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Tag: Paul Konerko

Behind Enemy Lines

Seriously, though, who cast that movie?

I had not been to a Cubs-Sox game since Cub Killer Jose Valentin hit a walkoff home run off even bigger Cub Killer Antonio Alfonseca TEN YEARS ago. Good lord, we’re all old now. Almost a decade later, I found myself back in U.S. Cellular Field last night.

The Cubs looked downright competent, and Jeff Samardzija made the Sox look downright incompetent. The first hit he allowed in the bottom of the third inning was promptly erased by a double play. That hit and a walk to Konerko in the 5th were the only baserunners Samardzija allowed before a minor Sox uprising in the 9th inning. He was outstanding, and he earned his first shutout in the MLB.

Far more entertaining than Samardzija’s mastery, however, was the spectacle that was a Cubs-Sox game in 2013. So help me god, I had no idea Chicago Cubs and Sox fans still took the BP Cup/Red Line vs. Broken Red Line/Civil War/Battle for Meatball Bragging Rights Series seriously. I assumed after the Great Debacle of 2003 and the 2005 World Series that Never Happened that fans on both sides of town would be smart enough to realize that this silly interleague series doesn’t really matter. They’re not.

Walking to the park past the tailgaters and trainyards, I took a special kind of heckling. The first guy hurled a hurtful, “Get a video board!” barb at me. Words hurt, guy whose girlfriend I was sort of checking out until she turned around and I witnessed (no joke) the full extent of her methadone habit. Not those words, though. Because those words are stupid. Particularly since the White Sox scoreboard operator couldn’t be bothered to give us updates about the happenings of the Blackhawks game. I don’t care about hockey in the slightest, and even I was anxious for an update. The scoreboard operators finally gave us a brief game recap in between innings in the sixth or seventh to let us know the game was tied. That sucked.

Scoreboard watching was one of the most thrilling parts of the end of the 2003 season. Hell, it was even sort of exciting hearing the 9,000 fans in Pittsburgh react to every Penguins goal last week. I hope when the Cubs do get a video board, they operate it competently.

Don Rickles wasn’t done taunting me mercilessly, however. Moments later, when he was marveling at the dozens of bean bag boards and tens of teeth, he observed, “You ain’t even got a [parking] lot!” Had I a microphone in front of me, I would have sipped a glass of water, leaned forward, and said, “I have no rebuttal.” That’s what you got? 105 years of championshipless baseball, and you’re picking on our asphalt? What a waste of a good heckle.

Inside the park, I visited the Bacardi Club for the first time. Cellular could use some better signage. I’m a reasonably-intelligent person. I’ve never been lost in an airport. Not even a French airport. Hell, I spent ten days in Italy without speaking a lick of Italian, and I only got lost once. It took me two tries to get to the second floor of the Bacardi Club, and neither try was worth it. Fortunately, I got to walk the interminably long Cellular ramps twice! Why are those ramps so long? If they graded them any more steeply, would the Sox fans have a hard time negotiating them in their leg shackles?

I was in the 500 box level for the game. My seat was apart from the group I was with, and as I approached it, it was clear that a group of Sox fans were in my seat. I politely let them know that they were in my seat #13, and I showed them my ticket. The buffoon I was speaking to insisted that he also had seat #13, and showed me his ticket, which (no joke) read “Seat #15.” After he blustered and spittled into my face for a few seconds, I asked him what seats he thought he had. When he said the row behind him, and that he might have “fucked up” I just went and grabbed that seat. Not before telling him that, yes, he had definitely fucked up.

