The Mailbag: Let’s Talk Pizza


Welcome to The Chicago Homer’s Mailbag. It runs once a week unless it doesn’t, and in it I answer questions from readers via Twitter or email. The questions can be about any damn thing you please, and there likely isn’t a question I won’t answer. There may be questions I can’t answer, but I’ll try.

If you’d like to submit a question for the next edition of the mailbag it’s pretty simple. Either ask the question on Twitter using the #AskTCH hashtag — as long as you use the hashtag I will see it — or send an email to

It’s been a busy week in Chicago sports, with the MLB trade deadline, the Bears opening training camp and Derrick Rose returning to a basketball court, so obviously the first question of this week’s mailbag will be food related.

You know, I’ve been asked this question so many times by people I work with who are visiting town and want to know where to eat. Most of the time they want deep-dish pizza, and after I shake my head in disgust, I’ll generally give them some of the standard answers while trying to encourage them to stick to real pizza, or maybe just to go to a real restaurant. There are a lot of them in this city.

Pizza is awesome. I love pizza, you love pizza, everybody that doesn’t hate life loves pizza. But pizza is everywhere, and when you’re visiting a city, why would you want to get pizza when there are so many other options out there to try?

Because as others have said throughout history, there really is no bad pizza. Yes, some are better than others, and while chains like Papa Johns and Dominos are a scourge upon society, it’s not like you’ll die if you eat them. I hate Papa Johns, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t eat plenty of it while I was in college.

But since just about any pizza is good pizza — and to be clear, if you’re putting pineapple on it it’s no longer pizza, when I say pizza, I mean pizza, not that hippie bullshit — I have a hard time figuring out what the best pizza is. I’ve had a lot of different pizzas in my lifetime, both within the city of Chicago, and in the suburbs. But I don’t really have a favorite pizza place.

Q’s in Hillside holds a special place in my heart because it’s the place we ordered pizza from while I was growing up, but I don’t consider it the “best” pizza I’ve ever had.

Right now my go to place is JB Alberto’s on Morse Ave. It’s reasonably priced, it’s good, and it’s usually pretty damn good about delivering in a reasonable amount of time. So while it’s my “favorite” pizza right now, I still don’t know if it’s the best.

I’ve been told by many people that Pequod’s Pizza, on the corner of Webster and Clybourn is the best pizza in the city, but I’ve yet to eat there. I probably will one day, and when I do it’ll probably taste pretty damn good, but I’ll still be convinced that the only reason so many people say it’s the best pizza in the city is because somebody else told them it was. Then, when they ate there, it tasted good so they were like “oh my god this really is the best pizza in the city.”

But there is no bad pizza. And there’s no best pizza either. Pizza is pizza. It is awesome, and it will always be awesome, no matter where you order it from.

My only rules about it are this:

  • Deep-dish pizza is not pizza, it’s an actual pie filled with the same kind of shit you’d find on a pizza.
  • Don’t order from a chain if you have any other choice, and if you do have to order from a chain, try to order from Pizza Hut. Of all the chains it’s been the one that I find consistently good.
  • These are the only acceptable toppings on a pizza: sausage, pepperoni, bacon, garlic, olives, giardiniera, mushrooms, beef, meatball, tomato, peppers, spinach, beef, chicken, Canadian bacon. You can go cheese-only if you want to, even if I’ll never understand what the fucking point of that is. I know I missed some toppings, but generally if it’s meat, it’s okay. If it’s a vegetable, it’s probably okay. If it’s a fruit kindly kick yourself in the fucking face.

And that’s all I have to say about pizza right now.

This is an old question that got lost in the shuffle because you didn’t use the hashtag. I found it, though, so I’ll answer it.

This wasn’t the case when you asked it, but as terrible as the injury itself was, I certainly think the Bulls chances improved on Friday night when Paul George’s leg snapped in half during the USA scrimmage. Without George and Lance Stephenson the Pacers quickly become a non-factor in the East, leaving the Bulls with just the Cleveland Cavaliers to contend with.

The question now is whether or not Cleveland gets Kevin Love, but at this point I’d have to say yes, it is a realistic expectation. I don’t know if it’s likely, but considering how wide open the East is, it’s not insane to think that this Bulls roster could win the conference. Especially if Derrick Rose stays healthy and looks as good as he did Friday night.

You are very welcome.

As for this week’s question, my heart says FUCK YEAH THEY ARE BEAR DOWN CHICAGO BEARS. My head says probably not, though. While the Bears definitely improved the roster over the offseason, I think every team in the NFC North improved along with them.

At this point I’d still consider Green Bay the favorite because Green Bay still has Aaron Rodgers, and quarterbacks are just so damn important in the NFL. So as long as he’s healthy, I lean Green Bay, but I think that’s the key.

Injuries are going to decide the NFC North this season. While I’d still say the Vikings finish last no matter what — but they won’t be a pushover — I think that between the Bears, Packers and Lions, whichever team avoids the major injuries will wind up winning the division.

