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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Finally a Sox Game!
by Hal Vickery

Having to work for a living certainly can take some of the joy out of life.  For example, this past Friday the job prevented me from hearing this year’s first broadcast of a Sox game from spring training camp.  When I got to my car, it was already the ninth inning and the Sox and Diamondbacks were tied 3-3 in the ninth. 

Shingo Takatsu was on the mound and struggling.  Some things never change.  You sign “Mr. Zero,” and the first game he pitches in, he blows a one-run lead.  Typical Sox signing.  Of course, you then remind yourself it’s just the first game of spring training.  Then the Sox fan in you takes over and you remind yourself that this gives Takatsu about 190 more opportunities to screw up.   

The mood of pessimism continued when the Sox offense failed to drive in Ross Gload, whose leadoff double started the bottom of the ninth.  The names were unfamiliar, but the pattern was the same. 

Still, it’s spring, the season of renewed hope, and that hope was soon rekindled when Bobby Smith singled in the winning run in the tenth.  Maybe there is hope after all.  After all if Bobby Smith can come through in a clutch situation, maybe some of our real players can, too, once the season starts for real. 

It didn’t hurt when I found out that both Esteban Loaiza and Mark Buehrle had good outings.  After Buehrle’s turn at the mound he spent time in the radio booth with John Rooney and Ed Farmer.  Farmer reported that Buehrle said he could have gone nine innings.  That’s the kind of thing you love to hear, even though Farmer was quick to remind everyone that the only pitcher he’s ever seen who didn’t go through a dead-arm period in spring training was Jack McDowell. 

Yet another good sign was the performance of Billy Koch.  Koch reportedly was consistent in the 90-93 mph range, not bad for a first spring outing.  He also struck out two Diamondbacks in his one-inning appearance.   

It was also good to hear that both Jon Garland and Danny Wright pitched well in their debuts against the Rockies in the other split squad game.   

This is a weak division.  The pitching is looking strong.  Could there be a postseason in our future?  Well, we are talking about the Sox here. 

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 Of course Sox management always has to do something to make you scratch your head.  This time it was the announcement that tickets for the Cubs series will not go on sale on March 13 when individual game tickets go on sale. 

According to the Sox press release, “The tickets are on hold because of continued interest in season tickets and the new "Starting Nine" ticket package and a decrease in seating capacity at the ballpark.” 

Somehow, the first part of the statement doesn’t wash.  Season ticket sales were supposedly up in 2003 due to the All-Star Game.  It’s pretty unlikely that the season ticket base is going to increase this year, especially after the inaction of the Sox during the off-season.  As for the “Starting Nine” packages, one would think that sales would also decrease due to the increase in games required and the general increase in ticket prices and parking. 

On the other hand, with several thousand fewer seats, the Sox might just be hedging, waiting to see how many extra seats will be purchased by season ticket holders.  That group is being offered the right to purchase extra tickets for the Cubs series.   

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 As I was listening to the end of the Sox spring opener, I realized that it was one month to the day before the Sox season opener in Kansas City.  The Sox home opener is one month from Saturday.  There goes that thing about having a job again!  The entire opening series consists of day games. 

It makes one yearn for retirement.


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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