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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

'04 Sox at the Quarter-mark!
by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends before we take a week off for final exams and the holiday weekend…. 

As this is being written the Sox seem to have come out of their annual May slump and are hitting the ball again.  One thing was obvious during the Sox recent downturn:  these guys don’t learn from the past.  Whenever the big guns go silent, it is because they are trying to hit every ball out of the park rather than going with the pitch and maybe hitting to the opposite field.  Such thoughts seem to be foreign to them. 

One of the keys to the Sox breaking out of their collective hitting funk came in the May 15 loss to the Twins when Carlos Lee, who seemed to be 0 for May, laid down a bunt that rolled into third base for a single.  It was after that the Sox bats finally came to life.  Somebody tried something different than swinging for the fences and popping up, and the rest of the lineup followed. 

Perhaps an even bigger key than Lee’s bunt single was the return to the lineup of Juan Uribe on May 16 after two inexplicable days off.  In a move worthy of Gen. Disarray or Dusty Baker, Guillen sat Uribe for no apparent reason.  Why any manager would bench his hottest bat is a mystery.  Why any manager would do it for two days against his main division rival is shocking.  Let’s hope Ozzie is as quick a study as he seems to be and learns a valuable lesson:  if a player is hot, play him. 

Lest anyone think the media bias has decreased in the past week, rest assured that it is alive and well.  While the Sox were in Minnesota beating up on the Twins this past Thursday, reporters were flocking to Lansing, Michigan to witness Mark Prior walk on water.  You had to search the sports sections Friday to find a story about the Sox game while Prior, who was able to shut down the low-level Class A batters facing him, was front page news.   

You can also rest assured that since the shooting outside of Wrigley Field became a societal issue rather than a baseball issue (more on that in a moment), the local media still gave prominent mention to the White Sox when William Ligue, Jr. was arrested for felony burglary while allegedly trying to steal a car stereo in Harvey.  Perhaps the kindest representation of the Sox in all of this came in the Daily Southtown in which Ligue was referred to as “Sox park brawler.” 

Ligue is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday for a probation violation stemming from a positive test for marijuana use.  Be on the lookout for any and all references to the White Sox when his court date is reported.  Also be on the lookout for any statements that violence, crime, and alcohol and drug abuse are societal problems that are unrelated to baseball.  I’m sure you’ll be reading a lot about that. 

It is now approaching the end of May and the Sox are (as this is being written) tied for first place with the Twins, so here is a challenge to the Chicago media:  Starting next weekend, start keeping track of Sox home attendance and compare it with attendance for the first eight weeks of the season.  Then publish your findings.  We’re willing to risk our reputations by predicting that average attendance from next weekend through Labor Day will be much higher than before Memorial Day weekend, at least as long as the Sox are in contention. 

Dave Wills made a statement on his postgame show Friday night that Sox fans need to heed.  The Cell is not Wrigley Field.  He rightly pointed out that it is not a Sox tradition to throw opponents’ home run balls back, and it is not a Sox tradition to shout “Throw it back” when someone catches one of those home run balls.  He also noted that this practice has been picked up in Minnesota.  He then asked a pointed question, “Do Sox fans want to behave like Cubs fans and Twins fans?”  I sincerely hope that the answer to that question is a big “NO!” 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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