We've finally located Paul Sullivan and convinced him it was time to answer his e-mails about kangaroo courts, Grudz and Walker playing together, and the possibility of Maggs winding up at the Tribune ...
Do the Cubs have a kangaroo court? If so, who is the judge and can they take the proceeds and buy a base-running instructional video? -- Mike Brescia, Pelham, N.Y.
First, I'd like to apologize for avoiding my e-mails for so long. I'll try not to take another e-vacation until, say, August. No, I haven't seen nor heard of a kangaroo court here. But if they ever start one, I think we all know which player is eminently qualified to be the judge.
Paul, why does it seem that Cubs pitchers so often give up first-inning runs and only then slam the door shut? I don't have statistics to back this up, but it seems that every other start Maddux and Prior, and maybe others, take an inning to settle down before being able to dominate. Why does this happen? Routinely? -- Robin Fishbein, Chicago
When Sox pitcher Danny Wright had trouble in first innings as a rookie, they decided to make him warm up twice in the bullpen and pretend he's entering in the second inning. The Cubs haven't resorted to this alternative logic approach, which is a good thing. I don't have stats on it, but it does seem like Cubs starters take a couple innings to get into a groove -- Carlos Z. vs. the Sox on Friday, Prior vs. the Brewers on Tuesday, etc. But the starters rank first in ERA, so once they're in a groove, they usually don't slack off.
Paul, do you believe that Corey Patterson's plate discipline will improve with more experience? I recall Barry Bonds' first couple of years with Pirates: a batting average in the low to .200s, lots of strikeouts, and a guy swinging too hard. Not that Patterson will emerge as another Bonds, but it does seem like some players take more time to mature. Thoughts? -- Mike Wisdom, La Grande, Ore.
I believe it's slowly improving, like the recent 11-pitch at-bat against the Astros at Wrigley, drawing a walk in a key situation. He's no Barry Bonds, but Corey could be a league leader in doubles and triples some year if he puts it all together. That's why booing him seems counter-productive to me. Fans everywhere are more impatient, and I have to blame it on LeBron James and guys stuck in traffic jams all over the country calling their local sports-talk radio shows to complain.
Over the last two weeks or so, I have noticed Corey Patterson has been bunting a little more with some success. Any chance that he will get the top spot in the line-up? -- Jim Canavan, Tinley Park
I'd like to see Dusty try it sometime, but he doesn't seem inclined to make the switch. If Corey struggled at all, Cubs fans would probably be all over him. He'd be successful at it if he worked hard enough.
Do the players usually eat dinner before or after a night game? -- Luke Rothaar, Chicago
Since food is catered into the clubhouse after games, most players eat dinner after the games. Some eat so long after games that we miss our deadlines while they digest properly. I have to admit, this is a question I just didn't see coming.
This may be a weird question, but how do the players keep their white pants so white? What do they use to wash them in? -- Mary Kreczmer, Chicago
It's dishwater liquid, Mary, and you're soaking in it! Actually, I think that was a 1960s TV commercial. I will ask Otis the clubhouse guy if he can give me the secret to their whiter-than-white pants, but this may take some actual reporting, so give me some time.
It seems to me that the Cubs now have two Todds sitting on the bench who should play every day. Why can't the Cubs move Grud'zilla to short and have Walker be our everyday second baseman? -- Scott Kaeser, Juneau, Alaska
Grudzielanek says he'll do anything to help the team, but Dusty doesn't want him at short on anything other than an emergency basis. He said it's not like riding a bike and that it would be hard for G-etc. to turn the double play at short again after not playing it for years. I know this is what everyone wants to see, because half the e-mails I received were a derivation of this question. E-mail that question to Ask Dusty next time.
Although I truly appreciate the job Todd Walker has done at second base, why does it seem that every journalist and commentator is so dead set that Mark Grudzielanek will not be with the Cubs next year? -- Doug Kraus, New Orleans
I think everyone is counting Grudzielanek out except Grudzielanek, and he certainly can play his way back if he stays injury-free the rest of the way and plays like he did last year. Walker deserves to be back, too, however, so it's another tough call for Hendry.
It's Rey Ordonez right? You're not taking questions about Rey Ordonez during this Q&A on the Cubs, correct? -- Andrew Callahan, Charlottesville, Va.
Right. He hasn't stopped by my cubicle in a month. No talking.
Would the Tribune consider hiring Magglio Ordonez, since Alou is getting old? Magglio might be showcasing himself against the Cubs by working hard at recovering from injury. It would be nice to have Magglio and he has stated that he wants to stay in Chicago. -- Janie Sanchez, Berwyn
I don't want to speculate on , but I understand there's an opening for an e-mail question-and-answer columnist, and I think he'd be a perfect fit at the Trib. We could market him better, too.
