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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

No news is bad news!
by Hal Vickery

You can tell it’s February. For the past few days the biggest story in Chicago sports hasn’t been the Bulls or Blackhawks. Of course, nowadays, they rarely are. The biggest story isn’t Illinois’ drive towards the final four. They kind of got derailed by Penn State. No, the biggest sports story in Chicago is that Ozzie Guillen declined an invitation to visit the White House for a photo op with the 2005 World Series Champions and the President of the United States.

Sports mediot Mike North asked Jerry Reinsdorf why Guillen declined the invitation. Reinsdorf explained that Ozzie was on vacation with his family after a busy fall and winter. He explained that this would be Ozzie’s last chance to spend any quality time with his family before pitchers and catchers report later in the week.

This was not good enough for North, who decided to use the platform of WSCR’s “White Sox Weekly” program to rant about Guillen’s apparent snubbing of the President. North’s rant should have Reinsdorf wondering why he ever signed a five-year deal with WSCR to broadcast Sox games.

In the past the weekly Sox show on WMVP and before that on WMAQ has been used as a publicity organ for the club. It has used to keep interest up during the long off-season. The Sox make guests available to the program, and the interviews are generally fluff.

North’s few appearances on the program have been anything but that. We caught one of his appearances a couple of months ago. He sounded as if he had put no preparation into the program. Apparently this week, bolstered by the tape of Friday’s interview with Reinsdorf, North decided to take on his usual role as “controversial host.”

Unfortunately for North, a number of attempts at controversy have ended badly. At his worst, he sounds like a racist and xenophobe. At his best he usually comes off sounding like an idiot. Unfortunately this is what CBS radio thinks is worth a multiyear contract worth millions of dollars.

If Mike North’s ravings weren’t bad enough, even Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley put in his two cents, criticizing Guillen’s rejection of the honor of visiting with the President.

Some critics have brought up the fact that Guillen is a newly sworn-in United States citizen who for that very reason should attend the photo op.

To make a long story short, this has not been a good week for Guillen. About the only upside is that his biggest critic has been North, whose opinions should carry the weight of those of a petulant two-year-old.

I think you can probably figure out the position I’m going to take on this issue. It is a non-issue.

Perhaps the most disgusting thing about all of this is that this whole so-called story has been transformed into some kind of political issue. Speculation on WSI’s message boards was that Ozzie was making a political statement by not going to the White House, that this was some kind of snub of President Bush.

I think this is more of an indication of the political polarization of the nation than it is of Ozzie’s reasoning behind his declining to visit the White House. Ozzie gave his reasons for not attending. He attended a similar ceremony as third base coach of the Florida Marlins a couple of years ago. It doesn’t seem that anyone who did that then is making a political statement now.

What the critics seem to be forgetting is that this is indeed a free country. It is Guillen’s right to not attend a ceremony that has been postponed on more than one occasion so that it is being held while Ozzie is on vacation just a few days before the opening of spring training. Guillen wasn’t exactly refusing to respond to a subpoena. He was declining an invitation to a photo opportunity.

In fact, Guillen did say that he would go if he could take his family with him. That request was denied.

So let the mediots bellow. Guillen has every right not to go to Washington if he doesn’t want to. So do the other players who are not attending for various reasons. If he doesn’t go, the only person who might actually be affected in any way by the result is Guillen. One day he may regret not having gone. On the other hand, he might not. Whatever the case, it is still his choice to make. It isn’t your choice, or mine, or (God forbid) Mike North’s.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve received a further update on the condition of Jan Bryk who recently underwent surgery. She is feeling well and will actually start working part-time this week. This is great news, and all of her friends are looking forward to seeing her at the ballpark this summer…if she can find some way to get her hands on tickets!


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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