubs haven't lost a playoff race in my lifetime, but they've only really contended three of the past 25 years. However, unlike 1998 and 1989, I believe this season is only the beginning of the road, not a one-shot spot. The Cubs, regardless of any offseason moves, will begin 2004 as good as, if not better, than they are now because they have a core of talented, young pitchers. This seems different than in the past. You agree or no? -- Scott Kurtis, New York City
With the starting pitching they have, the Cubs should be odds-on favorites to win the division, if not the World Series, in 2004. Now there's a scary thought, isn't it?
That's it for this week. If the Cubs get past Florida, we'll do it again before the World Series. As usual, please send relevant questions only.