Paul, what uniform do you think Maddux will wear when he is voted into the Hall of Fame? Given the fact that he started and assuming he finishes with the Cubs maybe after two or three years. Or will it be the Braves when he was just hitting his prime? What are your thoughts on this subject? -- Jeffrey L. Wolber, Portersville, Pa.
I have none. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind until just now. Let me think. OK. The Braves. He didn't leave ripping the organization and he won many more games there. Wait. No. The Cubs. He was more appreciated and beloved here (by fans). OK. I give.
In about 1950-51 our coach took us to a Cub game and wanted us to "experience" a vendor named "Gravel Girtty" He was quite an entertainer. I'm 66 years old. Is there anyone who might remember him? Hope you respond! -- Jon D. Swift, Wisconsin Dells
Anyone who remembers Gravel Girty, please contact Jon D. Swift at the Wisconsin Dells.
I know it is very early for these kinds of questions, but if the Cubs were to make the playoffs how would the pitching rotation look? You need to go with a four-man rotation with the one-two punch we have, but who does Dusty ask to move to the pen? The choice is likely between two all-stars and a 300-game winner. -- Bruce Wilderness, San Swandibo
Yes, it is a little early for that kind of question, but it's certainly something to think about for the next three months while the Cubs drive you absolutely nuts. I think we can wait until September to get into this topic, and though I haven't officially banned it, I'd like to sit on it for the time being. Thanks for your patience.
Why is it that baseball teams often play the same teams over and over again throughout the season? With so many teams, shouldn't there be more variety in the schedules? -- Joe Wooten, Crossett, Ark.
Baseball revolves around the Yankees and Red Sox and believes it couldn't have 18-20 Yankees-Red Sox games a year without having the other teams play their own division rivals that many times. The obvious solution is to go back to the old schedule where everyone hosts every other league team at least two series a year, but still rig it so that the Yankees-Red Sox can still play each other 18-20 times. We already know how that one turns out.
I am a lifelong Cub fan. I made a diving catch for a foul ball at the Cubs vs. Angels game on June 12. Every Cub fan in the vicinity was on their cell phone telling me WGN was replaying the catch back home. Even Chip and Steve gave me the thumbs-up and a wave. WGN won't send me a tape of the game. Any suggestions on how to get that game on tape so my grandkids will believe me? Thanks. -- Virgil Williams, Los Angeles
No, but your grandkids should believe you even without videotape evidence, especially if Chip and Steve gave you a thumbs-up and a wave.
Why do baseball managers wear uniforms? Remember old photos of Connie Mack when he managed and he was dressed in suit and tie? -- Tony Geraci, The Villages, Fla.
I think it would be wise for baseball to go back to the Connie Mack style, because we see some great arguments between Dusty Baker in a pin-striped, double-breasted Hugo Boss suit and a home plate ump who's not on Atkins.
Hi, Paul. It's pretty clear at this point that the Cubs need a reliable closer, and not a cardiac kid. I might be on glue, but is there any way the Cubs could get John Smoltz? By July, the Braves should be out of contention, and the Cubs certainly have the prospects. Smoltz is the real deal. What do you think? -- Chris Ganchoff, San Francisco
That's an interesting idea and I think Smoltz would be a good fit with the Cubs, but Atlanta is still in a race and the Cubs appear to be in Hawkins' corner for now. He'll get another few weeks to prove he can be a consistent closer.
When I read the headline to your July 2nd article titled, "Cubs '05 uni for Ordonez?", it scared me to death. I thought you meant REY Ordonez! Anyway, speaking of short stops, what are the chances of the Cubs going after Nomar this year or next? We need a shortstop, and A-Gonz will be A-Gone next year. Nomar seems miserable in Boston, and it seems like it would be an even trade of expiring shortstop contracts short term with opportunities next year for both teams. -- Patrick Terry, Indianapolis
Thanks for all the relevant e-mails and also for the suggestions for a new song to replace "Jump" as the pre-game theme song. Of course, 90 percent of the responses came after we already ran the column. I discovered that Houston's Jeff Kent uses Incubus' "Megalomaniac" as his signature song when he bats at Minute Maid Park. That was my pick for Cubs song, but no one apparently agreed. I'd like to salute Jeff Kent for having such a great sense of humor.
Our next edition will be an all-trade version of Ask Paul. Send us your July 31 deadline trade ideas, and I'll make sure to let you know how really insane they are.
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