(sappy, yes, but when he flips it over, the sign reads “Burnitz Is A Sissy”)

Neither Chip Carey nor Steve Stone were on WGN today to critique LaTroy Hawkins’ latest collapse, but the former had a bit of old business on his mind during an interview with WSCR’s Mike North yesterday, as recounted by the Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein.

“Ultimately, I think the players embarrassed themselves and embarrassed the team and, fortunately for both Steve and me, we were able to land on our feet at other places where people appreciate our honesty.”

On Kent Mercker, who called the press box last year to complain about the broadcasters’ praise for Houston pitcher Roy Oswalt: “I invited [him] to settle this face to face wherever he wanted, and he declined.”

On Todd Walker, who complained about having Stone and Caray on the team charter: “I’ve had flu that lasted longer than this guy was with the Cubs, but he was opining in the media. I called his cell phone and said: ‘Let’s talk about this. I think we can work this out.’ And I never got a return call.

“And Todd is really one of the good guys. Most of the guys I thought we got along with, but there were a few that we didn’t. One (Moises Alou) left the ballgame (Wednesday) with a calf injury. But when you’re 70, that stuff happens.”

Caray appeared to put an end to the session by saying, “I think last year was last year, and we’ve all beaten this thing to death.”

But then he offered one more blow: “I think last year the Cubs were distracted by too many things other than winning on that day. The guys can say it wasn’t the case, but it was. ¦ When you have bullpen guys (LaTroy Hawkins) complaining about umpires and vendettas, when you have players moaning about the number of cameras in the locker room before the game, what the guys were writing and what the broadcasters were saying, it was absurd. It really was a three-ring circus.”