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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Mariotti? He Gone!
by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends, bits and pieces….

• There is still talk about the Sox picking up at least one or two more players. Such talk is not unfounded based on past performance. The Sox have a tradition of announcing a big signing or contract extension before SoxFest each year. We’ve taken to calling this the “SoxFest Surprise,” and there is no reason to believe it won’t happen again this year.

Since the talk of a big signing is rampant right now, we wouldn’t be too surprised if the Sox already had a deal made and are waiting for the 13th or 14th to announce it.

Well, we can dream, can’t we?

• Speaking of A.J. Pierzynski the big question is obviously, “Is he the catcher we want?” It’s obvious that right now Ben Davis, the better defensive catcher on the club is a black hole in the batting order while Jamie Burke isn’t the greatest defensive catcher in the world. As usual with the Sox it takes two players to make a complete player.

The problem with Pierzynski is that, rightly or wrongly, he’s been labeled a “clubhouse cancer.” A lot of times such stories appear to be made up by sportswriters. If you listened to the sportswriters, you would think that Frank Thomas is an absolute jerk (which he isn’t, at least based on the experiences of people I know and respect) and, at least until late last season, that Sammy Sosa is the most wonderful human being to grace this planet.

As usual the sportswriters have it bass-ackwards. So what else is new?

If nothing else Pierzynski is one of the most intense players in the game today. Whether that translates into “clubhouse cancer,” it’s hard to say.

• Plug:

As many of you know, I’m a member of the executive board of the Windy City Sox Fans. If you don’t know about our club, we’re a group of Sox Fans who sponsor events to raise money for Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities, earmarked for Children’s Memorial Hospital. We also sponsor a toy drive every holiday season for Children’s.

Last week it was my privilege to interview one of the kids Children’s helps. The interview will appear in the next issue of our newsletter. If you’re not a member, you can pick up a copy of the newsletter at the WCSF booth at SoxFest. While you’re at it, plunk down a buck and pull a pencil for a prize at the “World Famous Pencil Pull” or if you have the funds, plunk down the $25.00 for an annual membership.

Every dime over and above expenses for sponsoring events goes to our charity. No one is making a dime from the organization except Children’s Memorial. Board members receive no compensation, and we pay full club-members prices for the events we work at.

End of plug.

• We’d like to say that we’re sad to say that Jay Mariotti’s morning sportsblab show has been dumped by WMVP. We’d like to say that, but we’d be lying.

Mariotti is the guy who called U.S. Cellular Field a “hell hole” after an incident in which a suburban police officer was punched out by an allegedly drunken fan. Mariotti has had nothing good to say about the white Sox, U.S. Cellular Field, or the South Side of Chicago for years.

Granted, we have expressed negative viewpoints about the Sox ourselves, but we have always been quick to compliment the Sox when they do something right. Mariotti, even when complimenting the Sox generally takes a shot at them in his never-ending feud with The Chairman.

Mariotti was quick to point out that he was the only sportswriter currently writing a daily column, appearing on a daily radio show, and also appearing regularly on television. He was not quick to point out something that appeared in one of the columns discussing his dismissal. The last forty minutes of his program were not live.

This prompted WMVP’s afternoon drive host Dan McNeil to jump all over Mariotti just before Christmas about being a team player. This should have served as a clue to one and all that something was up. The last time McNeil took a poke at Mariotti, he was told by station management to cease and desist.

The funny thing is that although Mariotti has suffered from poor ratings, neither side will admit that ratings are the problem. WMVP was not specific as to why Mariotti was fired, although Rob Feder in the Sun-Times pointed out that Mariotti’s contract stipulated that the station would be stuck with him for another six months if they didn’t drop him. Mariotti, true to form, blamed Jerry Reinsdorf.

Even if Reinsdorf had nothing to do with it, Mariotti does have a kind of a point. He took shots at the Sox almost daily at a time when WMVP is trying to negotiate a deal with the Sox beyond the 2005 season. Imagine how long any team would stay with a station that routinely took pot shots at them.

WMVP borrowed from Steve Dahl’s playbook. When Dahl syndicated his radio show to a station in Detroit, the station’s on-air personalities made use of the breaks, filled with commercials in Chicago but not in Detroit, to trash the show. Dahl pulled the plug after months of inaction by the Detroit station’s management.

The difference between Dahl and WMVP is that WMVP waited until Mariotti was on vacation to pull the plug. Dahl did it in the middle of his show.

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

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