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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Fret for the Sox!
by Hal Vickery

Maybe itís has something to do with age, but itís getting to where I canít stand watching the Sox on TV anymore.

Donít get me wrong. I absolutely love the outcome of the 2005 season so far. I couldnít be happier that the Sox are the first team to reach thirty wins and that they still have the best record in baseball. Iím thrilled that they have won two of three in the first Cubs series of the season.

Still, I just canít seem to turn on the TV and watch a game all the way through. I just get too nervous. And the sad thing about all this is that my behavior is emulating a family member who is a CUBS fan!

My aunt Muriel will turn 89 this year. My grandpa was a died-in-the-wool Sox fan. It was in his living room that I became a White Sox fan. It might say something about the dysfunctional nature of his family, though, that my aunt has said that the reason she became a Cubs fan was so that she could have something to argue with him about at the dinner table.

At any rate for at least the past ten or fifteen years, she has been unable to watch a Cubs game once they get the lead. She just canít stand it, probably because in her heart of hearts after being a Cubs fan since the 1920s, she knows that they will somehow blow the game, and she just doesnít want to see it.

Thatís where my aunt and I part company. She knows that Cubs will blow it. I still have a feeling the Sox will probably win the game. On the other hand, I know from history that even in winning, something will happen to at least make the game ďinteresting.Ē

And thatís what I canít bear to watch. I just canít stand the suspense with this club. Theyíre playing the kind of baseball I remember as a kid, albeit with a little more power in the lineup. That kind of baseball just makes me too nervous at my age to stand it.

Now whatís really strange about the whole thing is that I have absolutely no problem watching the Sox when I go to a game at The Cell. Nor do I have very much trouble listening to the last part of an afternoon game as Iím driving home from work. Itís sitting on the couch trying to watch a game that gives me trouble.

I was talking with a friend about that Saturday night, and I think I came up with a possible reason for my inability to stand the suspense. When Iím at a game, even if Iím there alone, I still have the insulation of the crowd that allows me to cheer or boo, or shout out something to express my feelings.

I have that freedom to some extent when Iím alone in the car, especially out on the highway where no one can really see or hear me as I gesticulate and shout at the radio or cheer when the Sox score or make a great play.

The problem at home is that Iím not alone. Itís not that my wife thinks that Iím out of my mind, but it is kind of embarrassing when she comes into the room and asks what Iím shouting at. Then there are those funny looks that I get from Buster T. Beagle when Iím shouting or cheering. You know the look that dogs give that says, ďDid I do something that I wasnít aware of?Ē

I know itís pretty much all in my head, but itís hard to overcome that. I have no problem if Iím with a group of people and we can shout and yell and curse all we want. But put me in the house with the wife and dog, and suddenly I become reserved and a feeling of complete impotence overcomes me. I canít stand watching the games because Iím too nervous.

So I go ďplay computerĒ as my wife says, or turn the channel and watch a Law & Order rerun. Iíll keep the game on the picture-in-picture feature, but I keep the window small so I really have to strain to see it. Every once in awhile Iíll check back to see how the Sox are doing, and I may even keep the game on for a little while, at least until the commercial break is over.

Usually I manage to see enough of the game to get a feel for it, but little enough so that I donít get too nervous about it while itís in progress.

They say that the first step in overcoming a problem is to recognize that one exists. I obviously have a problem watching the Sox, and I even have an idea as to its origin. The problem is to get through a few games without succumbing to a grabber, and I donít know if I have the courage to do that.


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.

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