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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Playoff Preparation!
by Hal Vickery

Some thoughts as the Sox prepare for the ALDS:

• Leave it to the White Sox to clinch on a day when I had to stay a little late for work! As a result I not only didn’t get to hear any of their division clinching game Thursday against Josie and the Pussycats, but by the time I was finished, the post-game show was already finished. The first thing I heard was the tail end of Mac, Jurko, and Harry interviewing Kenny Williams.

Since then, I’ve heard a number of descriptions of the Sox’ post-game celebration, and I’ve liked what I’ve heard. The general tone of these descriptions is that they were not as raucous as we might expect, that the players behaved like the division championship wasn’t an end unto itself.

This is good news. It sounds as if these guys are prepared for the long haul and will only be satisfied with eleven more wins before their season ends.

• I guess I was just unlucky this week in my radio listening. I also managed to miss the stir created by WMVP’s Bruce Levine when he described the White Sox lineup against the Indians Friday night as the “scrubs.”

Apparently several of those “scrubs” caught wind of his making that off-the-cuff comment and took umbrage. The result was Levine apologizing to the subs. •

Levine wasn’t the only media type eating crow after Friday night’s game. After Ozzie Guillen announced the substitute lineup Friday, mediots in Chicago and along the eastern seaboard criticized him for using only two regulars in his lineup when New York and Boston were still fighting it out for the AL East championship or the possible consolation prize of a Wild Card.

The wise ones of sportstalk radio and television started spouting off about the “integrity of the game,” and assorted rubbish. Those complaints were put to rest when the Sox subs beat the Indians in extra innings.

Any charges that this was a fluke were put to rest Saturday when a lineup of over half subs again beat the ‘Toons with the Sox completing the sweep Sunday afternoon.

• One could only wonder what J. “Heiniebird” Moronotti’s fallback position would be when the Sox failed to choke in Detroit and Cleveland. His immediate response was to ignore all the columns about the choke from the last couple of weeks, but to set himself up (as usual) to be right no matter what the Sox do in the post-season. Oh, and throw in a dig or two at The Chairman for lagniappe.

According to “Heiniebird,” the Sox’ everyday lineup lacks pop, the team lack post-season experience, and their pitching staff is overworked. But at least the Bird gives us a positive, or perhaps it’s just a false positive. “The good news is, at least we’re having these debates.”

So in Heiniebird’s world, nothing was said about choking. We just move on to the next reason the Sox won’t succeed, and a Moronotti ultimatum, “But this time, hope has to have a seat and stay awhile.”

Whatever you say, Heinie.

• I don’t know whether to thank Fox Sports or curse them. We were debating early this week whether or not to drive to Cleveland Friday night to catch the final two games of the season when Fox made the decision for us.

These aging bones aren’t able to manage a drive to Ohio that would probably end sometime after midnight in the Eastern time zone and then do a quick turnaround for a 1:25 p.m. start. The fact that I was in the midst of fighting back spasms that had started last Saturday made the decision for us.

The cheapest tickets available on the web (the game was a sellout) were in the $30.00 range while the most expensive seats were going for just under $200.00. It really would have been worth the price to see our “scrubs” take it to the Indians.

• Message to all the mediots, including Heiniebird (I must remember to email Hawk to thank him for that nickname for the esteemed Mr. Moronotti) and the headline writer for the Cubune: The Sox did not choke. The Sox played .600 ball in September. That’s not choking.

Cleveland played better than .700 ball in August and September. Think of it this way, if it is possible for you to think. The Sox started out driving 70 miles per hour while the Indians started out driving at about 50 mph. Then about halfway through the trip the Sox slowed down to about 55 while the Indians accelerated to over 70.

The Sox didn’t stall. The Indians just played the same way against the weak teams they played in the second half that the Sox did against those same teams in the first half. That is not a choke.

• Tying up a loose end: A couple of months ago I wrote here about a phone interview I had with Jeff Ruby, a writer for Chicago Magazine about Sox GM Kenny Williams. In it I took a pre-emptive strike and described the entirety of the interview which was to appear in the October issue.

I heard from Jeff Ruby this week. The article is out, and I promised him a few comments this week, assuming I got out to purchase the magazine. Unfortunately real life intervened, and I haven’t had the chance to do so yet.

I did hear a comment about it last Sunday at the game, and it was positive, but that’s all I can say at this time. I promise I will get out and buy the magazine this week and let you know about it next week.

• Finally, it was good to see the wall-to-wall coverage on the Sox division championship on all the local stations. It was gratifying to see the Sox get the lead story on all the local channels just as the Cubs did in 2003, thereby putting the lie to complaints that the media in this town favor the Cubs to the detriment of the White Sox.

What? You say that didn’t happen? I’m sorry. I guess I was just dreaming.


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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Playoff Preparation?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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