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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Better than Last Year?
by Hal Vickery

Odds and ends, bits and pieces….

• You really have to appreciate the team that Kenny Williams has put on the field for the 2006 season. Even with Juan Uribe and Brian Anderson struggling at the plate and Jermaine Dye missing several games due to a nagging injury to his calf muscle, the Sox offense is still dominating.

Couple that with the replacement of Orlando Hernandez by Javier Vazquez in the starting rotation, and the2006 Sox have shown themselves to be equal to, if not better than the 2005 edition.

Last year’s Sox were adept at pulling out nail biters, going 35-19 in one-run games. Think about that! The Sox played in fifty-four one run games, last year, exactly one-third of their entire schedule. This year’s record in one-run games (by my count) is just 4-4. Still, that doesn’t seem to be cause for concern because the Sox offense appears to be so dominant.

Couple that with a starting rotation that is seemingly better than last year’s, and you have a team that should continue to dominate, even with a slightly shakier bullpen and Dye’s injury.

It wasn’t that long ago that when the Sox got behind, you could turn off the game confident that they wouldn’t be able to get back into the game. That’s no longer the case. Last year’s team would struggle and claw their way back. This year’s team can do that too, but they have the added dimension of being able to pound their way back.

Nowadays, I keep the TV on just to see how they’re going to get back into game.

• You have to give Ozzie Guillen credit for sticking with struggling centerfielder Brian Anderson. Of course, maybe it’s not so difficult to keep the struggling Anderson in the lineup considering the way he plays centerfield.

I never saw Joe DiMaggio play, but there are people who did who say that DiMaggio’s defense was unappreciated because he never had to crash into walls or make diving catches. He and the ball always just seemed to have their paths intersect at the right moment.

The same can be said for Anderson. Where Rowand’s nickname was “Crash,” Anderson could be called “The Glider.” He just seems to glide to where the ball is. Anderson won’t make a lot of web gems, but he could be the best defensive centerfielder the Sox have had since Ken Berry.

• We promised that we’d report back here after our first Nancy-less night game, and we’re true to our word. I must say that if the reports were true about the music and sound effects being oppressively loud in April were true, they didn’t appear to be that way Saturday night. No one reported bleeding ears from the loudness of the music.

Still, with apologies to both Brooks Boyer and Nancy Faust, something was missing. You know how much Nancy is missed when the DJ has to resort to playing a tape of Nancy playing “Na-Na-Hey-Hey” when pitchers leave, the Sox win, etc. It does seem kind of silly to have to do that when the person playing on the tape is probably sitting at home watching the game on TV.

In addition, there was nothing going on when the Royals batters came to bad. Gene Honda announced the batter and that was it. No clever musical pun based on the guy’s name or a tune or jingle referencing his number, nothing that we’ve come to expect over the past 37 years.

I know that nothing will probably be done to increase Nancy’s workload this year, although I’d suggest that maybe Brooks could give Nancy a call and ask that she play selected night games, especially during the stretch drive against important rivals.

I also know nothing about Nancy’s contract status after this year. However, if it is a one-year deal, I would also suggest that Brooks ask Nancy if she’d be willing to work maybe forty to fifty games instead of just twenty-seven.

There I go dreaming and hoping beyond hope again….

• Maybe I should institute a running “Find the Goof” contest for this column. Of course, the two of you who read this column on a regular basis would probably just point to the picture at the top of the page and I’d have to declare you the winners.

It must be something that comes with age, though. Last week I discussed the Sox’ record in 1970, Nancy Faust’s first year with the club. I was 99.9% sure of it, checked it out, confirmed it, and then….

Well, let’s just say that my fingers over took my brain and typed something completely different. Yes, I knew the Sox were not 62-100 in 1970. I did know that they racked up a glorious 56-106 record, still the club record thirty- six years later, and which may never be broken by a Sox team in my lifetime. Still, you’d think I would have caught it when I proofread the article, assuming I do proofread them (and that’s a mighty big assumption).

Anyway, both of the regular readers here did point out my glaring error, so thanks to Steve Jaeger and Mike Kennedy for pointing it out.


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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Better Than Last Year?
You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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