At the Letters: Cub fandom, Pujols and paydays

Jeff Passan
Yahoo! Sports

The Cubs. The Lord. Derek Jeter being overpaid. And the Cardinals … getting compliments?

Worthy topics fill the inbox. And pithy, funny and, on occasion, insulting retorts help keep the mailbag interesting.

So without further adieu:

FAITHFUL CUBBIE FANS (Devotion to Cubs is beyond belief)

I just read your column on Cubs fans and loved it. I wish I had an Old Style in my refrigerator right now. Back in '79, my friends and I snuck out of work early a couple times because it was more fun spending the afternoon in Wrigley than waiting around the office for the next assignment. Old Style was $3 then. It's been a long wait. I would really love to see it happen once in my lifetime. I think 39 years is a reasonable amount of patience, don't you? That's right, I became a Cub fan in '69, the summer of the big collapse. So I don't think I need any lectures on loyalty.

Last summer, I returned to Wrigley with my wife and son, and it was my first time back in 27 years. The Old Style cost more, and there were more seats across the street, looking in, but other than that, it looked pretty much the same as in the old days.

John Gelling
San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico

Yegads, man! You perpetuate the senseless mythology of Cub fandom? Why? The attendance records show that there were entire decades, as late as the '60s and '70s, when the Cubs loyal weren't loyal enough to attend. Now they have yuppie doo dahs diggin' the Cubs scene. What absolute rubbish you write. I'm a down-stater here in Illinois and grew up having those "Cubbies" crammed down my throat, and then some button-pushing non-journalist like you comes along and encourages even more misinformation. Gadzooks! I could puke.

Gene Hennig
Champaign, Ill.

Ah, the divisive nature of the Cubs. No baseball team – including the Yankees and Red Sox – inspires such frantic emailing. There's a third dimension aside from the regular love and hate: pity.

By the way: Yegads? Yuppie doo dahs? Gadzooks? How were the last 30 years in your fallout shelter, Gino?

Your comparison between the Cubs and Job was just bizarre. One huge difference between Job and the Cubs is that Job was a righteous man, a good man, who did nothing to deserve the trails that were flung at him. The Cubs were a mismanaged, badly run team for a good portion of their 100-year drought. It was a spiritual test and it wasn't bad luck (for the most part), it was incompetence.

Cambridge, Mass.

I always love it when a good sports writer uses the Bible, and I honestly thought that the reference at the first part of your column would be it, but, man, you know the Book of Job. Thanks for a good rundown on the Cubs' chances. Unfortunately, God isn't managing the Cubs.

Franz Raber
Szolnok, Hungary

See! People can't even agree whether the Job allegory worked.

One difference: Job had faith in God. Cubs fans have faith in the Cubs. One's omnipotent. The other loses.

Daniel Bogle
Springfield, Mo.

Leave it to someone in Cardinals territory.

As a Christian and a Cubbie fan – both requiring faith not based on empirical evidence – I believe that this is the year when all the Cubbie curses are broken, and Chicago, er, ah, Job, gets rewarded for all their/his suffering. The real evidence of the miracle at work has to be Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster. Switching roles has resulted in a resurrection and a new birth (baseball-wise) for both players. There just may be a supernatural push behind all of this, despite Lou's public skepticism. No team wins without a certain, invisible, intangible substance called faith.

Pastor Ray Young
Mt. Carmel, Ohio

File this one away: If the Cubs win the World Series this season, I will be at the Fellowship @ River's Edge the next Sunday just to hear the sermon.

BARGAINS AND BUSTS (Passan’s all-overpaid and all-underpaid teams)

I have to agree with most of the list that you compiled for the overpaid and underpaid players in baseball. However, being a Padres fan, I do have one qualm. In the underpaid category you have Kevin Youkilis at first base. How about Adrian Gonzalez, who is making $875,000 this year and is putting up All-Star and MVP numbers. You mention Youkilis' glove, but I honestly think that Adrian could match him defensively as well.

Matt Rennick
La Mesa, Calif.

Terrible oversight by me. Gonzalez is the right choice. Period. Paragraph.

Your overpaid/underpaid list was good, but some of it didn't make much sense. For example, in 2004 Vladimir Guerrero signed a five-year, $70 million contract. The first four years of the deal speak for themselves. Now he's had a bad 2½-month stretch and suddenly he's overpaid? Conversely, J.D. Drew finally has a good month and he's not overpaid?

Tom Cammalleri
Simi Valley, Calif.

