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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

A New Season?
by Hal Vickery

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Yes, let me be the first person, other than a retailer to wish you the joys of the holiday season.

What? You say Iím just a wee bit early with my wishes? Not according to my calendar!

Of course I have to admit that my calendar is a little bit different from most peopleís, so that might be the cause of some confusion. You see, my calendar only has two seasons: Baseball and Christmas.

It works like this: Baseball begins in mid-February when pitchers and catchers report and ends with the presentation of the World Series Championship trophy. So Baseball officially ended Friday night when Bud Selig presented the trophy to William DeWitt at the new Busch Stadium.

At that moment Christmas begins on my calendar and of course lasts until mid-February when pitchers and catchers report for the new season of Baseball.

The best part of baseball season, of course, is being able to watch or listen to my favorite sport nearly every day. I canít imagine a year going by without watching at least one game per day, or at least listening to it on the radio.

They say that football is now Americaís favorite sport. I just wonder how true that would be without sports books. During football season a week doesnít go by without numerous ads on sportsblab radio stations for some ďexpertísĒ pick of the week.

Add office pools to that, and the amount of gambling activity around that sports makes it seem that no one is interested in baseball. After all, how much do you hear about baseball betting anymore except for the occasional person who flies to Vegas plunks down some cash on his team to win the World Series.

But thatís other people. To my mind there is no more interesting or fascinating sport that baseball. It is the only sport that can create tension inside of me even when I have no rooting interest in the game, just from the situation.

Think about it. Bases loaded, two out, bottom of the ninth. The home team is down by three. Cleanup hitter is up and has worked the count to three-two. Maybe heís on the ninth or tenth pitch of the at-bat because heís been fouling them off. How can you not be gritting your teeth and have your stomach tied up in knots, even if itís the Kane County Cougars vs. the Cedar Rapids Kernels at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva, IL?

Or how about this? The starter for the Joliet Jackhammers has pitched 8⅔ innings of no-hit ball? Heís walked about five batters since the seventh inning and heís so nervous, that heís bouncing a lot of his pitches in. If youíre in the stands at Silver Cross Field, youíre on your feet even though this game features players who are no longer (or never have been) in any major league teamís farm system. And when the final out is made, youíre going to talk about that no-hitter for years to come because you actually witnessed one.

So to any baseball fan, how can Baseball not be one of the official seasons of the year.

As for my second season, that goes back to childhood. Iíve always loved Christmas. I love all of the old Christmas movies: all nine thousand versions of A Christmas Carol, Itís a Wonderful Life, all that sentimentality that we, as sophisticated 21st Century people claim to laugh at because they are ďtoo coolĒ for that sort of thing.

But me? I cry at Scroogeís conversion. I cry when the townspeople of Bedford Falls come to George Baileyís aid in his hour of need. Whether or not you hold to the religious aspect of the holiday, Christmas should be about the best that is in us, truly a time of peace on earth and goodwill towards others.

And you canít forget the presents either. And some of those come to fruition during Baseball. You know what I mean. Last yearís biggest Christmas present to Sox fans was Kenny Williamsí signing of Jim Thome. This year, who knows what the present will be, but it most certainly will be something that will bring back memories of Baseball past and hope for Baseball future.

The season of Christmas also brings us SoxFest. Is there any better example of the spirit of the season of Christmas than all of those Sox fans starting up conversations with total strangers about the object of their mutual affection? If thatís not goodwill, I donít know what is!

Another event during Christmas that I look forward to occurs every January when Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities holds a luncheon at which they receive contributions from various charitable organizations. Even if I canít make it, I still look forward to it because the Windy City Sox Fans are able to present their check to the charity. The funds come from various fundraising efforts. For several years that amount has been at least $10 thousand.

One of these days Iím going to make good on something Iíve said for years that Iíd like to do. I have to admit that I love Christmas trees.

One day Iím going to put up a tree in my living room that Iíll never take down. From late October through mid-February it will be decorated with the usual Christmas decorations, but it will undergo a transformation when the season of Baseball begins.

Somewhere Iím going to find all kinds of baseball-related (and especially Sox related) decorations and replace the Christmas decorations with those. Thatís right. A baseball tree!

Who knows? Maybe itíll start a trendÖor not.

______________________________________________________________________

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!

Have a Thought about
A New Season?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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