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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Clincher Euphoria
by Hal Vickery

It’s funny how one becomes identified by one’s fandom. Of course it helps when you’re almost always seen wearing an item or two of your team’s paraphernalia, at least among strangers, but it even happens within your own family, at least in the extended part.

I’ve picked up a lot of that in the past few weeks in phone calls and visits with my mom. Since the end of the series several friends and relatives have all said pretty much the same thing: “I’ll bet Hal’s pretty happy right now.”

Of course they’re right. The only time I’ve been anything less than ecstatic since the Sox clinched the AL Central was the three days Buster T. Beagle and Missy T. Cairn (my son Jeff’s dog) decided to go on a little adventure without our permission. That took a little of the joy off the Sox wins in World Series games one and two.

Of course the joy returned when we received the report that they had been found, and that has continued unabated since.

Shortly after the Sox won the Series, I trekked over to Grandstand to pick up some items for myself, my wife Lee, and Jeff. It was my second trip there, the first coming after the Sox won the ALCS. That first time I did a Hitchcock-like cameo on Telemundo as I walked out of the store as a live report was being aired.

On the second trip, there was more media presence there, but this time no one was on the air. Standing behind the counter, and helping me select a couple of caps was former Sox pre- and post-game host Dave Wills, now the radio play-by-play announcer for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Now if anyone has been identified by his Sox fandom in this town, it is Dave. He asked how I was enjoying this, and I replied that it still hadn’t sunk in, that I felt like somebody had to pinch me to make sure it was real. Not wanting to resort to pinching me, Dave replied, “It’s real all right.”

The memory of that came back as I was going through some of the message board threads hear at WSI the past couple of days. Now that John Rooney has moved on to the St. Louis Cardinals, thanks to the short-sightedness of management at WSCR, the new radio home of the Sox, and Ed Farmer has been named as next year’s play-by-play announcer, speculation has begun on who the new color man will be.

I’d like to present a bit of a conspiracy theory here, though. Rather than speculate on who will take the second chair in the booth, I’d like to speculate beyond 2006.

We’ve all listened to Ed Farmer. We all know that his style is best described as “dry.” Somehow I don’t think that is going to sustain the Sox’ broadcasts over a 162-game schedule. Frankly, Farmer’s delivery wears on you after a half inning. He’s fine injecting his baseball knowledge, but his deadpan style will put fans to sleep when he tries to sustain it for six innings or so during a game.

That’s why my thoughts have turned to Dave Wills. Yes, I know Dave has another year left on his contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and I doubt that he’d even try to get out of it. If management at The Score is halfway intelligent (something they have yet to show), they would have already approached the D-Rays about releasing Dave from his contract.

And that’s where my conspiracy theory comes into play. We all know the kind of criticism Farmer will be subjected to from day one. Fans, newspaper columnists, and perhaps even the Sox themselves will want a change after a year. And guess who just might be available then.

I can see it now. Farmer will gladly go back into a role in which he feels much more comfortable, and WSCR and the Sox not only get a now-veteran play-by-play man, but also one who is identifiable as a dyed-in-the-wool Sox fan.

Well, I can dream, can’t I?

Speaking of people identified by their Sox fandom, that is exactly what the Sox need for their pre- and post-game shows. And again, I would assume there will be one available come spring. One of the best things about WMVP hiring Bryan Dolgin was that he’s a lifelong Sox fan.

He seemed a bit nervous early in the 2005 season, but he grew into the role. He didn’t make anybody forget Dave Wills, but he injected his own personality into the job, and ended up with even the most diehard Wills fans saying that if he wasn’t Dave, at least he did a great job taking over for him.

It is not unprecedented that the pre- and post-game host change stations with the club. Wills did just that when the Sox moved from the old WMAQ to WMVP. There is no reason that the people in charge at WSCR should make a similar move.

Consider the alternatives. If they make the move internally we’re liable to get somebody like Lawrence Holmes, who as late as September was ranting that games against the Royals weren’t drawing 30,000 fans.

Or we might get the likes of Jesse Rogers, who for the past five years has been talking about his conversion from being a Cubs fan into becoming a “Chicago fan.” Not exactly what Sox fans are looking for in their pre- and post-game hosts, is it?

Bryan Dolgin has earned the right to make the move. He’s a lifelong Sox fan, and he did a terrific job during the 2005 season and postseason. WSCR needs to hire him for 2006.

While I’m at it, I’ll fire an early salvo at White Sox management in general and Brooks Boyer in particular. It is my understanding that Nancy Faust’s contract expired at the end of this baseball season. Back in June on “Nothing But Nancy Day,” Boyer said that Nancy could have her job as long as she wanted it.

We trust that Mr. Boyer meant what he said. Nancy is another person who is identified by her relationship with the Sox. It was bad enough PR to lose John Rooney, but at least the Sox can put the onus of that on WSCR. Unlike his predecessor, Boyer seems to realize how much of a part of the entire ballpark experience Nancy is.

We trust that the Sox will be making an announcement regarding Nancy’s future sometime in the near future.


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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