The #AskTCR Mailbag is back and it's on Sunday instead of Saturday this week because yesterday I was out for my mom's birthday party. She turned old. Fortunately there are no questions this week from people asking me how to replace the fingers they lost setting off fireworks on Thursday, and that's a relief. You people need your fingers or else you won't be able to type questions to send me for the mailbag.
Not a ton of questions this week, which is fine, we'll make do with what we have. But before we get to the questions let's go over what you need to do to get your questions featured in the mailbag.
There are two ways to ask The Champaign Room your questions. You can tweet them at us on Twitter using the hashtag #AskTCR -- it just makes it easier to keep track -- or you can email them to us at TheChampaignRoom@gmail.com. And if you've got a personal question and you're worried about your privacy, just tell us. Well change your name to Tom Crean when we publish it on the site. And remember, you can ask us ANYTHING. It doesn't have to be about Illinois or even sports.
So let's get to the first questions, which is actually a baseball question.
@Champaign_Room #AskTCR as a Pirates fan, when should I get excited? Also, should I get a home or road John Ericks jersey for my son?— Jason Smith (@FrostTyrant) July 6, 2013
Listen, being that you're a Pirates fan, I completely understand why you're so apprehensive. I know a lot of Cubs fans between the age of 22-35 who complain about how the Cubs haven't won a World Series in over a century. Which is a bullshit complaint because had they won one in 1969 it wouldn't have meant shit to any of them because they weren't alive anyway.
And I often wonder who has it worse. The Cubs fans I know or the Pirates fans I know.
I mean, the Cubs haven't won a World Series, but at least they've had some good seasons in my friend's lifetimes. At least they've won some division titles and gone to the playoffs.
The Pirates have not only missed the playoffs in every season since 1992, they haven't finished with a winning record in any of the last 20 seasons. If you're between the ages of 25-30 the best Pirates season that happened that you actually have a true recollection of -- sorry, but you don't remember about sports teams between the ages of 0-10 because you didn't give a shit -- was the 2012 season in which the Pirates finished 79-83.
But right now the Pirates are 53-33 and in first place in the NL Central, so should you be excited? Well, I understand why you're not sure. Last year, on July 18, the Pirates were 51-40 and in first place. In 2011 they were 53-47 and in first place on July 25. Obviously, the Pirates did not finish in first or even with a winning record in either of those seasons. So you're a bit apprehensive, and I get it.
However, I do think you can start getting excited because I do believe it's going to be different this year. The fact is that while the Pirates have had some July success in recent years, it's never been of the level it is now. The Pirates are 20 games over .500, which means that even if the Pirates play .500 baseball from here on out they're still going to finish 91-71. That record might not be good enough to win the division, but it'll be good enough to grab a wild card spot.
Now, if there are any concerns it'd be the Pirates offense. They're currently in first place, but they've scored the least amount of runs in their division. However, thanks to a great pitching staff, they've also given up the least amount of runs.
Still, I think the Pirates should seriously consider adding a bat or two before the trade deadline -- AS A WHITE SOX FAN CAN I INTEREST YOU IN ADAM DUNN OR ALEX RIOS? -- because I don't know if you can count on their starters to be this good over the second half. Jeff Locke is young and has no real track record, and as a Sox fan who has seen Francisco Liriano pitch for years, I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop there.
So, again, there are concerns. However, there aren't enough concerns to cause me to think you need to continue holding yourself back from being excited. I truly do think this is not just the year the Pirates finish over .500, but get back to the playoffs. And once you're there, anything goes.
As for the Ericks jersey, I'd go home because I just think it's a better-looking jersey.
@Champaign_Room what's the difference between the Directors’ Cup and the Capital One Cup? And is Illinois set up to compete for one? #AskTCR— Alex Ford (@alexlford) July 5, 2013
One is sponsored by Capital One.
No, honestly, while I'm not sure about how either scores them, it seems to me the only real difference is that the Capital One Cup separates the men's and women's sports. I also know that the Illinois men's sports finished 42nd and the women's finished tied for 76th this season. The other major difference is that somebody besides Stanford wins the Capital One Cup.
For those uninitiated, both of these are awards given out based on athletic achievements at a school. Points are given based on the accomplishments of your athletic teams, and I'm pretty sure they're all equal. Like, you'd get the same amount of points for your football team winning a national title as you would your gymnastics team.
As for whether or not Illinois could ever compete for one, I'd say they have a chance, but we need to improve. I don't know that Illinois will ever be on the level that Stanford is, but I'd say it's possible they can sneak up every once in a while.
@Champaign_Room Avid TV junkie caught up on most shows on Netflix. What next: X-Files or 24? (Haven't seen any episodes of either). #AskTCR— Ian Evans (@IanKEvans2) July 5, 2013
You know, I've never watched the X-Files. Haven't seen a single episode, which is strange because I have so many friends who loved the show. I have seen 24, though, and I can tell you that you should watch the X-Files. It's not that I thought 24 sucked, as I thought the first season was great, it's just after that it's basically the same thing over and over and over again.
So I'll say the X-Files, and maybe I'll join you in watching it on Netflix after I finish re-watching every episode of Breaking Bad before the final season starts.
@Champaign_Room #AskTCR could you let me go? It's dark down here. I'm thirsty and I want to go home.— Brandon Birkhead (@brandonbirkhead) July 5, 2013
It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.
With so many classic rock tribute bands will there eventually be tribute bands of tribute bands #askTCR— BigToe (@BigToe66) July 5, 2013
Thanks for the questions! If you submitted a question that didn't get answered, don't worry, it's possible that I'm just saving it for the next mailbag. It's also possible the question sucked and you need to ask better questions next time. I guess you'll just have to wait to find out.
Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.