Dan Wetzel Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges …

Posted in Football, Mob Behavior, The Law at 7:55 pm by

In the last few weeks we’ve witnessed Arizona race-profiling passed into laws that allow US citizens tossed into jail for looking Mexican.  Then we got the spectacle of a United States Senator, Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman, proposing that US citizens accused of terrorism be stripped of their citizenship and rights before a trial.  This sort of 2010 insta-jury thinking is a bit much for me.  I’m more used to what Dan Wetzel pulled today filling up column space about Lawrence Taylor’s arrest on charges he raped a kid. This is trial by news hack. Wetzel manages to utterly destroy Taylor in a mere six paragraphs before righteously declaring:  “Taylor™s side of the story remains to be heard.”  Wetzel then quickly corrects this with: “His defense better be a strong one. If this isn™t some incredible case of mistaken identity, it™s difficult to envision an innocent scenario here.” And we all know it’s the job of reporters to envision the end of their story, rather than report it.

I have no more sympathy with Taylor than I do in Wetzel’s demanding his head before judge and jury hear him out.  This isn’t a case like Ben “Big Rape” Roethlisberger, where the cops on the scene also took fan boy pictures with him and destroyed the crime scene.  The way it looks, Taylor is answering to authorities who are making serious charges.  In this case, both sides will be heard — which is, sadly, an improvement over recent Roethlisberger news. Wetzel’s emotional attack is made up of understandable outrage at the charges (which are sickening) but he should post this stuff to message boards.


Joe Queenan Hates Yankee Fans So Much He Can’t Even Stand Imaginary Ones

Posted in Baseball at 6:30 pm by

[Pictured:  I couldn't find an image of Spencer Tracy as the Yankee-loving Cuban from the movie of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, but this reenactment from the CSTB photo dept pretty much sums it up.]

Fueling the fire for Yankee fans who like to bash The New York Times as anti-Bomber comes today’s column by … well I don’t know what Joe Queenan has been doing since he used to be an all around crank about middle-brow culture, and I can’t read his Wikipedia page just now as my kid is throwing popsicle sticks at the TV … but like politicians and prostitutes who all become respectable with age, any writer hanging around New York City long enough ends up in The New York Times.  Queenan offers up a solid anti-Yankee fan rant (via @gregmitch) here on the literary faux pas of assuming you’ll sympathize with any character in literature who loves the Yankees.  The column began as Queenan read David Benioff’s City of Thieves, or at least the first two pages thereof:

The narrator, the young boy™s grandson, reveals on Page 2 that after the war, his grandfather came to America and became a œdevout New York Yankees fan. I found this revelation crushing. The idea that someone who had escaped the siege of Leningrad would then voluntarily join the evil empire in the Bronx struck me as repellent. So I set the book aside and donated it to my library. Maybe some Yankees fan would enjoy it. I sure as hell wouldn™t.

I do not object to Yankees fans in principle, so long as they are homegrown, preferably natives of the Bronx or Yonkers. (Yankees fans born in Queens or Brooklyn, it goes without saying, are Iscariots.) But those of us who grew up in fiendishly inbred sports towns like Philadelphia, Cleveland, St. Louis and even Boston cannot stomach the kind of parvenu, out-of-town front-runner who becomes a œdie-hard Yankees fan without any moral, cultural, ethnic, genetic or geographical connection with the team. And like most Americans, I reserve my greatest antipathy for the millions of bogus Yankees fans in the pink or green or red Yankees caps one routinely runs across in London, Rome, Sydney, Stockholm and Mombasa. Or, if driving, runs over.

34 Years Ago Today, Rick Monday Fought The Hippies (And The Hippies Lost)

Posted in Baseball, History's Not Happening at 12:15 pm by

(ED NOTE – On April 25, 1976, fans at Dodger Stadium paid to see a clash  between Los Angeles and the Cubs, but an impromptu game of Capture The Flag broke out in the outfield.   Ben Schwartz’ post on the subject was originally published in this space on 4/25/06)

30 years ago, former Cub Rick Monday saved an American flag from being burned on the field of Dodger Stadium. A legendary moment, recounted on the Cubs web site, but until now I never knew the important role Tommy Lasorda, then a Dodger 3rd base coach, almost played in Rick Monday’s heroic act. As Tommy modestly recounts:

“A lot of people don’t know this, but he beat me to the flag,” recalls Lasorda. “I saw Rick start running over from center field to left. I didn’t know what it was, but as soon as I saw him start, I took off and I ran out there, and of course, by that time, Rick had picked up the flag and continued running. When I got there, I see these two guys and I told them, ‘Why don’t one of you guys take a swing at me?’ because there were 50-something thousand people in the ballpark and I only wanted them to swing at me, so I could defend myself and do a job on them.”

