Is it a violation of political correctness to call Bithorn Stadium a joke? Paul, did you see any chickens on the infield? --Elmo Jones, Birmingham, Ala.
No chickens on the infield, but plenty of bird droppings on the wooden seats, which are decrepit to say the least. Yes, this ballpark is a joke, especially the dimensions, but since I love Puerto Rico I'm all for the Cubs making a return trip in 2004 if the Expos don't move to Chicago.
Hi Paul, I sent a letter to Bob Watson today demanding that Antonio Alfonseca be suspended for the rest of the year (including the playoffs and World Series, should the Cubs get that far). I urge other Cubs fans to do the same. --Pat Navin, Evanston, Ill.
No one likes a smart aleck, Pat. Besides, he was just starting to get into a groove. The Cubs will need Alfonseca before all is said and done, believe it or not. Did I just write that? Hey, this Puerto Rican rum is tasty!
Paul, in a column at the beginning of last season the writer noted that 2003, not 2002, would be the year to look forward to. That Tribune writer noted the strong, young arms that would be ready in '03. There would not be much to shout about in '02, but in '03 the Cubs might well have all the tools. The writer seems to have been quite prescient. Was that you Paul, and if so, what is your prediction for the playoff run and the postseason? --David Cassidy, Paducah, Ky.
That writer would not have been me, since I was covering the White Sox at the time and paid very little attention to the strong, young arms on the Cubs. As for the playoffs, the best chance the Cubs have is to play San Francisco in the Division Series and hope the Dodgers sneak in as the Wild Card and play Atlanta. The Dodgers' staff can neutralize the Braves' hitting, and the Cubs can beat San Francisco because of the Dusty Factor. That would set up a Cubs-Dodgers NLCS, and I would imagine the Cubs would be favored in that one. Then it's on to the World Series, where the White Sox will pose a very significant threat.
Dear Paul, on Sept. 4, you quoted Dusty Baker as saying, "As far as I'm concerned, tricks are for kids, and I don't take kindly to threats." Did Dusty actually say TRICKS OR TRIX, the cereal, because he definitely was using the slogan "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids"? Maybe Darren is a Trix eater. --Dan Rubin, Chicago
We did not ask Dusty to spell it, but obviously it was a take on the cereal slogan "Trix are for kids." As for Darren's cereal preference, we'll have to wait for his next press conference. I'm betting on Frosted Flakes, which is my favorite.
Why not give us your take on the incident involving Alfonseca and Alou in the second game between the Cards and the Cubs. Was it a violation of baseball ethics? --Miguel Almanza, Wichita, Kan.
Alfonseca's belly bump was certainly a violation, though I felt Alou was wronged when ESPN reported he spit on an umpire. And the notion that Alfonseca "slipped" on the grass and accidentally fell into the umpire is the most ridiculous story since "I accidentally put my corked bat in the bat rack."
I just had to comment on your story "Estes denies making arm gesture at fans." I was at the game that day, sitting about twenty rows up from the Cubs dugout. Not only is Estes a lousy pitcher who can't admit fault, he's also a LIAR. It was obvious to every single person sitting around me what he did, and we were all absolutely dumbfounded. --Chris Levick, Chicago
Estes said he makes the same gesture all the time and wasn't doing it to be rude to the fans. I'll have to take his word for it, since he has no reason to lie. Cubs fans and Shawn Estes have a very special relationship, as we all know.
Paul, in your column about bolstering your Cubs IQ, you refer to Whitney Houston's "You Light Up My Life." It wasn't Whitney who sang this song; it was Debbie Boone. Since you have made it painfully clear that you hate doing this column, and many of the people writing to you have expressed displeasure with your attitude and lack of responsiveness, will Cub fans be enjoying "Ask Paul Sullivan" next year? --Bob Devetski, Granger, Ind.
Bob, have you ever heard another artist doing a rendition of someone else's song? If you have, then you would understand that I was correct. By the way, I enjoy doing this column, as almost everyone who reads it knows, and will hopefully be back next year to annoy people who take baseball too seriously and have absolutely no sense of humor.
Hey Paul, when the Reds come to town, will the Cubs get to face Paul "Punching Bag" Wilson? --Randy Klecka, McHenry, Ill.
Doesn't look like Wilson is in the rotation for next weekend, so Kyle Farnsworth will have to beat up someone else.
I'm 36, so I must be too young to know Foster Brooks. Nor can I define Maypo. So please, Paul, please enlighten, I'm too lazy to do the research myself. --Joe Duggan, Lincoln, Neb.
