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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

SportsBlab Radio Blabber
by Hal Vickery

You’d think the Sox were in danger of blowing their lead! All last week, the talk on sportsblab radio was the Sox recent poor record at home. When they lost a series to the Toronto Blue Jays, the hosts of these programs began asking, “Can the Sox advance in the playoffs?”

Meanwhile, these same hosts touted the return of Kerry Wood and Nomar Garciaparra as the tonic that would help the Lovable Losers leapfrog half the National League to make a wildcard bid. The talk diminished somewhat as the two saviors couldn’t stop the Cubs from losing their first two games with them back.

I guess Sox fans can take solace in the fact that the talk about the other team suddenly became a round of finger pointing at how “such a talented team” (I swear if I hear that phrase again I’m going to throw up) could end up going so terribly wrong. Another source of consolation is the very fact that the question about the Sox actually assumed they would make it to the playoffs.

A couple of weekend hosts on WSCR showed Saturday why they are weekend hosts. It was fun listening to Jesse Rogers come up with his theory of why the North Siders are failing. “What’s with all this talk about fundamentals?” Rogers asked.

He had his own theory of why the North Siders were falling apart: So what if their pitchers don’t have the sense to cover first three times in the same game and that this failure “I guess cost them a couple of runs,” according to Rogers.

No, the lack of any kind of little league execution isn’t the Cubs problem. According to Rogers, “The reason is that the Cubs starting pitching has been terrible.” He went on to cite the performance of Mark “The Savior” Prior in Thursday afternoon’s game against the Phillies. “Prior was terrible, so why does he get a pass?” Rogers asked.

Well, Jesse, after that game, Prior was 7-4 with a 3.64 ERA. To single him out along with rookie pitcher Rich Hill is just plain stupid. To ignore the lack of execution by a team all year is also stupid.

I didn’t stick around for any Sox talk on Rogers’ show. I don’t think I could have stomached it. I can’t even imagine what he would have to say about the Sox recent poor performance at home.

One thing Rogers could have figured out if he knew anything about baseball, though, is that execution of fundamentals has been one of the things lacking in recent Sox teams but has been a critical factor in any number of Sox wins this year. That’s one reason why the Sox have won so many games by one or two runs.

Rogers’ blabbering about the Cubs was only my first encounter with weekend sportsblab radio Saturday. Later in the afternoon, I was in the car again listening to a show that featured Pro Football Weekly editor and former Bears color commentator Hub Arkush.

Let’s just say that Arkush needs to stick to football or at least learn the names of the players for Chicago teams in other sports. Again, the topic was Sox playoff chances. Arkush was talking about how the Sox would not do well in the playoffs if this year’s ace of the pitching staff pitched as poorly as he did in his last outing.

I thought I heard Arkush wrong, but then he repeated the ace’s name: Jon Gardner. My wife became alarmed when I started yelling, “That’s Garland, you moron!” I think she was relieved when I put on some music.

--------

Saturday wasn’t a total waste, though. I did get a hair cut.

Oh, and there was that no-hitter I went to!

I attended my first baseball game in 1956. I’ve seen a few of no-hitters on TV, but I’ve never seen one up close and personal until Saturday night. Granted it wasn’t a major league game, but it was a pro game.

I’d been to a couple of close encounters, also minor league games, one in 1991 and another in 2004. Both were Kane County Cougars games, and both were broken up by sharp singles with one out in the ninth inning.

This time the Northern League Joliet Jackhammers were facing the Kansas City T-Bones in Joliet. Luis Villareal was pitching for Joliet. Villareal was sharp. Eleven T-Bones struck out compared to just three walks.

After the fourth inning I told my wife, “Keep an eye on that middle column on the right of the top row of the scoreboard.” That’s hits.

You could tell Villareal was feeling the pressure in the eighth inning. His control, which was generally good, deteriorated a little as a few balls were thrown way out of the strike zone. One pitch, with no one on base, was at least a foot wide of the catcher’s mitt and went to the screen.

During the last two innings, Villareal had to just pause. You could see him taking one or two deep breaths to get his focus back. Finally, the last T-Bones batter bounced one weakly to second and the game was over.

I’m surprised Villareal survived the mob of players that surrounded him as the crowd went berserk. It was fun watching the young lefty wave his cap to the crowd as he made his way to the dugout.

The moral of this week’s column: Forget about the sportsblab idiots. Just watch ball games. You’ll feel a lot more fulfilled.


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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