TCO: You have made some comments recently about steroids and the damage they have done to players’ careers, both personally and professionally. With the agreement in place that the 2003 tests would remain anonymous and penalties would only occur for any positive test in 2004 and beyond, how do you feel about Bud Selig’s comments (to USA TODAY) that he would have to at least consider the possibility of a suspension for A-Rod?
RK: You have someone govern the league, and rules are created and thus making it important to honor those rules regardless who you are. I think you make no exceptions; he is trying to show the public we are in control of what is going on and please follow the rules or you will receive the fines and suspensions we place on you.
TCO: Bud Selig’s reign, slowly approaching two decades, has been a mixed bag. Despite the obvious missteps (steroids, All-Star Game fiasco in Milwaukee, etc.), several good things have emerged (record attendance, truly marketable superstars, etc.). Then there are other topics that can be viewed either way, such as the Wild Card, separation of six divisions, and expansion to name a few. As a former player whose career spanned the terms of FOUR different commissioners, how do you feel about Bud Selig? What do you believe he will be best known for in the long run? Is there anyone out there that you believe would be a good fit as successor to Selig?
RK: Mr. Selig was placed in that position to take the good with the bad, and you will not ever make everyone happy. Decisions are made either at the moment or in time. I would have to say as he heads the MLB every single owner has their own input - "has he done a good job?" Just like being President of the USA, who would want the job? All in all, he has done well, and I think he might have looked back and thought they should have finished the All-Star game.
TCO: As a 9-year-old growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, the 1983 White Sox were a captivating team to watch; from the Julio Cruz jump on home plate to clinch the division, to your roof shots, to Fisk’s leadership, to Baines’ quiet demeanor, to Rudy Law’s speed, there was something for every fan. What is your greatest memory from that season?
RK: The entire team contributed in some way: a winning hit, a great play. Every night there was another hero - and mix that with a great bunch of teammates [and] it makes for a very fun year.
TCO: In that same season, just THREE of your pitchers (Hoyt, Dotson, and Bannister) accounted for almost 50% of the team’s innings pitched. Do you favor the “old-school” style of “more throwing equals stronger arms” or today’s version of slowly bringing along a young arm, watching pitch counts, extra days of rest, etc.? As a hitter, could you tell when a pitcher was being overextended?
RK: I think every pitcher who takes the mound as a starter wants to finish the game - each pitcher is in charge of his own destiny. If you throw lots of pitches, you might be getting tired, but when a good pitcher is throwing and he goes 7 innings, he wants the rest of the game. But it’s nice sometimes having a fresh arm come out and help you out.
TCO: It seems that you have been quite busy since your playing career ended, getting involved in speaking, some business ventures, minor league management, book writing, and a website. You also did some baseball-related traveling in Belgium recently. What’s on tap next for Ron Kittle?
RK: I think I am better when I keep myself busy, I like the ability to do multi-tasking - [it] keeps the mind fresh and I have always been a visionary… just wish I was a little better on the laptop and the info they can do.. besides typing like a chicken… the future holds good things for me.
TCO: With spring training in full swing, what young players should fans watch out for?
RK: I have no idea - I have spent little time researching the teams in either divisions, but will shortly...
TCO: Lastly, as the owner of seven roof shots in old Comiskey Park, how about a prediction for 2009’s home run leaders in each league?
RK: I would have to give you that in about a month or so. When the season begins, I look for the home run hitters who are healthy - that is the key. And I would like to say it will be me... in Wii baseball!!!
Imagine that: a professional athlete not willing to make bold predictions without gathering the information first! Ron Kittle is truly "old school" in the nicest sense of the phrase. His teammate Greg Luzinski was known as "The Bull." Kittle is simply "No Bull." What you see is what you get, and in today's world of professional sports, it's a refreshing change.
Look for more Q & A columns when the season starts. I am currently hunting down some current and former players, but if you have a connection with someone related to the game and is "in the news," drop me a line!