After about an inning of being apart from my group, I tried to seat hop to the section next to mine so I could sit near them. I figured with the Hawks game going on, with bad weather, and with a mediocre team playing a bad team, I wouldn’t have a hard time sitting near my group. How I was wrong. Sox fans get REALLY angry when you’re sitting in their seat. I obviously had no issue moving when people came to claim their seats, even if they didn’t bother showing up until the third inning. But don’t be a bitch to me. Some lady showed up with her poor, poor husband and son. When it became obvious that I was in their seats, I immediately jumped up, apologized, and said I was probably in their seats. The woman glared at me, said, “Yeah, you are,” and then proceeded to block me into the aisle so I couldn’t get out. I literally had to say, “Well, are you going to let me out of the row so you can sit down?” She huffed and puffed before backing the fuck out of my way. A half inning later, the bitch was gone, and I took her seat right back. Fucking idiot.

Also of note, the guy behind me when I was in the bitch’s seats dropped this gem when Scott Hairston came up: “Their DH is only hitting .138? Wow.” I didn’t bother pointing out that they don’t have a DH, but it seemed relevant. He also spent a good deal of time bitching to his son about Adam Dunn’s batting average. I’m surprised his son could hear him over the grinding of my teeth.

In the interest of fairness, I’ll share a terrible Cubs fan story. Later in the game when everyone was properly inebriated, I was back to my original seat when a HILARIOUS Cubs fan behind me was explaining the Cubs lineup to his Sox fan companion. When Scott Hairston came up, he said, “This is the part of their lineup that gets a little HAIRY.” Silence. Then, no joke, he David Brented it by saying, “Do you get it? Because his name is HAIRston.” Only then did his friend start laughing. So, not only was it a horrendous joke, but his friend DIDN’T EVEN GET IT.

Oh, and there was a 60+-year-old Sox fan in front of me wearing a rally cap from about the fourth inning on. Because Sox fans are stupid.

Cub fan haters can say whatever they want about Wrigley being the world’s biggest beer garden, but U.S. Cellular seriously sucks. I will update you on its status when I return in another ten years.

The Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time #7: “You Can Call Me” A. “Or You Can Call Me” J. Pierzynski

Michael Barrett lives the American dream.

Before you didn’t watch A.J. Pierzynski cheat the White Sox into the 2005 World Series, there was probably already something in your gut that made you hate him. Your gut was absolutely right. The nicest thing that fellow asshole Ozzie Guillen could say about Pierzynski is, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.” For one thing, I didn’t know assholes could smell their own. For a second thing, there is no way Ozzie Guillen said that as eloquently as that quote is written. For yet another thing, when even OZZIE GUILLEN thinks you’re an asshole, it’s time to take some serious stock of your life. Though Pierzynski’s numbers against the Cubs have dropped in the last few years, I have no qualms about placing the infuriating mullet of A.J. Pierzynski at #7 of the Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time.

Anthony John Pierzynski grew up in Orlando and played high school baseball on a presumably-loaded team that included Johnny Damon. We had a pretty decent team when I played high school baseball, and it was still a huge deal when college scouts showed up at games. It was an even bigger deal if our guys went on to play at big schools. It was a massive deal if they got scouted by pros. And people went absolutely catatonic if those guys got signed to pro contracts. So I’m always amazed when two eventual Major League players play on the same high school team. I suspect Pierzynski was as insufferable as a 17-year-old as he is in life, but that’s beside the point.

After Pierzynski graduated high school, he had the option to play baseball at the University of Tennessee, where his mullet would not only be accepted, but openly celebrated. There would be parades of Mustangs as far as the eye can see, a terrible Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, and a commissioned van mural in his mullet’s honor. Sadly for both the Cubs and for mullet junkies everywhere, Pierzynski chose instead to sign with the Minnesota Twins on June 9, 1994.

Pierzynski was that rare combination of catcher, lefty hitter, and unapologetic asshole that the Twins needed. Pierzynski hit enough for a catcher, and, early in his career, he wasn’t so awful at throwing out baserunners. So, the Twins made him a September call-up at the age of 22, and he made his MLB debut on September 9, 1998. Pierzynski replaced Twins starter Terry Steinbach behind the plate in the bottom of the 5th inning. Pierzynski grounded out in his first MLB at-bat in the 6th, but in the top of the 8th, Angels reliever Trevor Wilson began what SHOULD have been a popular trend, drilling Pierzynski with his second pitch.