I hope it’s the Bears.

I have to lean Jared Allen here. While Julius Peppers picked up his game a bit toward the end of the season last year, he just spent most of the season looking old. Maybe the move to Green Bay will rejuvenate him, but I’m not sure how big of an impact he’s going to be there. The Packers don’t really need him to be the guy.

Then there’s Jared Allen, whose presence alone completely shifts the dynamic of the Bears defensive line. Allen, like Peppers, is getting up there in the age department (though Peppers is two years older at 34) but he’s just been so consistent throughout his career. He gets to the quarterback, and he does it with regularity.

He’s going to have an impact on the Bears defensive line, but like I said in last week’s Mailbag, I still think Lamarr Houston will be the biggest game-changer for the Bears defense this year. Partially because of Allen.

Houston is just more versatile. He’s a great run stopper, and he’s going to become a better pass-rusher, especially with Jared Allen lining up on the other end of the line commanding so much damn attention.

Is Jake Arrieta for real, is he more like Steve Trachsel or Kerry Wood? – Sai Reddy

Sai! You’re alive!

I kind of think he’s for real. Now, I don’t know if he’s the kind of real that’s going to have a perfect game going for five innings in every start like he has been lately, but I think he’s going to be pretty good. Not staff ace good, but a solid second or third guy to have on a division winning rotation.

I saw Arrieta often enough when he was with Baltimore, and he always struck me as a kid with good stuff, but no real idea how to use it. Now when I see him I see a guy that knows how to pitch.

Now, I don’t know if he’s going to continue striking out nearly 10 guys per nine innings, or if he’ll keep striking out nearly four batters for every one he walks, but I don’t think he’s going to have the kind of regression the Cubs have seen from Travis Wood this season, either.

I just don’t know. Based on reports from Saturday, it doesn’t sound like it’ll be Jermaine Jones, though I don’t know that I’d consider Jermaine Jones to be the kind of “big-name signing” you’re asking about.

I think we’ll be waiting a while, to be honest. Yes, Chicago is a huge market, and it would make sense for the MLS to steer some stars this way, but the Fire just strike me as a ship without a captain. I’m never quite sure anybody is really in charge over there.

Plus I think it hurts that the team doesn’t actually play in the city of Chicago. If you’re a star from Europe coming to the United States and you’re used to playing in giant stadiums packed with thousands of fans, do you really want to finish your career playing in Bridgeview? The stadium itself is nice enough, but it’s not exactly a selling point.

The rule is that a player needs an average of 3.1 plate appearances for every game his team has played during the season to qualify for the rate stats. So since Gillaspie gets days off against most lefties, and he missed a few weeks of action in late April and early May, he’s been playing catch up all season long.

And he’s done just that.

Following Friday night’s game against the Twins Gillaspie had made 341 plate appearances this season. It was the 110th game of the season for the White Sox. So let’s see, 3.1 multiplied by 110 is…341. So the White Sox currently have a player in the top ten of the American League in hitting.

I actually have a theory about this that, while I can’t prove, I’m pretty damn sure is correct.

A lot of voting for the All Star Game is done at the ballpark when you attend the game. Well, we all know that the White Sox aren’t leading the league in attendance, and that they never are. So there just aren’t as many fans showing up to the park to do the voting. But when it comes to the final vote, that’s all done online. And while there aren’t a ton of White Sox fans at games, there are plenty at home on their computers, and with the way the White Sox market it constantly, they’re getting on and voting.

Of course, that’s just part of it. The other part is that the White Sox really haven’t had a whole lot of position players worthy of being All Star Game starters recently. I think Jose Abreu will change that in coming years, and I do think that Alexei Ramirez would have been voted in as a starter this season if it weren’t Derek Jeter’s final season.

I’m going to say three, possibly two, though probably all four. I think Dunn is the most likely to be moved via a waiver claim/trade. What I’m curious about is what the Sox do with Dayan Viciedo when Avisail Garcia returns later this month.

My bet is that Moises Sierra gets sent down to Charlotte for a week or so until rosters expand and they bring him back up. My hope is that Dayan Viciedo goes through waivers unclaimed, and if the Sox can’t work out a deal, they just designate him for assignment.

He’ll be around as long as he wants to be around, or until he dies. And I’m fine with it. I get why so many people don’t like him. I disagree with roughly 80% of the things he says, and it does get tiresome to hear him keep stressing the same things over and over again throughout the course of a 162-game season.

It’s refreshing when we get a booth without him like we did last week when it was Steve Stone and Tom Paciorek. Stone certainly seemed to enjoy the freedom to talk about current events rather than pounding the same old points over and over again.

But I love Hawk. I’ve grown up with Hawk, and I accept him as the crazy old uncle of being a White Sox fan.

He’ll be gone one day, and trust me, you’ll miss him when he is.


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