Now you know the rest of the story …


Cubs Enter New Era of Yankee Level Spending, Debut New $91 Mil Set-Up Man

Posted in Baseball at 6:29 pm by


[Cubs'  ex-ace and only no-hit set-up man, Carlos Zambrano, seen here with die-hard Cub fan Fidel Woo-Woo Castro, considers this a transitional move until "the Cubs get to the play-offs." So, Z is cool with this until September 2011?]

All talk of of a conservative spending Ricketts regime (yes word-cops, I said “regime”) ends today as Lou Piniella moves Carlos Zambrano, bananas and all, to the bullpen.  Who’d a thought Carlos Silva would hold a starting position longer than Big Z?   The main reason, besides Zambrano’s refusal to be typecast as an “ace,” is that Theodore Roosevelt Lily is back from rehab and ready to start.  Carrie Muskat reports it all here, with the sad numbers speaking for themselves — Zambrano’s ERA is even high for the Cubs ‘pen.  Considering that the Cubs starting ERA with Z is 2.16, one can only hope Lily will give the North Side some real traction.  Too bad Youtube won’t allow a Hitler Finds Out Zambrano is in the Bullpen video.  Also, the pressing deadline of this post prevents me from a good Conan O’Brien bumping a guy from prime time George Lopez analogy, but just so you know, it’s there.

Overall, it’s a bold, creative move on Piniella’s part.  For a guy who couldn’t budge Fonzie from the lead-off spot last year, this is a big deal.  It should also shut up most of Z’s critics who think he’s an unmanageable egomaniac.  Ms. Muskat relates it all today:

“We need help in the eighth-inning role right now, and that’s what we’re trying to help ourselves in,” Piniella said.

Zambrano said Wednesday that he told Piniella he expects to be back in the rotation when the Cubs are in the playoffs.

“He did mention that,” Piniella said. “The playoffs are a long, long, long way away. Let’s just get through April right now.”

The move was expected to be temporary, but no one on the Cubs will say how long Zambrano will be in the bullpen.

“Let’s not put a time frame on it — let’s not do that,” Piniella said.

Zambrano will need a little more time to warm up before his relief appearances, and Piniella plans on using him only for one inning or 1 1/3 innings and not stretching him out too far.

“It’s a shock,” Marmol said of the news. “I never thought Zambrano would be in the bullpen. He’ll help the team, that’s what he says. I agree with him.”

Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, Randy Wells and Tom Gorzelanny entered Thursday’s game with a combined 2.16 ERA in 11 starts. Zambrano was 1-2 with a 7.45 ERA in his four starts. The bullpen needs reinforcements, having compiled a 1-6 record and 6.14 ERA.


Investopedia, Your Sociopath to Success

Posted in Greedy Motherfuckers, Money at 9:23 am by

[Lenny Dykstra: Hit with charges of sexual harassment, racism, and financial chicanery, yet claiming this week to be worth $100 million “ ah, nothing an hour of Suze Orman couldn't fix.]

