CHICAGO -- The Cubs might be well out of the playoff picture, but that doesn't mean manager Dale Sveum isn't scoreboard watching.
Sveum was asked before Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals if he keeps tabs on the crosstown White Sox and fellow first-year manager Robin Ventura. Sveum said in the regular season's final weeks, he's a fan like everyone else.
"You're watching the scoreboard all the time to see what somebody's doing -- or not doing," Sveum said. "If we play a day game, you're like, 'Oh, I'm going to get home and watch that.' It's just part of the game now."
Of course, that intrigue is even more heightened this season with the additional Wild Card. The Cubs are playing a hand in the outcome with their three-game weekend series against the Cardinals, who entered Sunday with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Brewers and three-game cushion against the Dodgers.
Sveum said he's a fan of the new format.
"I think it's good for everybody to think, 'If we can just roll off 12 in a row, we're capable of doing it,' and keep fighting the last few weeks for that extra spot," Sveum said. "Fans, TV, I think it benefits everybody when you have that one last breath to make it. It's good for the game."
Some players have voiced displeasure over the one-game playoff for the two Wild Card teams. And while Sveum said a series would be more fair, he said the excitement surrounding the do-or-die Wild Card games will be undeniable.
"We'll all watch that one game, I know that," Sveum said. "In a five-game series you'll watch Game 3 or whatever, but you'll watch one game."
Honored by Cubs, Wood wants to work for club
CHICAGO -- Kerry Wood knows he wants to continue to be part of the Cubs family. How and in what capacity, however, has yet to be determined.
"We've kind of kicked some ideas around," Wood said. "We're all kind of on the same page and I'm sure we'll get something going here real soon and work out all the details."
On Sunday at Wrigley Field, the Cubs held Kerry Wood Appreciation Day, which began with a pregame ceremony. Wood caught the ceremonial first pitch from his son, Justin, while Wood and his family -- wife Sarah and children Justin, Katie and Charlie -- were to sing the seventh-inning stretch. The Wood Family Foundation also was the beneficiary of the Chicago Cubs Charities 50/50 raffle.
"The Cubs have been home and family to me for a long time, so we're ecstatic and thrilled they took the time to have a day for me," Wood said of his day. "It says volumes about the family and the Cubs organization."
It's a family and organization with which Wood still wants to stay active. Aside from 1 1/2 seasons in Cleveland and another in New York, he spent the majority of his career in Chicago after being selected fourth overall in the 1995 First-Year Player Draft and continues to be active in the city.
Wood said he wants to be available for younger players as they make their way through the system and to Chicago during the organization's rebuilding process. He also said he'd like to see other former teammates join him, mentioning Mark Grace and Sammy Sosa.
"These guys have a lot more to offer than just baseball. They have knowledge of the city, how to handle the media and I have the experience of having to come up and do it as a 20-year-old," Wood said. "We're going to have some young players coming up here in the next couple years and it's all good advice to have around and good people to have around."
As for getting Sosa back to Chicago after how he left in 2004 and his link to performance-enhancing drugs, Wood said: "Sammy and [Mark] McGuire almost single-handedly brought the fans back to baseball and Sammy did tremendous things for this city. We all know how he left and how it ended with him, but ultimately that one mistake that he made at the end shouldn't determine his future in Chicago."
Whether other former Cubs come around the organization, Wood said he'll be here. And despite seeing former teammates and front-office people he was close with go this year -- the first under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein -- Wood said he likes the direction the Cubs are headed.
"I see the long term of what we're trying to do here and I know how hard Theo and his team are working and what they're doing," Wood said. "It's not going to be easy, but they're doing what they need to turn this organization around.
"Ultimately if we end up putting ourselves in a position to be in the postseason every year in a few years, no one's going to remember the first two years of struggles."
Five of the Cubs' eight home games against the Cardinals were decided in the team's final at-bat, including the first two game of this series. The others included Anthony Rizzo's 10th-inning walk-off homer July 29 and consecutive walk-off wins April 23-24.
Chicago's bullpen entered Sunday with a 2.85 ERA in its last 15 games. Cubs relievers have struck out 62 in 50 innings in that span.