Pierzynski had brief call-ups in 1999 and 2000 before finally lasting a full season on the Twins’ roster in 2001. On June 17 of that year, the first-place Twins came to Wrigley Field to take on Kerry Wood and the first-place Cubs. Pierzynski started at catcher and hit 7th in a lineup that included eventual Cubs Jacque Jones and Matt Lawton (and Corey Koskie, to an extent). Pierzynski was delightfully awful, popping out to shortstop and later getting drilled by Kerry Wood before being retired in his last two at-bats on strikeouts by Courtney Duncan and Kyle Farnsworth. The Cubs won 5-4, and it is my sincere hope that Kerry Wood was brought back this year solely to drill A.J. Pierzynski one final time.

In 2002, Pierzynski compiled a .300/.334/.439 line for the Twins and was named to the All-Star Team. He had an even better year in 2003, but he was still A.J. Pierzynski. Rather than soiling Golden Boy Joe Mauer by having him learn under Pierzynski, the Twins sent Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants in an astonishingly lopsided trade. The Twins got back Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano, and Joe Nathan. The best part of the deal for the Giants was that Pierzynski was only around for a year before they released him. He certainly made his impression felt during that time, particularly if you were the testicles of Giants’ trainer Stan Conte. Pierzynski denies the incident ever happened, but the Giants gave up an awful lot of talent for a guy they only kept around for a year, only to release him for nothing.

Since Ozzie Guillen had already castrated the training staff of the Chicago White Sox, they signed Pierzynski prior to the start of the 2005 season. That’s where Pierzynski has done most of his Cub-killing in the course of his 14-season career. In 181 plate appearances against the Cubs, the normally light-hitting catcher has compiled a .304/.376/.447 line with six home runs and 30 RBIs. During the forgettable 2006 season, Pierzynski went 9-19 against the Cubs with two homers, five RBIs, and an absurd .474./.565/.789 line.

The most notable moment of Pierzynski’s career for a Cubs fan is, of course, the events of May 20, 2006. In a moment that would epitomize the meatball nature of the Crosstown Series for years, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punched A.J. Pierzynski in his stupid face. Barrett took offense to the way Pierzynski plowed him over and then slapped his hand onto home plate, which sent the poorly-washed crowd at U.S. Cellular Field into a frenzy. Pierzynski didn’t really deserve to be punched in the face, as it was a clean play. However, Pierzynski deserved to be punched in the face. Period. I could never muster up the ire for Michael Barrett that many Cubs fans had toward him after his altercation with Carlos Zambrano in 2007. That’s because Barrett lived out all of our fantasies by planting a clenched fist on A.J. Pierzynski’s asshole jaw.

Why You Should Hate Him: I don’t feel like this really needs an explanation, but it’s very clearly July 1, 2006. The Cubs had followed an agonizing ending to the 2004 season with an unwatchable 2005 season. They started the 2006 season right where they left off, only this time with Juan Pierre! If you were still watching by July 1, you might remember this infuriating little game. Greg Maddux started for the Cubs at Wrigley Field and pitched well enough, giving up four earned runs in six innings. He left a 5-4 Cubs lead to the bullpen. A bullpen that included the likes of Scott Eyre and Ryan Dempster. Pierzynski was already 2-3 off Maddux with a pair of singles, but things would get worse. Well, better for him. Worse for humanity. In the top of the 7th, Dusty Baker inexplicably failed to leave Maddux in the game to face Paul Konerko, opting instead to go to Scott Eyre. Eyre worked a full count to Konerko before giving up a game-tying solo home run. The Cubs got the lead back on a Jacque Jones solo shot in the bottom of the 7th, and they led 6-5 into the top of the 9th. Dempster came on to close out the game and got two quick outs. Then, Dempster gave up a slow grounder to Ross Gload for a base hit. Then, Dempster walked Jermaine Dye. Then, Dempster served up a three-run homer to A.J. Pierzynski. How any Cubs fan can ever enjoy watching Ryan Dempster pitch is absolutely beyond me. The Cubs went down meekly in the 9th inning against the human tarp that was Bobby Jenks, and the Sox won 8-6.