Hey, I like schadenfreude as much as the next guy.  In this economy, it’s my best entertainment dollar.  Still, I found Mark Riddix’ article on “investopedia.com” “ in which he details the respective financial collapse of, among others, Mike Tyson, John Daly, and Lenny Dykstra “ a pretty lame, opportunistic use of celebrity to sell Investopederast’s sponsor bullshit.   Riddix offers up some sad statistics via Sports Illustrated that 80% of NFL players consider bankruptcy within two years of retirement and 50% of NBA players are broke within five years.   Yes, you could boil it down, as Riddix does, to bad planning and bad business sense.  That’s an especially convenient analysis for a site that loads its articles themselves with links to gouging, amoral corporations like Bank of America (sure, I’d like advice on getting a Federal bailout just like BoA’s) or that peddle financial planning books .  But, in the cases of Tyson, Daly, and Dykstra, and many others, do you need a psychologist to see some truly screwed-up emotional, chemical, and criminal behavior?   Yes, Scottie Pippen buying a Gulfstream IV is retarded “ but is an egomaniac who thinks he needs a Gulfstream IV going to hire the right financial planner or buy the right book off Investopod in the first place?  It all completely misses the point of what happens when you offer people with no emotional stability piles of cash and massive celebrity because they have one marketable skill.  It means nothing to them.  How do you financially plan, or even understand what your planner is telling you, when you got through the NCAA on jock passes?  How do you financially plan when you’re a violent drunk or a sociopath?  Riddix goes thru these people and critiques their spending v.  income on a balance sheet.  It’s like pointing out to an alcoholic that you get drunk when you drink too much, so don’t drink so much.  Mission accomplished. I’m sure all Iron Mike’s problems are answered in a copy of 6 Months to a Better Budget. Writes Riddix:

Mike Tyson
The king of them all is boxer Mike Tyson, who squandered a $350 to $400 million dollar fortune. So what did “Iron” Mike spend his fortune on? Everything. He dropped half a million dollars on a 420 horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. It is one of only 73 Bentley Continental SC’s ever built. The sad part is that’s not even the only Bentley that Tyson owned! He spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune is down for the count. He filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

You can learn a lot by watching the poor financial decisions that many athletes have made. While you may never find yourself in Vegas about to drop $20,000 at the roulette wheel, we all have blind spots when it comes to certain types of spending. Looking at these formers millionaires’ rapid decline, you have to wonder when excessive spending goes from a manageable extravagance to a decision that will land you in the poorhouse. (For further reading check out 6 Months To A Better Budget.)


Cardinal Porn: Chuck Liddell Nude Workout Tape Filmed at Brad Penny’s House

Posted in Baseball, Boxing, Fitness, History's Great Hook-Ups, Modern Art, onanism, poker at 8:42 pm by


[Tony LaRussa's favorite couple: steroid tell-all author and McGwire accuser Jose Canseco and current embarrassment to the Cardinals org, poker-queen Miss Heidi Northcott.]

I’m happy to accuse the St. Louis Cardinals of almost anything, but soft core porn?  Who knew I’d be given the gift today of learning that the video of mixed martial arts bruiser Chuck Liddel and girlfriend Heidi Northcott working out nude was filmed at the home of St. Louis Cardinal Brad Penny?  As to what people do in the privacy of their own homes, I could care less.  However, if I can expand the current list of Cardinal embarrassments “ a DADT policy for injured players, an utterly unbelievable bubble of steroid denial from Tony LaRussa, the on-going family drama of baby-swatting former drug user Mark McGwire, not to mention the annual emotional dramas La Genius struggles with over perceived slights “ if I can add to that laundry list providing production facilities for soft-core fetish shoots, I’m only too happy to do so.  The odd thing is that the nude workout video was made without Liddell or Northcott’s knowledge, and they claim not to know who made it.   So, yes, I’ll be watching Brad Penny and the DL closely this year, looking for broken bones, concussions, busted noses, lost teeth, or anything else that might smack of a mixed martial arts ass-kicking.

The story and much-viewed video can be found here, with the AP reporting that Liddell “claims to have been at the house of Cardinals pitcher Brad Penny when he and Heidi ‘thought it would be funny’ to exercise naked. Liddell denies knowing who shot the footage, and while he does not sound particularly angry about the video, he says explaining it to his children is ‘hard.’”

Keep Hope Alive: Can Milton Bradley Finally Declare Victory?

