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Through the looking glass with the Cubs

Times Staff Writer

When he ran into Ozzie Smith at the Hall of Fame ceremony, Ernie Banks stopped in his tracks. Smith wanted to talk about the Chicago Cubs -- the first-place Cubs -- and Mr. Cub was happy to listen.

“He said, ‘Man, Lake Michigan must be upside down. You got the league upside down, man. You ain’t supposed to be in first place,’ ” Banks said.

Banks, 77, has been waiting a long time for his beloved Cubs to reach the World Series, which they last did in 1945. Their second -- and last -- World Series title was in 1908.

Banks says this year is different -- it’s the Cubs’ year.

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“It’s time,” he said. “They’re bringing signs to Wrigley Field and they say, ‘It’s Gonna Happen.’ ”

All the bad stuff that’s been keeping the Cubs out, well, Banks is doing a study.

“Voodoo and hoodoo,” he said. “We got to get on top of that.”

Banks says he is hatching a plan to be included on the Cubs’ World Series roster so he can be the most senior player to ever play in the Fall Classic.

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Meantime, Banks said part of him isn’t going anywhere. That would be the statute of him outside Wrigley.

“When I’m not here, I’m going to be here,” he said.

Trivia time

What was Ernie Banks’ signing bonus and top salary with the Cubs?

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Aw, come on

What’s this, a politician who won’t comment? At a town hall meeting in Wisconsin, the first question John McCain fielded was whether he could settle the Brett Favre-Packers issue.

“I’m not so dumb that I’m going to jump into that one,” McCain said.

Typecasting

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So Barry Switzer is playing himself in an episode of “Amazing Grace.” Who else could? Yes, it’s hard to imagine a stand-in for Switzer, unless it’s Will Ferrell or John C. Reilly, who are in everything else.

Giving thanks

That was a nice gesture by Milwaukee Brewers pitcher CC Sabathia, thanking Cleveland fans for their support in a full-page ad in the Plain Dealer. It cost $12,870. Sounds like a lot, but with an $11-million annual salary, Sabathia can afford it. He probably could buy the entire paper.

Trivia answer

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He signed for $2,000 and the most he made for a season was $65,000.

And finally

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia was surprised to learn that the Packers reportedly offered Brett Favre $20 million if he chose retirement: “That is the definition of leverage, somebody offering you $20 million not to play.”

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thomas.bonk@latimes.com


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