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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Chicken Little Mariotti

Once again the sky is falling, and once again it seems to be falling on the White Sox.  At least that’s what those in the media would love to have you believe.  It all stems from an incident in which a father and his teenage son rushed from the stands and allegedly (you know, innocent until proven guilty) assaulted Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa. 

And once again the head Chicken Little is the alleged columnist for the Sun-Times Jay Mariotti.  In a column published last Friday, Mariotti wept and whaled about the black eye that this incident would give to the White Sox, the city of Chicago in general, and the Armour Square and Bridgeport neighborhoods in Chicago (although, there is no evidence in the column that Mariotti is even aware of the names of the neighborhoods in which Comiskey Park is located). 

Here is what Mariotti had to say: 

“It doesn't look good for the White Sox and the safety of their maligned park when this scene flashes across TV screens.  As it is, fans aren't too interested in watching a struggling ballclub in an obsolete, ill-conceived stadium in a less-than-desirable neighborhood.  After this episode, will anyone want to go again?  The timing couldn't be worse for Sox management, which now has to explain how these morons slipped through the gates with a knife and slipped onto the field with ease.”

Let’s break this down piece by piece. 

First of all, in what ballpark has a fan not at one time or another broken out of the stands to run the bases, burn the American flag, try to shake a player’s hand, be chased by security personnel, or some other ill-conceived notion?  Mariotti admits such incidents happen everywhere but only sees fit to mention those in Chicago. 

“And as the punches and kicks sink into your consciousness, you can't help but think back to other strange incidents in Chicago: the day at Wrigley Field when Randy Myers was attacked by a 27-year-old bond trader who came out of box seats; the night at Wrigley when the Dodgers piled into the stands after a fan stole a player's cap; and, of course, the infamous Disco Demolition Night that Steve Dahl still talks about proudly, not understanding what a stooge-for-life he is. Every city has its moments of shame.” 

Okay, Jay, how about some of those other incidents to put the entire incident in perspective?   

Steve Dahl until last week had his Bob Green watch segment.  May I suggest a Jay Mariotti watch to replace it?  There are certain similarities between both columnists besides bad hair.  One of them is that they both keep bringing up the same tired themes over and over again. 

In Mariotti’s case a recurring theme is the “obsolete, ill-conceived stadium in a less-than-desirable neighborhood.”  What exactly is wrong with Comiskey Park, Mr. Mariotti?  Is it those rarely occupied upper deck seats above row 15?  Is it the fact that Comiskey Park is more like Royals Stadium than Camden Yards?  Exactly what is wrong with Comiskey Park? 

As for the neighborhood, exactly what is wrong with it?  Not enough bars around the ballpark?  Too many people of an undesirable color living in close proximity?  The interesting thing about this whole neighborhood issue is that the people who went to see the Rolling Stones less than a week before had no problems with the inhabitants of the neighborhood.  Do they only come out of the woodwork for Sox games?   

Of course, the really important thing is that the alleged assailants did not come from the neighborhoods surrounding Comiskey Park.  The father was from Alsip and the son from Blue Island, both a pretty good drive from Bridgeport.  The really sad thing is that people read columns like Mariotti’s and believe them without question. 

The last issue deals with security.  The “knife” Mariotti mentions was a pocket knife, something he never brings up in the column.  Pocket knives of course are carried in pockets, a fact that seems to elude Mr. Mariotti as he tries to somehow make Sox security responsible for the knife getting into the ballpark.  Yes, the knife was out hooked around a belt loop as the father of the dynamic duo charged the field, but I seriously doubt that it was there when he entered the ballpark. 

Did Chicago take a black eye in this case?  Perhaps it did since the incident did occur here, but no more than similar incidents in other cities.  

Did the neighborhood in which the ballpark is located have anything to do with the incident?  Of course not!  The incident might have occurred if the Sox played in Comiskey Park’s original intended location of Addison.  In fact it might have been easier to get to Addison from Blue Island than to Bridgeport. 

Was Sox security somehow lax in letting a man in with a knife?  Only if they have X-ray vision. 

So once again, Jay Mariotti got it all wrong.  It’s amazing how such journalistic tripe makes its way past editors.  But then again it may be understandable.  Bob Green’s column lasted in the Tribune for over twenty years, and it took a scandal and not the obviously poor quality of his writing for him to lose his job.


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 nsmf@aol.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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