Did You Know? If Bob Barker needed money this badly, I would have loaned him some.

Also, the ONE TIME A.J.’s mullet would have fit in perfectly, and he didn’t wear it? Lame.

The Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time #20: Paul “LEE KAY!” Konerko

I LOVE BASEBALL!!!

Paul Konerko has long been the most popular member of the White Sox. And why not? Sure, he looks like a record-store clerk, but he can hit, and he allegedly help the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005. Plus, the overweight female population alone has kept XXL Konerko jerseys in huge demand. His fans’ jerseys, however, aren’t the only XXL thing about Konerko’s career. The first baseman’s plus-sized career numbers against the Cubs earned him the 20th spot on the Top 79 Cub Killers of My Time.

Konerko was taken by the Los Angeles Dodgers as the 13th overall pick of the 1994 draft. He made his Major League debut as a September callup on September 8, 1997. The eventual World Series champion Florida Marlins were in Los Angeles to take on Bill Russell’s Dodgers. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Russell called on Konerko to pinch hit for Mike Harkey, and Konerko delivered a single off of Dennis Cook for his first of many MLB hits.

Konerko’s debut against the Cubs came the following season. On April 17, 1998, the Dodgers were visiting Wrigley Field with their entourage of famous fans more annoying than- well, the cast of Entourage, for starters. Konerko started at first base against Cubs starter Mark Clark. Clark was knocked around early, and Konerko’s first of many career hits against the Cubs–a third-inning RBI single to give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead–chased Clark from the game. Konerko finished the day 2-5 with one RBI, and his Cub-killing career was off and running just like his female fans absolutely never are.

On July 4, 1998, the Dodgers sent Konerko along with morbidly-obese Dennys Reyes to the Cincinnati Reds for Jeff Shaw, cementing their third-place NL West finish. At the end of the 1998 season, the Reds traded Konerko to the Chicago White Sox for Mike Cameron. Fortunately for the Cubs, Konerko was out of the National League Central. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Konerko was on the one American League team guaranteed to face the Cubs at least six times a year. And face him he did that just verily.

Throughout the course of Konerko’s 15-year career, he has compiled a .294/.351/.576 slash line against the Cubs. In only 61 games started against his crosstown rivals, Konerko has hit 18 home runs and driven in 49 RBIs. If you’re one of those Moneyball-lovin’, New Age, commie stat-lovers, you would probably project those numbers out to a full season of starts versus the Cubs. And you would come to the grim realization that, if Konerko started 162 games versus the Cubs, he would hit 48 home runs and drive in 130 RBIs. Of his seventy hits against the Cubs, the slowest thin white man on the planet has even managed to leg out 13 doubles, score 34 runs, and swipe a base. Konerko versus his fattest female fan in a foot race would be a thrilling photo finish, assuming the race ever ended.

As if the meatball chants of “PAUL-EE! PAUL-EE! PAUL-EE!” aren’t annoying enough, since Konerko joined the White Sox, their record against the Cubs is 43-35, with a 20-19 record at Wrigley Field. Prior to Konerko’s arrival, the Sox were 2-4 in their regular season matchups. Coincidence? Almost definitely.

Perhaps watching all of the hair on Konerko’s head slowly migrate to his chin will give you some consolation for Konerko’s status as a Cub Killer. Or perhaps you should just root for him to retire.