Posted in Baseball, Racism Corner at 9:57 am by

[Sully, caught in the act by yrs truly in 2009 at AT&T Park's Press Box “ how he got in, I don't know.  "This isn't going up on the Internet is it?" asked Sully.  Weird, because every time I read a Sullivan story I ask the same damn thing.  Ben Schwartz/CSTB]

*** Update:  Looks like the Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer deserves some credit for pushing Byrd as “the anti-Bradley,” which Derrek Lee and the ESPN guys talk about below.  No surprise, since Wittenmyer is the same guy who celebrated Jackie Robinson Day 2009 by asking Milton Bradley to shut up .***

Jeez, I thought I’d written enough about the lameness of Chicago media and Milton Bradley.  If Bradley’s exit from the Friendly Confines did anything, it appears to have done some permanent damage to those who baited him from day one of his signing.  Apparently, the traumatic specter of an uppity black man not “yes, sirring” and “no sirring” the paunchy middle-brows of Chicago’s sporting press can’t be shaken, specifically by the Trib‘s Paul Sullivan.  With Spring Training open, Sully went right back to racially profiling a player not even on the squad anymore versus the Cubs’ new hire, Marlon Byrd.  And without Bradley’s own volatile personality as a distraction, what Sullivan did all last year is now painfully obvious.  Wrigleyville 23 astutely picked up on Sullivan’s obsessions here, via a Sully tweet from camp.  Then, Bruce Levine and Jonathon Hood, without naming Sullivan, brought up his profiling issue (and Wrigley’s racist rep in the league) with Derrek Lee on their ESPN 1000 “Talkin’ Baseball” show:

“It’s ridiculous,” Lee told Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on ESPN 1000′s “Talkin’ Baseball” Saturday morning. “If it was a white guy who came over [to the Cubs] would he be [called] the ‘anti-Milton Bradley’? It just makes no sense. Marlon’s a completely different guy. He wasn’t traded for Milton. He signed here as a free agent, so why even bring Milton Bradley’s name into it? It really makes no sense and it’s just, again, the media trying to make something out of nothing.”

Bradley’s tenure with Cubs was tumultuous, with the switch-hitting right fielder accusing some fans of hurling racially charged taunts his way at Wrigley Field.

Lee said that Bradley’s accusations and similar comments from former Cub Jacque Jones don’t help in luring African-American players to the North Side.

“It’s definitely not a positive when you’re looking at coming to Chicago,” Lee said. “But I think overall, the positives do outweigh the negatives and we’re baseball players, so we’re pretty good at kind of blocking out all of that outside stuff and focusing on in between the lines. And in between the lines, Chicago’s a good place to play.”

Milton Bradley’s 2009 at Wrigley was a disaster, but at least those who wanted it that way and worked so hard for it are getting some of the credit.


Pete Hamill Ponders Willie Mays, Baseball’s Last Four Sewer Hitter

Posted in Baseball at 1:29 pm by


[Pictured, the real Willie Mays still dwarfed by his mythic image.]

It goes to show you how deeply steroids = baseball itself to some people, when Pete Hamill, reviewing the new Willie Mays bio in The New York Times, writes:

A long time ago in America, there was a beautiful game called baseball. This was before 30 major-league teams were scattered in a blurry variety of divisions; before 162-game seasons and extended playoffs and fans who watched World Series games in thick down jackets; before the D.H. came to the American League; before AstroTurf on baseball fields and aluminum bats on sandlots; before complete games by pitchers were a rarity; before ballparks were named for corporations instead of individuals; and long, long before the innocence of the game was permanently stained by the filthy deception of steroids.

In that vanished time, there was a ballplayer named Willie Mays.

And how.  For the record, ‘Ol Man Hamill appears to approve of desegregated baseball, night games, and (maybe) West Coast baseball.  And as a blogger without a copyeditor, I appreciate his use of sentence fragments throughout his piece.  Still, his dreamy memories and tired nostalgia in reviewing the new James Hirsch Willie Mays biography make your teeth grind all over again re the steroids era.  I’m guessing this is the first thing Hamill ever read about Willie Mays, since his impression of WM derives almost entirely from when Hamill was 12.

