From the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal :

Jay Mariotti (above), who pops up in the paper almost as often as those naked kids in the “Love Is …” comics, counted up his columns the other day and realized he’s already written more pieces than his contract requires him to deliver for the 12-month period ending April 30.

So rather than pound out another explanation for why things aren’t the way they ought to be, he intends to take a vacation–until May. So much for the Masters, the NCAA Final Four, baseball’s opening day and the first blown save of the season.

“Certainly the paper misses him,” Editor Michael Cooke said, “but we have a lot of bench strength.”

Mariotti will continue to appear at the paper even if he’s not in it, coming into the newsroom to tape his regular “Around the Horn” appearances for ESPN. But his regular targets can rest easy knowing hunting season doesn’t resume for a couple months.