Football and basketball rule the world of athlete endorsements.

Baseball seems a distant third.

Ryan Howard is trying to change that. He already has been seen in his share of national TV commercials, and he said recently that fans can expect to see more spots in the near future (Subway, anybody?).

He is on the cover of magazines and video games.

He is a perennial National League MVP candidate.

We asked readers of The Inquirer's Phillies blog -

The Phillies Zone (http://go.philly.com/phillieszone)

- for their questions for Howard. Because he gets "serious" baseball questions every day, we asked him a few off-the-wall ones, too.

Howard played along, even though he had lost his voice and could barely speak.

Check The Phillies Zone every week, where we hope to have a different participant for the Q&A.

Question:

Given the choice, would you prefer to remain a Phillie for your entire career?

- Mike C., Gary, Ind.

Answer: That's not up to me.

Q:

What was it like when it looked like Jim Thome was going to be a permanent fixture here? What were your concerns about the future?

- Bill S., Philadelphia

A:

Obviously, I knew that I wasn't going to get rushed. But my thought was to get to the big leagues, regardless of where it was. Whether it was here or somewhere else. Not to dwell on the fact that he was there and kind of blocking my way, but try to pave my own way in a sense.

Q:

Have you considered hitting a few ground balls down the third-base line to foil the defensive shift used against you?

- Steve L.,
Maplewood, N.J.

A:

I like to go to the opposite field, but at the same time you're trying to hit how they pitch you. So it all depends on what the pitch is, I guess.

Q: What do you feel are the characteristics of a clubhouse leader?

- Philip W.,
Clifton Park, N.Y.

A:

Somebody who is vocal. Somebody who is willing to listen. Somebody you look up to on and off the field.

Q:

In your commercial for Dick's Sporting Goods, where was the team located and were they really surprised that you showed up?

- Brian H.,
Wynnewood, Pa.

A:

The commercial was shot out in L.A. The team was some high school kids from the area. And, yeah, they were surprised. They didn't know I was coming.

Q:

So we heard you were eyeing an Aston Martin after your big payday. Did you get it, and what type did you get?

- Chris J.,
Toms River, N.J.

A:

That's hearsay. That's all hearsay.

Q:

What do you think was your most memorable moment as a Phillie?

- Scott Z., Raleigh, N.C.

A:

I'm sure there's a couple. Making the playoffs. My first call-up. My first home run. What else? My first stolen base. What else? I mean, there's a lot of things I remember.

Q:

Bowling 300 or hitting .300, which is harder?

- Stu C., Newport, Pa.

A:

I would probably have to say bowling 300, because you have to be perfect on every ball. I don't know. They're both tough. Yeah, they're both tough.

Q: Since making the big leagues, you've had a lot of memorable moments on the field. What is your most memorable moment off the field?

- Nikki D., Lancaster

A:

I'm not sure. I'd really have to think about that one.

Q:

What's the best and worst part going from a relative unknown in the minor leagues to being an all-star on the cover of video games and in commercials?

A:

The worst is probably that there are demands on your time. The best is just seeing that you've made it and that you've worked hard to get where you are. And I guess that people kind of recognize that. And you're on a video game.

Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/phillieszone.