Why You Should Hate Him: June 28, 2002. After the Cubs’ surprising yet ultimately unsuccessful run at a postseason appearance in 2001, there was some residual hope during the 2002 season. However, it quickly became clear that Don Baylor was stupid, Fred McGriff was dead, and Todd Hundley was drunk. The Cubs built an early 8-0 lead behind Cubs starter Kerry Wood at Comiskey Park, and it looked to be as fun day as can be had at that park for Cubs fans. Then, the wheels fell off. Wood drilled Konerko in the bottom of the 4th, and then Carlos Lee drove in the slow-footed Paulie K. with a single to make it an 8-1 Cubs lead. In the bottom of the 5th, Magglio Ordonez drove in former Cub Kenny Lofton to cut the lead to 8-2. With Ordonez on first, Konerko hit the first pitch he saw into the seats to make it an 8-4 game. Despite two walks and a wild pitch in the previous inning, Wood took the mound in the bottom of the 6th. After another walk and a single, Wood was pulled in favor of Jeff Fassero. Fassero couldn’t get either of the hitters he faced, surrendering a walk and an RBI single. The score was now an uncomfortable 8-5 Cubs with the bases loaded, one out, and Frank Thomas, Ordonez, and Konerko coming up. Naturally, Baylor brought in former firefighter Joe Borowski to put out the flames. Thomas hit a sacrifice fly to make it an 8-6 game. Ordonez singled to make it 8-8. Konerko homered to make it 10-8. The Cubs rallied in the top of the 7th to make it a 10-9 game, but then Kyle Farnsworth quelled any hope of a Cubs win by surrendering three runs in the bottom of the 8th. The Sox walked away with a 13-9 win, and Konerko finished the day 4-4 with two home runs, four RBIs, four runs scored, a double, and a HBP. Apropos of nothing, Lofton drew FOUR walks that day. Holy shit. But, hey. At least no one ran on the field and punched anyone. The classy White Sox fans kept all that nonsense in the stands, where it belongs.

Did You Know? In 2011, the Cubs helped Konerko along on his way to a little bit of White Sox history. Paulie hit his 385th career homer off the Cubs on June 20, 2011, passing Harold Baines on the all-time home run list. The very next day, Konerko homered again and became the fifth player in White Sox history to homer in five consecutive games. As the poetic Hawk Harrelson would say, “YES! YES! YES! HISTORY!!!”

The Muskbox Comes Late; Or Sometimes Not at All

The Muskbox is generally a non-hilarious mix of the same four questions over and over again.

  1. WHY DID THE CUBBIES GIVE UP ON KERRY WOODS???
  2. WHY ISN’T MICAH HOFFPOWER GETTING MORE PLAYING TIME???
  3. WHY WON’T THE CUBS TRADE FOR ADAM DUNN???
  4. WHAT TIME IS THE GAME ON JUNE 23RD???

But this week’s Muskbox accomplishes a first.

And I mean “first.”

EVERY SINGLE QUESTION is about first base. Every one of them. Worst Muskbox ever? That’s a high bar, but…perhaps.

Is Tyler Colvin a legitimate possibility for first base?

If Todd Ricketts can spray a fire hose at a toilet (HINT: he can’t), there’s no reason Tyler Colvin can’t play first base, Alfonso Soriano can’t play second base, and Mike Quade can’t do Head & Shoulders commercials.

If so, why did the Cubs not see what he could do there after they traded Derrek Lee?
— Jim W., Oak Park, Ill.

Because this franchise is more horrendous than getting AIDS from watching Jersey Shore.

CARRIE: Colvin hasn’t been totally ruled out to play first.

Neither have Xavier Nady, Mark Grace, a cardboard cutout of Mark Grace, and the concept of time.

CARRIE: It would be in his interest to dust off his glove…

How filthy IS that clubhouse? NICE JOB, TODD.

CARRIE: …and take some grounders there when he’s working out this offseason in Mesa, Ariz., at “Camp Colvin.”

Stop it with that. That’s twice. It’s not going to catch on.

