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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sportsblab Martyrdom for Tracey?
by Hal Vickery

Sportsblab radio has found a new martyr, and his name is Sean Tracey. His martyrdom occurred Wednesday night in Arlington, Texas when Sox manager Ozzie Guillen apparently ordered him to hit Hank Blalock in retaliation for Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla for plunking A.J. Pierzynski not once, but twice.

What followed was a juxtaposition of camera shots shown on Rangers television showing a ranting Ozzie Guillen shouting and throwing a water bottle followed by a shot of a distraught Tracey.

The assumption was made that Guillen was shouting at Tracey, and that Tracey was on the verge of tears because of this. Considering Guillen’s personality, this is probably true, although Guillen hasn’t actually confirmed it.

The reaction has been interesting to say the least. Over the top at one extreme was Sox television play-by-play man Hawk Harrelson, who wanted Pierzynski to meet Padilla after the game for a showdown. At the other extreme were the likes of WSCR radio’s Terry Boers and Dan Bernstein who were all over Guillen for going after Tracey.

In Bernstein’s eyes any form of retaliation against the Rangers by the White Sox would detract from the ultimate goal, which is winning the World Series. Bernstein cited Pierzynski, who was quoted in the newspapers as saying, "Would I like to go out to the mound and get somebody? Yeah. But at the same time, can our team afford me missing four or five games in a row? We are in a pennant race, and we are going to need everyone down the stretch. Can I afford to go out there? That's something we are going to have to weigh.”

Both then went on about how Pierzynski was the mature one here while Ozzie was immature for saying such things as, "I'll tell you one thing, if Padilla hit me twice, right now I'd be in the hospital or I'd be dead. But I will fight. I will fight because the way he hit him.”

Of course the one part of the Pierzynski quote neither mentioned was, “"If it happens again, maybe things will happen differently. But we will see what happens.''

The two sportsblabbers also went on about how Javier Vazquez should have been the one to plunk a Rangers batter rather than bringing in a rookie to do the job. They brought up the fact that Vazquez said in the post-game press conference that he thought Pierzynski had been hit intentionally the first time.

Of course that was after the second time Pierzynski was plunked, so the reliability of Vazquez’s reporting of his initial thoughts could have been influenced by subsequent events. Considering that Randy Johnson will miss his next scheduled start for hitting a batter after warnings were issued, the decision to put Tracey in to do the job makes a lot more sense.

Guillen knew at the time what nobody else did except Kenny Williams and maybe a few other people knew—that Tracey was about to be sent back to Charlotte because Williams had just acquired David Riske in a trade with the Red Sox. Tracey was the perfect player to give the assignment that would result in a suspension. Guillen gave him this assignment.

It’s not some sort of macho thing as the sportsblabbers insinuated. It’s the way baseball has been played for over one and a quarter centuries. If somebody goes after your players, you retaliate. Any pitcher will tell you that to make sure you hit a batter, you throw behind him. Tracey threw three pitches to Blalock. Two were inside and one was over the inside corner.

Tracey didn’t complete his assignment. Did Guillen chew him out in front of the players in the dugout? Maybe. No. Make that probably.

However, as usual the most over-the-top reaction to the result came from Boers who somehow reached the conclusion that as a result of his actions, Guillen has lost his team. Never mind that the Sox came out the next night and pounded the Rangers. Boers somehow has figured out that that the players are basically ignoring Guillen and policing themselves.

Boers’ “evidence” for that is a statement that Jermaine Dye made a few weeks back when Guillen criticized the play of the Sox during his post-game press conference. Dye’s response was, “That’s just Ozzie being Ozzie.”

No matter that Guillen has stated time after time that whatever he says to reporters he has already said to the players involved, and maybe that’s what Dye meant. No, according to Boers, the players are in some kind of passive resistance effort where their manager has become irrelevant to the team’s play.

And these are the guys that call so many of their callers “morons.”

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

I’ll be taking next week off to go to the Elkhart Jazz Festival. Who would think that Elkhart Indiana would host a three-day music festival, but they do, and we’ve been going for something like fifteen years.

See you in two weeks.


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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