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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Watch the Bias!
by Hal Vickery

Be thankful it’s over!

With all the hype last week over the Cubs-Boston “rematch” (from 1918), you’d never know there was a club in Chicago with the best record in baseball. Or if you did get that impression, you would have sworn they played on the North Side.

Of course we did get to hear again all about the “Curse of the Bambino” and the “Curse of the Goat,” which if nothing else, at least fills a line in a column or a few seconds of air time where the writer or speaker doesn’t have to put any thought into his or her piece.

Yes, it was a the first meeting between the two clubs since 1918, and a few media types who actually bothered to do some research even noted that that historic meeting took place not “in Wrigleyville” (to quote one television reporter) but “across town at Comiskey Park.” Some even noted that Babe Ruth actually pitched in that series.

Meanwhile, flocks of folks wearing caps emblazoned with a large B and jerseys with “Red Sox” printed across them somehow found tickets to the historic match-up. Those who did were interviewed on radio and TV. We had the inevitable comparisons between Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.

We heard, of course, from those fans how great a place Wrigley Field is: the ivy covered walls, the history attached to the place, all the same things that have been pounded into our heads since P.K. Wrigley started filming ads with the like of Ned Locke in the ‘50s to try to attract enough people to raise Cubs attendance above 300,000 for the season. (“You can soak up the sun or sit in the shade. It’s like a picnic in the heart of the city.”)

After all of the bombardment, you’d have come away with the impression that the Red Sox hadn’t visited Chicago since that 1918 series. Well, they haven’t, have they?

All of the media gushing over this series led to a few excesses. I rarely watch the news on WFLD-TV, Chicago’s Fox Network outlet. After turning on their sports report Friday, I probably never will again.

As the Chicago White Sox were playing in San Diego, sports anchor Jill Carlson reported on the game that day between the Cubs and the “Sox.” Not Boston. Not the Red Sox. The Sox.

Okay, you might forgive her for this little faux pas if she wasn’t a native of the area. After all, with the ESPNization of sports, we’ve all grown accustomed to the parochial Red Sox fans employed as analysts for that cable network referring to the Red Sox as the Sox (or more appropriately, the “Sawx”).

So I went to WFLD-TV’s web site to look up Ms. Carlson’s biography. Nope. The biography states that she grew up in suburban Lombard. Her bio doesn’t reveal her baseball allegiance as she grew up (if any), but we can all guess what it probably was and still is.

So what’s the point of this ranting?

For one thing, the 2005 Red Sox are not the World Champions. Important changes have been made to their roster, changes important enough to have them reeling as they came to Chicago in the midst of a long sub-.500 streak. This was a battle of second place clubs.

The real battle was over 2000 miles away where the first-place White Sox (the real Sox) faced the first-place San Diego Padres. Of course West Coast games are played while the local news is aired, so we can almost forgive the lack of (White) Sox coverage. I say almost because the lack of coverage given to the team with the best record in baseball, the first team to win forty games in 2005 has been less than adequate from the start.

The other point I’d like to make is that the reporting is just plain lazy. The idea of a curse is kind of funny if you hear it once. But we’ve been hearing about the curse of the billy goat now for years. The Fox Network’s game-of-the-week coverage also brought in the black cat from 1969 (and a couple of days before) and poor Steve Bartman. Enough already!

The Sox have been penantless for longer than the Red Sox, and you don’t hear Sox fans complaining about a curse. The occasional media type will try to find one, maybe the Curse of the Black Sox, but when Sox fans are approached with this possible excuse for their club’s failings, at best the proponents of such ideas are told that the whole idea of a curse is ridiculous. At worst such dismissals are laced with a string of four-letter words that would make a sailor blush.

I can only guess the kind of idiocy we’ll see next week when the Cubs come to The Cell to play the real Sox (the ones who had the name “Sox” when the team from Boston was still called the Pilgrims).

The final point I’d like to make about the hype surrounding the Cubs-Red Sox series is that next weekend the White Sox will be meeting the Los Angeles Dodgers, the club the Sox faced the last time they appeared in the World Series. We’ll be watching the media to see how much attention gets paid to this series compared to the hype this week.

We should expect to see a lot of interest since several members of the 1959 Sox will be honored, including Jim Rivera, Jim Landis, Bob Shaw, and Billy Pierce.

We can expect just as much media coverage of that special event as we had this week, right? Hello?


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.

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