CARRIE: There are several people in the Cubs organization who think he can make the switch.

That was actually just Todd Ricketts disguised as several people in the organization.

CARRIE: The last time Colvin played there was early in college, and that was part-time.

So, Colvin has as much experience at playing first base as I do at getting mono and drawing dicks in permanent marker on my roommate’s face.

CARRIE: After Lee left, the Cubs didn’t want to put Colvin into a game until he was truly comfortable there.

Have you seen this dork? He has spent his entire life looking and being uncomfortable.

CARRIE: It’s better to have him make mistakes at Fitch Park in Mesa than in front of 40,000 at Wrigley Field.

Don’t worry. Next year, it’ll be more like 35,000.

CARRIE: But if general manager Jim Hendry can move an outfielder…

…I bet it won’t be Marlon Byrd. Hendry will throw out his back.

CARRIE: — Kosuke Fukudome, for example — then Colvin would stay in the outfield and the Cubs would try to add a first baseman.

And most likely fail.

What do you think about the possibility of signing Paul Konerko to be the power-hitting first baseman the Cubs need to replace Lee? Konerko is also a good fielding first sacker.
— Rich S., Cantonment, Fla.

With what their budget is going to be next year, there’s a much greater possibility of them signing Paul Bako.

CARRIE: That would certainly add some interest to the Cubs-White Sox Interleague games.

Which would increase my interest in that series from zero to one.

CARRIE: However, the Cubs would prefer a left-handed-hitting first baseman.

Wait. IF the Cubs could actually afford Konerko, they wouldn’t try to sign him because he’s right-handed? This franchise is worse than watching Jim Belushi eat oatmeal.

CARRIE: Konerko does have a career .308 average at Wrigley Field. Konerko, who will turn 35 in March, also doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the Cubs’ budget after being paid $12 million this past season.

There’s no way the Cubs can afford Paul Konerko’s salary AND the cost of Todd Ricketts’ comic book collection.

I’ve heard much talk and reports about Adam Dunn to play first base…

You must get good reception on your tin foil helmet.

…but I’ve heard little regarding veteran Lyle Overbay…

You haven’t heard that he’s completely awful?

…and nothing about a younger option in Adam LaRoche. I don’t think the Cubs should throw money at the problem…

No worries there, pal.

…and it seems these two veterans could be great in that role. What do you think?
— Brian M., Texarkana, Ark.

True. If you combine all of LaRoche’s home runs and RBIs from last year with Overbay’s, you would have yourself a great first baseman.

CARRIE: Overbay and LaRoche are more viable options.

…than Micah Hoffpauir.

CARRIE: Overbay, 33, hit 37 doubles and 20 homers with 67 RBIs in 2010, batting .243. He’s averaging nearly 17 homers a season over the last seven years. There’s a stat to be considered with defensive players called zone rating. It’s the percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive “zone.” Overbay ranked fifth among Major League first basemen with a ZR of .894 in 2010 and handled 150 double plays.

Presumably, 148 of those double plays involved him standing on first base, watching his SS and 2B make a great play, and catching the ball.

CARRIE: The ZR leaders at first were Ike Davis, Daric Barton, Adrian Gonzalez and James Loney. LaRoche ranked 11th (.872), Lee 12th (.865), Dunn 21st (.822) and Konerko 22nd (.778). LaRoche isn’t that much younger than Overbay. Read on.

You know what this means, don’t you? The Cubs told Carrie to prepare for your 2011 starting first baseman. Lyle Overbay. Yippee.

Why has LaRoche’s name not been mentioned in the first-base derby? He had excellent production last year for the D-backs.
— Jack W., Chicago

Holy shit, really? This couldn’t have been addressed in the IMMEDIATELY-PRECEDING question?