I mentioned Mays last week when Ernie Banks went off on steroids and Sammy Sosa.  Do the amphetamine driven ballplayers of Mays’s era deserve the same asterisks and loathing?  Hamill says that San Francisco’s windy Candlestick Park probably robbed Mays of over 100 HRs in his career.  He glosses over how many extra games, hits, HRs, whatever that Mays’ drug use may have brought him.  Mainly, I guess because Hirsch’s book does the same.  Mays nor anyone else from back then needs an asterisk, nor do Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig for never facing a black ballplayer (well, ok, yes, that last era does).   Mays also gained lots of HRs in his lifetime as new ballparks were built as hitters parks …  However, only the adolescent perfection of Hamill’s pre-teen Brooklyn seems to matter as a yardstick here.  To him, steroids are apparently the only thing in baseball history that has “permanently stained” the innocence of the game.  Not segregation (90 years of it?), not pre-steroid era drugs, bans on free agency, the Black Sox, not the pre-union days of discarded and broken players without health care, not the totally arbitrary “golden age” of NY Babe Ruth baseball  v reality in determining records and Hall of Fame ballots or standards of achievement … nope, just steroids.  And Astro-turf.  Guys like Hamill wring their hands over the day they realized baseball is a big business.  For him, it was when the Dodgers moved to LA.  For a lot of us non-NewYorkers, that’s the day NYC finally ceased to be the center of baseball.

Ok, it’s just a game.  For many of us, it’s history, reflecting life in America.  That’s the real value of Hirsch’s book, and why reexamining Mays’ career again is worth while.   It’s not that Mays needs a takedown.  His career makes him worthy of serious treatment.  Not for this Paul Bunyon hooey of Hamill’s:  “The result: Hirsch has given us a book as valuable for the young as it is for the old. The young should know that there was once a time when Willie Mays lived among the people who came to the ballpark. That on Harlem summer days he would join the kids playing stickball on St. Nicholas Place in Sugar Hill and hold a broom-handle bat in his large hands, wait for the pink rubber spaldeen to be pitched, and routinely hit it four sewers. The book explains what that sentence means. Above all, the story of Willie Mays reminds us of a time when the only performance-enhancing drug was joy.”

If memory serves, that four sewer moment of Mays playing ball on Sugar Hill was staged for Life magazine.  It’s why people recall it so vividly. The press was there to cover it for a national magazine, as PR, to inform kids like Hamill of a myth that they still hold dear and insist on selling us today.


Jay McGwire Joins Jose Canseco in Exclusive Mark McGwire Biographers Club

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science at 5:19 pm by


[Pictured, Mark McGwire reporting to Cardinal Spring Training.]

A second tell-all is on the horizon regarding Mark McGwire’s steroid use, and it begs the questions, a) how much more do we want to know (even about Cardinal steroid use), and b) just how much of a spite generating, grudge-inducing bastard is Mark McGwire to inspire two books on his steroid career?  I mean, this is the “aw garsh” bawling bash brother who burst into tears in front of media while accepting his massive Cardinal contract (while  doping). Apparently, Canseco, and MM’s own biological bashing brother, have no problem laying him out cold.  What’s up?  Not surprisingly, Jay McGwire is on his big brother’s You’re Dead To Me list.  As the AP reports,  the feud apparently started over Mark McGwire giving Jay’s son a swat on the butt.  Of course, what’s left out is that given McGwire’s strength at the time, the kid flew an impressive 600 feet:

Jay McGwire says in the book that he persuaded his brother to start using steroids regularly in 1994 and set him up with a supplier. He says Mark regularly used an array of drugs through 1996 that included Deca-Durabolin, human growth hormone, Dianabol, Winstrol and Primobolan. McGwire later used androstenedione, a steroid precursor that wasn’t banned by baseball until 2004, when it became a controlled substance.

“I’ve already come out and said what I’ve done and apologized,” Mark said. “As far as I’m concerned there’s really nothing new. It’s kind of sad as a brother what he’s done, but I’ve moved on from it.”

Jay McGwire, a former bodybuilder who turns 40 on May 5, said he was introduced to steroids by friends in 1989, beginning with pills of Anavar. He says his brother only gave in to using steroids after an injury-filled 1993 season.

McGwire hit 70 homers for the Cardinals in 1998, shattering Roger Maris’ record of 61 set in 1961.

The brothers haven’t spoken since 2002. They fell out after Jay McGwire’s stepson, Eric, tickled Mark and caused Mark to spill coffee on himself. Mark then swatted Eric on the backside. Jay’s wife, Francine, then refused to attend Mark’s wedding.


Cubs “Inbox”: Does Zambrano Need a Psychiatrist; Ernie Banks, Not My Mr. Cub; Congrats on Sammy Sosa’s Post-Career Ascension to Single Season HR King Status

Posted in Baseball at 7:30 pm by

["Buy me some peanuts and crack ...", can't say Eddie Vedder doesn't have his moments.]