Someone can be overpaid one year and underpaid the next. Performance dictates the denotations, and Drew might be an All-Star this season while Guerrero sits at home for only the second time in 10 seasons despite a much more Vlad-like June: .395 batting average, nearly .700 slugging percentage.

So maybe he deserves a reprieve. His teammates, though? No chance.

Once I saw that you thought Derek Jeter was overpaid I stopped reading because you are clearly myopic or just plain out of your mind.

Bradenton, Fla.

Oh, boy. Here they come.

Jeter is not overpaid. He is well-deserving of what he makes. Look at his history. They are just giving what he deserves. He has been a leader in good seasons and bad. He has never quit on a play or a game or a teammate.

Ryan Hudson

Not to go all Fire Joe Morgan, but let's take this point-by-point:

1) His history has nothing to do with his performance this season.
2) What he deserves should be dictated by what he brings to a team, and this year that's an OPS below league average.
3) If leadership were, in any way, quantifiable, I might have a better time agreeing with your sentiment.
4) Never? Ever? Really? If he did, would he all of a sudden be worth it.

See, these are the arguments on behalf of Derek Jeter: He's been good and he's a great teammate. Which, of course, makes him worth nearly $22 million this season.

Two years ago? Absolutely. Last year. Close enough. This year? No chance.

Derek Jeter? Are we serious here? I understand he is paid excessively, but if you are putting him on the list then put the rest of the Yankees lineup as they are all overpaid. Derek Jeter is the Yankees. He is the captain and the man who gets all the endorsements and advertising. I'd say if anyone on the Yankees is worth what they are getting paid it is Derek Jeter.

Belleville, N.J.

Derek Jeter: Not underpaid because he's able to get endorsements … which pay him even more.

I agree that many sports salaries are over the top. Especially in light of the fact that I started in 67 consecutive games for the Denver Broncos in the '70s, including Super Bowl XII, and had a base of $75,000. However, to put Jeter in that category at this point( June) of the season takes a thick rug. In sports, leadership and character is everything. Jeter has it all and even if his numbers do not improve by August, which I feel they will, he is worth every dime.

Jack Dolbin
Pottsville, Pa.

Let's get this out of the way: I respect any guy who played in the World Football League, then went on to open a business as a chiropractor. That said, is some kind of unspoken element – leadership – really worth paying a man significantly more than his production says he's worth?

I am a grandfather and halfway through nursing school. For me, sports consist of a daily three-mile morning run with my wife and kayaking when we can. What I love about Jeter are the things that I do not hear. Scandal, drugs, bad attitude, paternity suits. He just always wanted to be a Yankee, and through his own hard work, made his dream come true. Bad seasons are facts of life, whether you are a farmer, or the youngest, most admired Captain of the most prolific team in the history of the game. Jeter is not just a Yankee. He is the Yankees, and that is worth more than money.

Forrest Gross
Stonington, Conn.

GOSPEL OF ALBERT PUJOLS (Pujols is a faith healer)

Pujols credits God? When did the spelling of God change to "HGH"?

Ross Storey

I got about 100 versions of this email, another intoning something to the effect of: How can you write about a rapid healer and not mention the specter of performance-enhancing drugs?

Easy: I don't have any evidence to suggest he's using. Someone made that accusation publicly on the morning of the Mitchell Report release, and looked foolish when it later surfaced that Pujols wasn't in the report. The same thing happened when the Jason Grimsley affidavit came out. No one wants to be the third strike.

Hey, if there was any concrete evidence, certainly I'd write something. But to do so strictly on the circumstantial is presumptive and irresponsible, even though HGH is not identifiable by test and Pujols, or anyone, could be using it.

RED-HOT REDBIRDS (La Russa's Cards trucks keep St. Louis afloat)

After asking you earlier this year if you ever wrote anything positive about the Cardinals, this humbled Cardinal fan wants to say thanks for the great read on Tony La Russa and the job he is doing this season. However, if the Cards begin to slide, would you mind ripping into them for the sake of karma?

Rob Clayton
Saltillo, Miss.

Like you had to ask the question. I hate the Cardinals and their fans and their fans' children and their fans' children's teddy bears and Red Schoendienst and Clydesdale. Remember?


I bet you would make a great reporter for row boat racing in the desert.

Jeremy T. Detring
Farmington, Mo.

Uh …

Can I make one little request regarding your Angry Cardinals Fan Letter of the Week? Please don't use the most bilious, illiterate examples you get. They’re painful to read.

Steve Davis

You only have to see one a week. Think about how I feel.

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