CARRIE: LaRoche, 31, did hit 25 homers, 37 doubles and drove in 100 runs for the D-backs, but he batted a less-than-excellent .261 and struck out a career-high 172 times. Earlier this month, Arizona declined its half of the $7.5 million mutual option and paid him a $1.5 million buyout. If Arizona offers LaRoche arbitration and he rejects it to sign elsewhere, the D-backs will receive a sandwich-round pick in next year’s First-Year Player Draft because he’s a Type B free agent.

JIM HENDRY: Did someone say sandwich?

When Victor Martinez was in Cleveland…

…he lamented the fact that he lived in fucking Cleveland.

…he played both catcher and first base. Is there any chance the Cubs look at Martinez for first base? I know he’s going on 32, but he’s averaged over 20 homers and had a .300 average throughout his career and has a .994 fielding percentage at first.
— Brian L., Mt. Prospect, Ill.

Unless Shawon Dunston is your shortstop, a .994 fielding percentage at first base isn’t that impressive, and I spent my whole “career” at first base. It involved a good deal of running five strides to my left, standing on the base, and catching a chest-high throw.

CARRIE: The Red Sox reportedly want Martinez back. The Tigers are reported to be targeting him as well, and they would have him share catching duties, start at first and be a designated hitter. Martinez is a Type A free agent, he’ll cost a top Draft pick and be expensive.

Also, he will presumably cost more than Spider-Man #398, “Web of Death.”

Why not consider Lance Berkman at first?
— Mike B., Adairsville, Ga.

Off the top of my head? He’s a bubble-biter.

CARRIE: Berkman, who wants to play first on a regular basis, has seen his power numbers slip.

Carrie Muskat, who fucking LOVES to use commas to separate out parenthetical elements, has seen EVERYTHING slip.

CARRIE: The switch-hitter, who will turn 35 in February…

Good lord.

CARRIE: …spent 41 days on the disabled list in 2010 because of knee and ankle injuries. He also hit .171 against left-handers. Berkman appears to be a better fit for an American League team that can use him as a designated hitter.

The American League, which uses a designated hitter, is just the league for a fat slob like Berkman.

There is an outstanding defensive first baseman who had 111 RBIs in 2009 and is coming off a down year and may be available for less than market value.

WHO? HOW COULD HE HAVE POSSIBLY FLOWN UNDER THE CUBS’ RADAR???

Are the Cubs even considering signing Lee?
— Bill R., Mesa, Ariz.

You tricky sonofabitch.

CARRIE: Sorry, but no. Lee, 35, is a stellar defensive first baseman. But he’ll be coming back from offseason thumb surgery, he hit .233 in the first half of 2010 and batted .234 with runners on base for the season. It’s time to move on.

And now for your weekly, “WHY DID THE CUBS FUCK OVER RYNE SANDBERG?” update.

CARRIE: Who have we missed? Aubrey Huff, who turns 34 in December, is a free agent. In his last seven seasons, Huff has played for five different teams, including the defending World Series champion Giants. Who could’ve predicted 26 homers, 86 RBIs, an .891 OPS and a ring — for $3 million?

Plus, he’s SO CLASSY (NSFW So very, VERY NSFW).

It seems the Cubs have a good first-base prospect in Micah Hoffpauir.

He’s definitely my favorite 54-year-old prospect in the system.

Given the opportunity to play every day, he may be a good fit at first. He’s left-handed and can hit for power. He’s shined in the Minors and should hit better in the Majors, given the chance to play regularly. Do you think the Cubs will take a chance or look elsewhere?
— Jim J., Tuckerton, N.J.

Maybe they’d take a chance if Hoffpauir had the balls of an Andy Bernard.

CARRIE: Hoffpauir has been a star at Triple-A Iowa (.294 career average, .866 OPS), but he has now played 162 big league games over three seasons and has a .251 average, including .173 (9-for-52) this past season in 24 contests. In 2009, with regular at-bats, he hit .239.

After 17 Muskboxes dedicated to Micah Hoffpauir, we finally get to the root of the issue. Micah Hoffpauir sucks.