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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

A Warm Championship Glow!
by Hal Vickery

Spring is here! Okay, I know itís been here for nearly two weeks, but for me spring hasnít really arrived until meaningful baseball games are played. And that day is today! (At least as I write this at 8:23 a.m. on April 2, itís today.)

Very little could dampen my enthusiasm for the start of a new baseball season, but Commissioner Budlight has given it his best shot. It seems the good Commissioner picked up a copy of The Shadow Game at his local bookstore and was shocked to find that several players, including Barry Bonds might have taken steroids during his reign.

Only recently we found out that Budlight hadnít even heard of steroids until just a few years ago, despite the fact that his predecessor Fay Vincent had issued a memo to all clubs on the use of illegal drugs, including steroids, back in 1991.

At any rate, the book so shocked Budlight, that he immediately put former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell in charge of a commission to investigate this shocking revelation. Mitchellís credentials are impeccable. The former senator is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Walt Disney Co.

Mitchell is the perfect person to head an investigation of Bonds because the Disney-owned cable network ESPN is currently producing a reality series starring Bonds. Mitchell, who is also a director of the Boston Red Sox, definitely has an interest in exposing anything his commission finds out about Bonds or any other players who might have used steroids.

Doesnít it make you feel ever so much better knowing that baseball has put this investigation into the hands of someone who doesnít even have the appearance of perhaps having a conflict of interest?

Or wouldnít it be deliciously ironic if Mitchell takes his duties seriously and roots out the entire steroid mess and exposes the stench for all to see?

Still, that does little to damper my utter joy at the thought of another opening day finally arriving. After all, before tonightís game, for the first time in the memory of most people alive today, the Sox will be raising the flag that declares them to be World Series Champions.

No matter what happens in 2006 and beyond, Sox fans will always have the memory of 2005 to cherish. It has been over five months since the final out of the World Series, and sometimes I still have to pinch myself to make sure that this isnít all a dream. Even seeing the trophy at SoxFest back in January seems like a dream. But it is real, and the Sox did win it all.

Nothing can take that away from us. Even the most idiotic of Cubs fans, who scream at us that the Sox were lucky or that the Sox somehow cheated their way through the playoffs, or worse yet, that they almost had the greatest collapse during the stretch run of any team ever, even the í69 Cubs, canít take that warm glow away from us.

Even the Tribune Co. with its radio commercials telling about how the Cubs are planning to make this ďthe greatest baseball season in Chicago historyĒ canít detract from the fact that the Sox won it all, and better still, they won it all before the Cubs did. Sorry, Tribune Co., but the greatest season in Chicago baseball history has already happened. The Sox won 99 games during the regular season and then went on to go 11-1 in the postseason to win it all.

Cubs fans and the Tribune Co. may try to minimize that fact. They may even play up the Dan Ryan construction project to discourage Sox fans from attempting to go to The Cell, but really there is nothing they can do to diminish what the Sox have accomplished. The Sox won it all. Period. End of story.

Now itís a new season, and for all practical purposes the 2005 Sox are gone. Several players wonít be back including some heroes from the playoffs and World Series. The 2006 Sox have to go through it all again, and itís possible that they might not repeat the success of the 2005 club.

But isnít that part of what makes baseball great? Every year is a new year. Every year brings a new opportunity to either defend what youíve already done or bring down the champions and earn your own glory.

Itís a long journey to the playoffs. The 2005 Sox saw just how long that could be when they lost twelve games of a 13.5 game lead before the Indians finally crashed back to earth playing the Devil Rays.

Yogi Berra is known for saying ďIt ainít over until itís over.Ē He also might have said, ďIt hasnít started until it starts.Ē

And the 2006 season, with whatever ups and down it may bring, is just about to start.

Bring it on!

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

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