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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

 

Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

Sox Sounds Better!

by George Bova

What a lovely summer this is shaping up to be!  It seemed very unlikely to be so just 10 weeks ago. 

It had been wet and unseasonably cool spring and weather seemed to interfere with every Sox homestand.  Not that there were many home dates for the Sox.  The entire month of May they played just nine home games!  The Sox home record (so far) has been only 19-24.  And yet, somehow, our Sox are in first-place.  The Twins are challenging and the Tigers are making noise, too, but half the season is over and the Sox have the rail position.

Not bad at all.

The Twins can never be counted out, at least until October when they inevitably collapse.  If the A.L. Central earned a weak reputation the past ten years, it can be laid squarely at the feet of Ron Gardenhire and his anemic 6-15 post-season record managing the Twins to collective yawns from coast to coast.  Detroit collapsed in amazing fashion in 2006 and Cleveland's post-season chokes are legendary... exceeded only by a certain National League team.

Thank God for our Sox, the only A.L. Central team to earn a world championship on behalf of the division.  Lou Piniella is no genius but just maybe he was right after the Sox spanked his team three-straight.  This truly is our division to lose?

As always, it figure to come down to winning intra-division games.  Only the Sox and Twins have shown any real ability to beat the remainder of the division.  The five-game edge playing home games (where they are 14 games over .500) Minnesota currently enjoys over the Sox will fade away as the summer progresses.  They won't get to fatten up on the National League (10 games over .500) for the remainder of the season either. 

The Twins will have to beat the White Sox straight up if they figure to win the A.L. Central.  And vice versa.  There are seven games left to be played between these two -- all of them inside the Hump Dome. 

Sox Fans, aren't you glad it isn't Jerry Manuel leading your team into battle in these games?  This Sox Fan sure is.

It's shaping up as a wonderful summer for one other big reason, too.  The final scores sound better but the radiocast themselves sound better, too.

For me, Sox baseball is something of a soundtrack for the entire summer.  Whether working inside the garage, out back in the garden, driving the car or enjoying the outdoor weather, the Sox radiocast is never very far away.  I can still recite from memory ten year-old radio commercials from hearing them nearly daily for six straight months.

"Do you love your baby, momma?"

"Kiss your feet and say, 'Welcome!'"

"The union electricians and contractors of IBEW/NECA Chicago!"

Etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Past years were glory years.  It was John Rooney on play-by-play, preceded and followed by Dave Wills on the Sox pre- and post-shows.   It was good enough that I routinely turned down the volume on my TV so I could watch the game and listen to the vastly-superior radio call Rooney provided.  Those days all ended in 2006.

For me the radiocast became painful to listen to once Ed Farmer moved to the play-by-play seat.  I tuned out.  Working in the garage, the garden, and the yard became quiet affairs. Driving the car meant nothing but music with short check-ins to get an updated score.  The radio stayed off and my television's volume control stayed up, too, though I more often kept occupied reading papers or magazines than listen to Hawk Harrelson moan and groan through nine innings worth of faux homespun nonsense  

Whatever talent Chris Singleton might have developed as an apprentice color commentator was never to manifest itself trying to share a booth with Farmer.  Lucky for Singleton another opportunity presented itself before the 2008 season began because clearly he would be the fall guy for any and all of Ed Farmer's shortcomings to conduct a play-by-play radiocast.  Lucky for Sox Fans, too, because the addition of Steve Stone has been nothing short of a revelation.  The days of enjoying Sox radiocasts are back!

While his baseball insights are top-drawer, Stone has also made Farmer a better play-by-play man.  The hard edges of Farmer's personality have been worn smooth by Stone who knows when to pick up a topic his partner offers and also when to tactfully change the discussion to an entirely new topic.   Farmer hasn't sounded this good since Rooney artfully managed the same task Stone has proven himself capable of, too.

I'm a believer!

It's an open question what the future might be of Harrelson's sidekick Darrin Jackson, still without a new contract offer from the Sox.  Like Singleton, Jackson is forever destined to be the fall guy for the shortcomings of his play-by-play man.  I personally like his work, especially on Fox where he clearly has an easier time working with better talents than Hawk Harrelson.  It would be a shame to lose D.J. not unlike it was a shame to lose Tom Paciorek, the previous fall guy for Hawk's ineptitude and suffocating ego.

At least the Sox figure to have somebody to step in and replace Darrin Jackson's role in Hawk's booth in a manner D.J. has never fully-managed:  Keeping Hawk focused and under control.  Having listened to how much better the Sox radiocast have become, there is little doubt in my mind Steve Stone is just the person to finally pull Hawk out of the decade-long tailspin of quality he has suffered in his TV call.  His mentor, Don Drysdale, wouldn't recognize today's Hawk.

Stone saved Farmer on radio.  He can save Hawk on TV, too, where the stakes are even greater.

Meanwhile my radio is tuned in, and happily so.


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive.  You can write George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com

More features from George Bova here!

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