Welcome  to the first Cubs Mailbag of 2010.  Fans may bitch about our No Big Moves Off-Season of 2009-2010, but how about renaming the legendary Cubs Mailbag?  Meet your new Cubs’ “Inbox!”  How Sam Zell missed selling naming rights to it I don’t know.  I for one am sorry not to see the “Captain Morgan Bag ‘o Mailbooty,” but even Zell’s eagle eye missed a nickel here and there.  Nor were fans consulted.  I like the Ricketts’ use of Executive Power here.  The Trib Cubs usually announced even the slightest of moves as a “planned change,” meaning months of No Lights! style fan protests demanding they keep using the old-timey mailbag Ron Santo used.  “Inbox …”, it sounds strangely contemporary for anything Cub “ especially for a ball club residing in a 1914 rusting hulk of a park that remains baseball™s equivalent to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It™s like watching a History Channel show, say on Hitler™s shoe factories (Boots of Destruction:  How the Nazis Walked Across Europe, if you haven’t seen it) and someone said œDrive-thru window.  Well, first things first …

First, Congrats Sammy Sosa!:  I’m catching up here, so I have to mention Mark McGwire’s arrival at Spring Training after his emotional confession of drug use for the Cardinal payroll office on national TV.  What does that mean to the Cubs?  It means Sammy Sosa is the legit single season HR king, that’s what.  Bonds, McGwire, the Ultimate Warrior, and all other needle users aside, Sammy has admitted nothing.  While it will surprise no one with eyes if he does admit it, no one can get it out of him.  The New York Times last year claimed Sammy doped, but the Times was discredited when challenged by the player™s association and the paper had to admit (or as they put it, were “unclear“) that they did not have an accurate list of doped players.  I said last year that the NYTs Michael S. Schmidt was getting fed by the gov’t, and it looks more and more like it every day.  Since the gov™t returned œthe list, Schmidt, has been somewhat silent on the issue and has been reassigned as a burrough ambulance chaser writing up guys in the Bronx beating up their moms with frying pans.

Yes, I thought, if Sammy can just keep his mouth shut for four years, Cooperstown and a Bronze Ranger Cap await. You™d think Cub fans would appreciate Sammy™s unrivaled stature as baseball royalty.  Instead, none other than Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks, asked Sammy to œcome clean.  On the Cardinals, Tony La Russa brings McGwire back in the fold.  With the Cubs, Ernie Banks plays Judge Judy.  Let me offer six words never heard before in Wrigley :  œHey Ernie, Shut the Fuck Up.  Well, not heard since Leo Durocher managed him, anyway.  If Ernie wants questions answered, he should play with kids his own age.  How about Willie Mays’ incredibly contemporary sounding non-denial non-admission of using amphetamines, as reported in the new James Hirsch bio of Willie?   Me, I’d like to hear about how hard Ernie pushed for a decent team out of PK Wrigley.  I’d like some answers from Ernie about my sitting through so many lousy Cubs seasons rather than him becoming one more self-righteous voice on steroids.

The State of the Cubs: With Milton Bradley gone, the Cubs settled into a pretty quiet off-season regarding moves.  Well, they did give their usual vote of confidence to closer Carlos Marmol, who has suffered through Kerry Wood and Kevin Gregg, by offering him a wopping one-year contract.  The common wisdom, as CBS blogger Danny Knobler reports here, is to write off last season to injuries and point out that the squad itself is solid.  Solid, but older “  I have less faith in seeing a 2008 Dempster or Zambrano in 2010 than the official Cub line allows.  With Milton Bradley unavailable to wear a target on his back for all things failing, other questions will come up, like why Piniella and Hendry can’t get Zambrano to work.  Knobler does point out that the Cubs were tied with the Cardinals in first place through August 7, despite all distractions.  The brightest news for me out of Spring Training so far is perhaps Jim Hendry’s prediction of the team’s new owners, the Ricketts Family, as being something like the O’Malleys and the Dodgers.  Walter O’Malley … the guy who tore down Ebbetts Field?  Sounds good to me.  The idea of a forward thinking anything in the Cubs front office is welcome news.