Just 'Google' it, Joe. In case you don't know how, Maypo is a cereal that featured commercials where Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays cried: "I want my Maypo." Foster Brooks was a comedian who pretended he was a drunk for laughs, kind of like Ozzie Osbourne pretending he's stoned for laughs. At least I assume he's pretending, though he appears quite authentic.
Paul, don't you think Dusty should realize he's in Chicago now? Cubs fans are going to boo Alfonseca and other deserving players. It's their way of saying goodbye. Dusty should realize this by now. --Frank Bales, Kimmell, Ind.
Dusty is trying to get Cubs fans on Alfonseca's side, reasoning that the booing only hurts his confidence and thus affects his performance. While Alfonseca deserves to be booed after a bad outing, it's not necessary to boo him when he stands up in the bullpen. This generation of Cubs fans is much nastier than their parents. I don't remember much booing of the '69 team that collapsed down the stretch, though maybe my memory is too hazy.
Paul, I just read Remlinger's comments that he hasn't been getting the job done and that his performance is "unacceptable." What chance do you think he might spur himself to do better by giving himself some incentive...say, forfeit $10,000 of his salary for each run he gives up the rest of the year? Ballplayers always have clauses in their contracts requiring the team to pay them more if they perform (which is what they already get paid to do anyway). When are we going to start seeing clauses requiring the players to pay back the team when they don't perform? --Scott D. Kutzner, Mechanicsburg, Pa.
As soon as we see owners giving underpaid stars like Carlos Zambrano a huge bonus for performing like an All-Star in their first full season.
Dear Paul, as most die-hard Cub fans, I was watching the Cubs/Cardinals games. One thing that caught my attention was Cardinals pitcher Steve Kline's "soiled" hat. How in the name of Gaylord Perry does he get away wearing that cap as a pitcher? You cannot tell me that he does not use the pine tar on his cap to grip the ball better on his breaking pitches. Maybe you can answer why no one has ever called him out on it. --Rick Youngfelt, Downers Grove, Ill.
I'm not sure his hat is illegal, but it surely must smell. You'd think his wife would ask him to get a new one. Anyway, who cares about Steve Kline's cap?
The reason managers wear uniforms instead of suits is not only tradition, but also because they enter the field of play. NFL, NBA and NHL coaches are not permitted on the playing surface during a game, thus do not need to wear a uniform, or at least that is the rationale I've been told. Thanks. --Matthew Wozniak, Polacca, Ariz.
Thanks for straightening out this pressing issue. I'm sure we can all sleep soundly now.
You're right about the different era when talking about Gibson/Koufax. It drives me nuts when Kerry Wood hits Albert Pujols and Pujols looks at him like, "How dare you hit me?" Shut up and take your base. It's part of the game. I don't care who you are or how good you are. --Mark Boland, Chicago
Well said. Pujols was barely nicked. Sammy Sosa was hit in the helmet last night and laughed about it afterwards. There are too many crybabies in the game, so it's good to have guys like Kerry Wood to teach them who owns the plate.
After watching the amazing Cubs-Cards series and being elated that the Cubs won four of five, I believe that this is the year the Cubs go to the World Series. Here's another reason why: 10 years ago a movie came out called "Rookie of the Year," which was about a kid who was a huge Cubs fan. He broke his arm while playing ball and when it healed, he could pitch around 100 m.p.h. The Cubs got him to close games and they went on to win like crazy. Skip to 2003. Mark Prior runs into Marcus Giles, gets hurt and then comes back and so far is 6-0 with a 0.57 ERA. He's been absolutely dominating. Freaky coincidence, isn't it? Combine that with their great play lately and their good luck and I think this is the year the Cubs can get to the series and probably win it. --John Doshan, Valparaiso, Ind.
I barely remember the movie, but if this is the case, maybe we can get Shawn Estes to run into someone on the bases and get him going.
Dear Paul, please tell Jim White of Lombard that if he wants the infield fly rule explained, all he has to do is ask Chip Caray's dad. Cubs fans who have nothing better to do at 3 a.m. than write to your Q&A pretty much have the brass tacks of the game worked out. 80 percent of the questions you run in this column are insightful and baseball related--even when they're about Alfonseca's batting gloves. And as far as Debby Boone is concerned, you and I both know that Jim should thank you for editing some of your readers' longer and less pressing queries. One more thing, Paul: What's gonna spill? --Dave Marr, Athens, Ga.
I try to answer as many questions as possible, and that means some of them are going to be totally off the wall. I can't tell you what's going to spill, but you will definitely know what it was when it happens. That's all for now. I'm off to the beach.