It took Paul Sullivan a few days to figure out the registration form on Chicagosports.com. Now that he's finally registered, he's crankier than ever and back to answering your questions.
Has anyone ever told Frank Thomas that it is not a crime to swing at the first pitch? Pitchers constantly groove him fastballs on the first pitch knowing that he will not swing at it. More often than not he then takes a second strike also. Please help him!! --Tim Sweeney, Villa Park, Ill.
A few weeks ago, some e-mailer here asked me to tell Frank to change his swing, which I did. Now you're asking me to tell Frank to swing at first pitches? Please, people, send your batting tips directly to Frank in care of the White Sox. Frankly, I'm tired of being the go-between.
I know you've got to stay fresh with pop culture, and that's a good thing, but with the upcoming Spider-Mania and regarding the April 21 game story, you spelled Spider-Man wrong. Caps and hyphen needed. (Shame on the copy editors). Never mention "clone" and "Spider-Man" together in the same phrase. It's a reference to a terribly confusing story line that cost Marvel Comics several thousands of dollars and readers in the mid '90s. Bad. Really bad. Not a positive reference. Marvel actually filed for bankruptcy during this time. FYI, for you are a humble baseball writer. Bad editor with limited knowledge and scope. And here I was going to ask a Parque/Comiskey attendance/Contreras/fantasy baseball/be nice to the readers question. Shame on me. Can you be sarcastic about the response, something about making fun of comic readers? Thank you. --Ashok Selvam, Chicago
Ashok, I'm picturing you as that comic book store owner on The Simpsons, the guy with the ponytail and Star Wars bed sheets. All apologies to you and all the other Spider-Man fans who were extremely upset about my mention of clones and Spider-Man. I've since turned my focus to Foghorn Leghorn, a cartoon character with which I am more familiar. I say, I say, I say...
FYI, the famous Al Smith photo can be purchased right from the Chicago Tribune gift store at Tribune Tower. I guess you don't spend much time at the office! About $150 if you're a subscriber. Just saw it there last week along with a few other Chicago sports photos. It's a Tribune photo. --Bob Szafranksi, Chicago
No, Bob, I don't spend much time in the Tribune Tower, but thanks for pointing that out to my bosses. Anyone looking for the Al Smith photo, stop on by the Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.
Hi, Paul, my question is about the fine left-hand pitching in the bullpen. Mike Porzio looks like he needs a one-way trip to A ball. He can't throw strikes and locates the ball into bats when he does occasionally throw a strike. Jim Parque is also a bit of a problem. Little stuff needs to shut his mouth and go to the independent league to work on his stuff against fellow washed up ballplayers. If Kenny Williams and the Sox are so cheap, can't they at least sign some schlep from the speed pitch booth at Comiskey Park? The results would be much better. --Steve Hecker, Bartlett, Ill.
Please try and be a little more polite. That kind of rudeness will not be tolerated here.
With Jose Valentin not hitting well and playing terrible defense, why not put Joe Crede at third? He's always been considered an excellent defender in the minors. Also, he's hitting over .300 in Triple-A and doesn't he merit an opportunity yet? --Douglas Battaglia, Chicago
Valentin is signed through 2003, and he was actually playing good defense until last weekend in Oakland. Valentin is the heart of the team, so it's way too early to give up on him. Crede does deserve a shot sooner or later, but Valentin is a big part to this team and they need his presence in the clubhouse to win it all. A few more hits would help, too.
You mentioned in your last column that you're well-versed in Shakespeare. That thought in mind, are there any Sox players that stand out as modern day Shakespearean characters? I'll start with the easy one - Frank Thomas is clearly the Hamlet of the lot, what with his tortured prince attitude. You can take it from here... --Jon Casadont, Chicago
Kenny Williams as Richard II? Jerry Manuel as Othello? Paul Konerko as Romeo? Jerry Reinsdorf as Julius Caesar? Wallace Johnson as Puck? I could go on and on, but for the sake of the readers, I wont.
Hey, Paul, when Shakespeare wrote, "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions" (Hamlet, IV:5), was he talking about Ophelia's troubles or just the cadre of ineffective lefties in the Sox's bullpen? And don't worry, journalism school is for untalented writers who can't pen anything worthwhile on their own. I mean, Shakespeare never got into the University of Missouri's journalism school either. --Paul Gulezian, Oak Park, Ill.
I'm not sure if Shakespeare was talking about the Sox lefties there, but I do know that Richard II was talking about those outside forces from the negative media when he said: "Rage must be withstood: Give me his gage: lions make leopards tame."
Even though Frank Thomas is one of my favorite players, I think it's time to trade him. Do you agree? If so, whom do you think we could get for him? --Allen Darnall, New Lenox, Ill.
As 10-and-5 guy, meaning a player with 10 years in the majors and five on the same team, Thomas can veto any trade, as he no doubt would do. Since his contract is guaranteed and runs through 2006, I doubt his trade value would be very high in the current economic climate, with 19 teams suffering attendance drops so far this year. Better to keep Frank and hope his mediocre April numbers are an anomaly.
Why are lefties called Southpaws? --Mike Calles, Darien, Ill.
Actually, it stems from the Latin word, "Southpawius," which roughly translates to "left-handed pitcher."
How do you think Jim Parque will fare this year? I know he has been talking a lot and certainly not backing up his flapping gums, but I still remain hopeful that he will return to his 2000 status. --David Hains, Indianapolis
Now that Jim Parque is back with the Sox, I am lifting the Parque moratorium. It's too early to tell whether he can get back to 2000 status, but he has definitely stopped flapping his gums since returning.