So, Lou Piniella is returning in a much more optimistic mood.  The Cubs finished 2008 with 97 wins and then choked in the play-offs because of their 100-years-without-a-title œstress issues.  Piniella ordered some sports psychology books from Amazon to deal with such psych-outs, resulting in a 2009 83-78 finish, a Cardinal division title, and driving the volatile-but-successful Milton Bradley into an muted depression and failure.  I don™t know, maybe Piniella mistakenly ordered some books o Guanatamo Bay psy-ops books on breaking men down, cuz that was the result.

As to the inbox mailbag itself, the name changed but not the rules:  I answer the actual questions Carrie Muskat receives from Cub fans nationwide, or at least most of downstate, Internet-free Illinois.  I simply answer the questions the way I think Carrie would, if not for contractual obligations and the common courtesy her job requires.

I see that the Cubs signed Nady. I know when he was with the Pirates, he killed us, especially in Wrigley. What are his career numbers at Wrigley? I think the Cubs could definitely use him as a backup to Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano. — Mark A., Momence, Ill.

Hello, Mark.  The Inbox has many fond memories of flying over Momence …  God Bless.  The good news is that Nady has a career .304 average in 28 games at Wrigley Field with two homers, eight doubles, and 15 RBIs.  The bad news is that, as a Cub, he won™t be facing Cub pitching.

I’m pretty optimistic about Zambrano this year. He seems to have a better attitude and looks to be in better shape. Is there any way the Cubs could hire a shrink to work with him in the dugout between innings? Considering his $90 million contract, this could be good insurance. Are there any other options out there for keeping him sane? — James P., Naperville, Ill.

A shrink?   Please see my views on Lou and psychology above.  Mr.Zambrano is a near-sighted, potassium-challenged, banana-eating Gatorade-machine smashing super-talented slouch. He signed his $90 million deal and then, after his no-hitter, declared he was retiring once the contract was up because he™d missed too many Mothers Days.  Can shrinks fix that?  The old Lou Piniella used to do it by kicking Rob Dibble™s ass in the Reds clubhouse, and they won a World Series.  Wow, thinking of that moment makes me wish Kevin Gregg had stayed at least until Opening Day.

I heard the Cubs are staying in Arizona. If this is true, how come there are still talks about moving to Florida? Also, how long would the contract be for the Cubs if they did stay in Arizona? — Justin G., McHenry, Ill.

Hello, Justin.  Good ˜ol McHenry ¦ I miss seeing it™s name roll by on WGN™s Tornado Watch crawls.  As the Irish like to say, may your trailer be right side up an hour before the devil knows your dead.  It™s not true that the Cubs were ever moving to Florida.  As Sam Zell retired from baseball, he scouted locations for a senior home down there.  Within days of arriving at the Golden Age Estate, however, he began leverage-loaning residents™ cash against their walkers and scooters. He was asked to leave, but is currently too heavily anchored in resident pension funds, which he is using as collateral on the walker loans.  Hard to break old habits, I guess.  Updates on this situation will be provided during the season.

Any more news on whether the Cubs will retire Dawson’s number? I know they said they would retire it if he went into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, but I think they should retire No. 8 anyways. Greg Maddux most likely will go into the Hall as a Brave and the Cubs retired his number. Also, I think it’s garbage he’s going in as an Expo. If he wants to go in as a Cub, let him go in as a Cub. It was his career and he knows which organization he benefited with and associates himself with the most. Plus, the Expos have a total of about 17 fans while there are millions of Cubs fans who would appreciate it more. — Joshua S., Elmhurst, Ill.

The Inbox agrees with you Josuha, let the Expos retire his damn number.  Actually, with the Expos out of business, all their numbers were retired.  There™s also the fact that Dawson™s Expos cap was not his choice, but the Hall™s.  After 9 attempts to get into the Hall, he still bitched about it.  You™d think Dawson wouldn™t push the issue, you know?  Like, fine, put me in a Kansas City Pilots hat, just put me in the Hall already.  I guess they™re building up to the next big Cub indictee inductee Mr. Cub, Sammy Sosa.

When do individual game tickets go on sale? — Gary I., Decatur, Tenn.

œIndividual game tickets? Wow, still can™t find a date, Gary?