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by Phil Bencomo
If you found the weekend quiet around here, know that I was enjoying quiet of my own -- camping with the family at Starved Rock.
The majority of campsites weren't flooded, ours included, but the Illinois River was:
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The way the Brewers are playing, they'll be lucky to finish the season above .500. 9-21 over their last 30, and just swept by San Francisco ... the Cubs had better take advantage and give themselves some breathing room.
Now if only the Cardinals would cooperate...
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Number of the day: 54.
As in the percentage of people (as of 11:30 CT) who believe Mark Prior's role is that of a starting pitcher. 3466 votes have been cast.
Which leads me to wonder: What sort of people vote in these online polls? A majority, not merely a plurality, of voters envision Prior as some sort of feel-good Disney character, beating all odds -- and past injuries -- to make a triumphant return to the starting rotation and lead the Cubs to sweet, sweet postseason glory.
Come on now, people.
It's time to face reality. The man can't do it anymore, plain and simple. It happens to all ballplayers, some sooner than others; skills diminish, roles change. Kerry Wood finally came to terms with himself and his capabilities, and he reached the conclusion that Prior should come to. Polls like the linked above only fuel Prior's fantasies; only 15.8% voted "bullpen."
But perhaps I'm selling the voting masses short. The poll does not specify a league -- even a sport -- when it asks, "What should Mark Prior's role be?" So perhaps the public has wisely determined that Prior's only hope of starting again is in a slow-pitch softball league, where he can lob the ball underhand without fear of shoulder and/or elbow damage.
But I doubt Prior will fall so far. The Cubs will follow the Kerry Wood regimen: Sign him to a one-year deal, get him healthy, and then stick him in the bullpen. The Cubs have invested so much time and money that I can't imagine the team will do anything but hold on to him. The opportune time to shed Prior passed years ago; if he amounts to anything, it will be as a reliever. For that reason alone, the Cubs should, and probably will, try him out of the bullpen, making it clear that failure means the end of his career with the Cubs.