— Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I found no fewer than eight positives in the concluding game of the Cubs' mostly miserable 2-4 road trip.

According to the Sun-Times, Tribune Company has pared the field of potential purchasers of the team and the ballpark down to five, with all of those parties having bid at least $1 billion. Mark Cuban is among the five; John Canning, Milwaukee businessman and friend of Bud Selig, is apparently not.

— In light of Kerry Wood's ongoing blister problem, the S-T's Gordon Wittenmyer became the first reporter covering the team to utter those two words, one of which is virtually impossible to spell correctly: Jeff Samardzija.

The blister on [Wood's] right index finger hasn't come close to healing the way the club expected by now, and Wood could be facing another trip to the disabled list after seeing a specialist in Chicago [Thursday]. That might open the way for hard-throwing prospect Jeff Samardzija to make his major-league debut.
Since his recent promotion from Double-A ball, Samardzija has started six games for the I-Cubs, going 4-1, 3.13, fanning 40 and walking 16 in 37 1/3 innings. This past Monday, the former Notre Dame football star held Nashville to 2 hits and 1 run over 6 innings while striking out 9.

— I'll be out of town next week, when manager Ryne Sandberg leads his Class-A Midwest League Peoria Cubs into battle against the Kane County Cougars in the special "Road to Wrigley" game right there at Clark & Addison, but it sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. The Cubs have decided to open the upper deck for the contest, with some of the seats going for as little as $5. All in all, a brilliant promotional idea. Hard to believe the Cubs could have come up with such a thing in the absence of former marketing genius-in-residence John McDonough, now President of the Blackhawks, speaking of which...

— Having lived my entire life in the Chicago area, I am at peace with the idea that the weather here will be completely inhospitable to human life from November 1st through April 30th every year, without exception. However, this year on December 31st, I'm really, really, really going to pray that the high temperature on New Year's Day, 2009 hits about 85 degrees.


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