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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Media Chokes on Sox Success!
by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends, bits and pieces….

Can it possibly be just seven (as I write this) days ago that the Sox were in the throes of a seven-game losing streak with apparently no hope of their bats coming alive? Is it only a week since the local baseball “experts” were preparing to write about how this White Sox collapse compared to other historic choke jobs? What a difference a week makes!

The local scribes have had to put away their record books, at least for the time being. In the recent tradition of the local sports “writers” loving all things Cubs and hating all things White Sox, they just had to compare this perceived collapse to one involving the Cubs, the great choke of 1969.

Unfortunately for the “experts” the Sox showed that they weren’t about to choke. So now the “writers” will have to find a more appropriate choke job the next time the Sox lose more than one game in a row. Some posting on the WSI boards think they have found the answer with the 1964 Phillies. Let’s see how long it takes for that choke job to come up in the local media.

Meanwhile, the Sox are again rolling winning, as this is written five of their last six, salvaging a win from the Yankees series on a brilliant performance by Jose Contreras. In fact, it has been pitching and timely hitting that has carried the Sox on this streak. With the return of Scott Podsednik this week, the Sox will have something resembling their regular lineup except for the injured Joe Crede.

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If Bruce Levine is right, however, the regular Sox lineup might be changing towards the beginning of this week. The Ken Griffey, Jr. rumors have surfaced, and Levine is the main rumor monger.

According to Levine, the Sox and Reds have come to an agreement involving what players will be exchanged and how much of Griffey’s salary will be taken over by the Sox. The rub in all of this is that, according to Levine, Griffey has to make the statement that it is time for him to move on to take the heat off Reds ownership.

Whether or not any of this comes to pass is anybody’s guess. It seems obvious that the Sox need a replacement third baseman more than they do yet another outfielder/DH. We’ll know whether Levine is right soon. The deal has to be made by the trading deadline this Wednesday.

------------------------------------------

• Thanks to Dan Helpingstine for posting the germ of this forthcoming rant on the WSI message boards. The topic was the printing by the Chicago Tribune of the Wild Card standings. More specifically it was about the fact that newspapers owned by the Tribune Co. are the only ones who somehow manage to tortuously extend those standing so that they include a team owned by said Tribune Co.

Dan wrote, “…I can't see how even the Cubune can still put the Cubs in the Wild Card race anymore. Even Cubs fans, who six weeks ago thought their team was going to catch St. Louis, know the season is over. How can the Cubs catch Florida or the Phillies when they can't catch the Brewers and are as bad as the Reds?”

The answer is multi-layered, but it all boils down to corporate synergy.

As the Tribune’s public editor Don Wycliff noted less than two weeks ago, “[T]he realities of modern corporate life put them [Tribune writers and editors] into an inherently conflicted situation. The most they can do is disclose the conflict. After that, it's up to the reader/viewer to follow the age-old caution: Let the buyer beware."

It is an editorial decision to stretch the NL Wild Card standings beyond recognition in the vain attempt (at least to anyone who knows a lick about baseball) to make it appear that the Cubs are anywhere near being in that race. It is an editorial decision prompted by corporate synergy.

The Tribune sports department consciously or unconsciously feels pressure to put a sister company in the best possible light in order to increase corporate profits. We can see this synergy in the Tribune’s and WGN-TV’s nomination of Wrigley Field as one of the “seven wonders of Chicago.” The wonder of The Shrine is that it is still standing with all that falling concrete!

The Cubs sell their ballpark and its neighborhood as much or more as they sell their team, but the “fans,” who probably are best described as East Lakeview fans or Wrigley Field fans, still call themselves “Cubs fans” even though they may not even know that Sammy Sosa was traded before this season started.

Cubs ownership going all the way back to P.K. Wrigley has sold the idea of beautiful Wrigley Field. I still remember the ads with “Uncle” Ned Locke. “You can relax in the sun or sit in the shade.” Still the Cubs rallying cry for the better part of sixty years has been, “Wait till next year!”

Wrigley once fired manager Phil Cavaretta, who found a place on the South Side afterwards, for saying before the season started that the Cubs didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell on the Fourth of July of winning anything that year. The Tribune Co. has picked up on this, again albeit consciously or unconsciously, and have gone so far as to refuse to admit it in the last week of August.

There are still butts to put into seats in September. So you can bet that the Cubs will be included in the Tribune’s Wild Card standings until they are mathematically eliminated, even if the fall into fifth place behind the Reds.

The funny thing is that as soon as the Cubs win a couple of games in a row, which is inevitable with over a month left to play, there will be chirping by the morons out there who keep drinking the Kubbie Kool-Aid every year, end up disappointed with a sub-.500 record most seasons, and still think that they are somehow superior to White Sox fans who refuse to tolerate losing.

Can you imagine what would happen if the Chicago media--heck, the national media--started telling the truth about the Cubs? Can you imagine if there was ever an honest evaluation of the talent on the Cubs team any given year?

No, we don’t see that. What we do see is a lot of writing and talking with unfounded inflated optimism of the Cubs and a resentment that the White Sox have actually tried to put together a team that is capable of going deep into the playoffs.

Remember the live broadcasts from Wrigley Field just two years ago? Let’s see how much of that we see at The Cell in a month or so. I guarantee there will be excuses for the lack of such coverage.


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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