I know you called a moratorium on Jim Parque questions, but Kenny Williams' stinging public criticism of Parque has me wondering. Is Williams mad at Parque for taking off-the-record shots at his teammates in the press? I'm thinking of a spring training story in which an unnamed player criticized Royce Clayton. Parque has been awful and doesn't deserve a call-up, but it seems Kenny Williams' sensitivity to media criticism may be at play here. --Bill Cunningham, Chicago
Who knows? In the last month, Kenny Williams has been Nurse Ratched to Parque's Randall P. McMurphy. But now that Parque has received his official Sox lobotomy and "just wants to help the team win," everything is hunky-dory. Williams is probably still upset with Parque for his ill-advised comments from Charlotte about miscommunication, but if Parque pitches well with the Sox, all will be forgiven.
Sorry this doesn't entirely pertain to the Sox, but I'm hoping your staff can help me with one question: When was the last time a professional sports team in Chicago won a playoff game at home? I grew up in Indiana and I've still followed Chicago sports teams closely. But this question haunts me as I remember this Hawks-Blues series, the Bears getting thumped by the Eagles, and the Sox being swept by Seattle. Hopefully the Sox will change things this year. --Keith Geswein, Arlington, Texas
Answer: The Chicago Wolves.
I know you have a Nardi question boycott going, but isn't it evident, especially in light of the many injury recoveries he has managed, plus the loss of Lowe, Fogg, and several other fine pitchers, that Contreras really has done and is doing a great job, and is a big asset to the team? Am I the only Sox fan who's noticed? P.S. I agree about fantasy baseball--what's wrong with loving the real thing? --Dave Lynam, Chicago
Sorry, the Parque moratorium may be off, but the Nardi moratorium is still on, as is the moratorium on the Josh Fogg trade, formerly known as the Kip Wells trade. Nice try though.
Have you considered writing a column for the Tribune devoted solely to the analysis of attendance figures at Major League baseball games? It seems one is necessary in order to begin to address this most important subject. --Dennis Swinford, Chicago
When Sox management stops equating attendance problems with its decision to slice payroll, now and in the future, I'll stop mentioning it. Have you considered getting a new hobby, I mean aside from sending me e-mails every week regarding attendance?
Looking for a two-for-one deal, Paul. 1.) When will the Chicago media turn its attention from Sammy's inconsequential homers to something more exciting -- a first place baseball team?! 2.) Through the history of Chicago baseball, who has the collective all-time attendance record? Thanks! --Brent Seberhagen, Park Ridge, Ill.
Here's an 0-for-2 response, Brent: 1. Soon, very soon. 2. Sorry, I don't have the time or the interest to look this up. Maybe the previous e-mailer has some figures he can share with you.
If Ray keeps playing this way all year do you think the Sox will lock him up? I think Lofton has been the best influence Ray has ever had on this team and I hope the Sox give Lofton a two-year deal as well. I'm not holding my breath though as we all know the current management's prior track record in this department. --Erik Turner, Columbus, Ohio
If the Sox were going to lock Durham up, they should've done it in spring training. I think they like the idea of Ray in a free-agent situation, because he has to produce to get a long-term deal. Durham wants to stay here badly, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a bigger offer elsewhere and decides to take it.
This is more of a general question regarding the major-league schedule. What was Selig's rationale for why both the Cubs and Sox are scheduled to be at home on an April weekend? I've lived here my whole life and really believe that these teams shouldn't be playing their home openers until the last week of April. It's mind boggling to watch these games this weekend that would have been tough conditions for viewing football. It's amazing that teams like Oakland and Anaheim were facing one another. It would be nice to see the schedule makers make weather conditions the main priority in planning out the first month of the season. Least of all is the concern that risk of injury under these conditions becomes more likely. --Rick Smoler, Evanston, Ill.
The Sox make three West Coast trips in the first six weeks--to Seattle on one, to Oakland on the next and to Anaheim on the third. Of course this is ridiculous beyond belief, especially considering the expenses involved. Yes, the schedule makers are putting it to the Sox, for whatever reason. Ideally, the Sox should go on one long Anaheim-Oakland-Seattle road trip. No one said life was fair.
Paul, please tell Jerry Reinsdorf to tell Ken Williams that Whitesnake was a pathetic '80s era rock n' roll hair band whose videos frequently starred actress Tawny Kitaen, who's claim to Hollywood fame was co-starring with Tom Hanks in the one-star comedic flop, "Bachelor Party." On amore serious note, do you think Jose Canseco will get a chance to play again at Comiskey Park? --Nick Tsacudakis, Azores, Portugal
Thanks for the info on Whitesnake. I'll pass it on to Reinsdorf next time I ask him to turn the damn music down at Comiskey Park. Canseco will get a chance to play at Comiskey if some American League team trades for him.
Paul, why does Jerry Manuel seem so set on not giving Gary Glover another shot in the starting rotation? He did a good job last season and is sporting the lowest ERA on the staff this year. Is this just a case of Manuel sticking with his high-priced talent whether it is the best move for the team or not? --Matt Wittorf, Petersburg, Fla.
Quite the opposite. Manuel is sticking with low-priced talent. Garland, Wright, Rauch are all under $300,000. Glover probably will get a shot down the line, and he's generally pitched well out of the pen. Since Manuel pulls his starters so early, the value of his middle relievers may be just as high as the value of his No. 3, 4 and 5 starters.
True, true. Here I am in Florence fretting over the Sox. But no ocean or obscene amount of vino can keep me from my Sox. Ciao. --Ben Myers, Florence, Italy
I am very, very worried about you, Ben. Ciao.