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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Wanting it all!
by Hal Vickery

As I write this, it is Super Bowl Sunday. (I assume we can use this phrase since we are not advertising anything. Otherwise let’s call it “Big Game” Sunday.) I already know I won’t be one of the 130,000,000 people in this country who will be watching the Pittsburgh Steelers face off against the Seattle Seahawks.

It’s not that I don’t like football. I can remember watching the Bears back in the days when Red Grange was their play-by-play announcer on local television. I remember the three-plus hours of comedy every Sunday with Jack Brickhouse and Irv Kupcinet on radio.

The NFL for me lost a lot of it’s luster as the dreams of Pete Roselle came true and the league achieved pseudo-parity by creative scheduling. Roselle’s plan was simple. Let the lousy teams knock each other off by playing each other and let the good teams knock each other off by playing each other, and everybody ends up with a chance to be 9-9, i.e. everybody has a chance to make the play-offs.

So we now have something called a first-place schedule to prevent repeaters, and we have something called a last-place schedule to allow the bad teams that manage to improve themselves a shot at the playoffs no matter how good they really are.

And you have to admit it has worked in a perverse sort of way. For example, the hapless Bears of 2005 improved their defense to be the best in the league, considering the teams they were playing, while their offense remained horrible. This was still enough to win the NFC North and give them a bye in the playoffs.

In true Chicago form, of course, the Bears went one and out in the playoffs. Too bad they had to play a team that they had already beaten but who figured out how to beat them. So the 2005 Bears became history in the tradition of many Chicago division winners.

I didn’t bet in any “Big Game” pools (far be it from me to associate the NFL trade mark with illegal gambling activity), and I’m just parochial enough a fan to not give a darn about two teams from other cities going head to head indoors in the winter playground that is Detroit. So as it stands, I really don’t care about the Super Bowl. I haven’t really cared about a Super Bowl in twenty years. Winning once does that to you.

And that leads to the White Sox connection to this column. Just as I never will be solely satisfied in football until the Bears find themselves in another Super Bowl, I’m afraid the same thing will happen with the World Series.

The Sox waited a lot longer than the Bears to win it all. I can still remember listening to the NFL Championship game in 1963 on the radio. (It was blacked out on television in Chicago as I recall. Roselle would soon change that.) I don’t remember the last White Sox World Series Championship. You have to go back a couple of generations in my family to find someone who was alive then.

We settled for a few first-round playoff defeats after the Sox lost the Series in 1959, but now all of a sudden, that just won’t do anymore. We’ve had it all, and we want it all again. When the Bears were unable to go back to the Super Bowl as Mike McCaskey slowly destroyed that championship team and Buddy Ryan’s “46” defense was replaced by “bend but don’t break,” I started losing interest in the Super Bowl. When the Bears joined the dregs of the NFL in the ‘90s, I pretty much lost interest in the NFL. That interest has slowly returned. I don’t know. If I were a gambling man, this might not have happened.

Football, though, has always been my second sport. Basketball is no longer even on the radar for me now that the NBA is composed of gatherings of five individuals all out to pad their own statistics rather than play as a team. The NHL was destroyed by expansion and Chicago Hockey was destroyed by Dollar Bill Wirtz.

So I guess baseball is the only sport I truly care about, and maybe that’s why I won’t lose as much interest in the World Series. Criticize Sox ownership and management as much as you want, but Jerry Reinsdorf is nowhere near being in the same league as McCaskey and Wirtz when it comes to lousy ownership. McCaskey won on the hirings of his grandfather. The Blackhawks haven’t won anything since Arthur Wirtz was alive. Reinsdorf now has seven championships under his belt.

Reinsdorf has a general manager in Kenny Williams who wants to win as much as Sox fans do. He has a marketing department led by Brooks Boyer who won’t be satisfied until the Tribune Co. asks in bold headlines, “When did this become a Sox Town?” It’s hard to lose interest with people like that running things.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I can’t let this column go by without mentioning the Windy City Sox Fans. Thanks to you and fans like you, the club had a record net income from their booth. The prizes from the “World Famous Pencil Pull” pretty much ended up being sold out by about noon Sunday.

In addition, thanks to Pete Powers from Grandstand, the club was able to make additional income from auctioning a photo of The Cell from game one of the World Series. The proceeds from SoxFest will become part of our donation to Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities next January. Those funds are earmarked for Children’s Memorial Hospital.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Two weeks ago, we mentioned Jan Bryk, who was scheduled for surgery that week. We haven’t gotten all the details, but she did have the surgery and apparently came out all right. She’s well enough to have sent a couple of emails out to her friends with some attachments that she thought we’d appreciate (and did).

Here’s hoping that Jan has a speedy and complete recovery. We want to see her at The Cell this spring and summer…and especially this fall, say around October.


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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