Cubs Insider: October 29

Sammy Sosa was in New York last Tuesday to present an award at the "GQ Man of the Year" ceremonies. There is some speculation that Sosa, who has a two-week window to decide if he wants to explore free agency and void the final two years of his contract with the Cubs, will stay with the Cubs.

Sosa wanted a couple of years tacked onto his current contract, but the Cubs refused to budge.

There is a school of thought that the New York Yankees could be interested in upgrading in right field. While New York has been a town that treats Sosa like royalty, it's hard to believe the Yankees would pony up more than the $17 million Sosa will receive from the Cubs in 2004.

--Cubs fan Steve Bartman, who prevented LF Moises Alou from making a potential catch at the wall in the eighth inning of Game 6 of the NLCS, had reportedly received death threats days after the incident. After that play, Florida scored eight runs and won 8-3, forcing a Game 7. The Cubs lost that game and were denied their first World Series bid since 1945.

Some blame Bartman for the Cubs' collapse. Former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe was so appalled at some of the fans' reaction to Bartman that he said when he was asked to throw out a first pitch at Wrigley Field during the World Series, he wanted to take Bartman to the mound with him.

Also, baseball commissioner Bud Selig reportedly called Bartman to give his support as well.

--The Cubs continued to work with neighborhood groups and the city of Chicago to try to get more than 18 night games per regular season.

The team is willing to eliminate some of their 2:20 p.m. Friday games as the number of night games increases, as well as to offer parking and shuttle services, and be willing to work with traffic engineers if 12 more games per season can eventually be phased in.

--LF Moises Alou, who hit .388 in the postseason, officially exercised his 2004 option.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,158 -- Strikeouts by Cubs hitters in 2003, which was more than a 100-strikeout improvement over their team-record 1,269 whiffs from 2002.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm thinking, 'Man, don't do that.' As far as I'm concerned, this is only the beginning of something for the Cubs, not the end." -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker talking about a fed-up fan who sent Baker his Cubs hat and jacket and wrote to the manager that he "just couldn't take it anymore."

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