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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Rumors & Rumor mongering
by Hal Vickery

There is a sportswriter in Chicago who is best known around these parts as Tailgunner Joe. Between him and a certain sportsblab station in town, rumors have been fueled concerning the impending, or not so impending signing of Mark Buehrle for $56 million over four years.

At one point we were told the deal was certain. Then came the hitches. Then came the final disaster. Buehrle and Kenny Williams were at loggerheads because Buerhle, even though he was taking a home team discount wanted a no-trade clause in his contract.

Now the deal is off and Tailgunner Joe is taking potshots. In Sunday’s newspaper, he referred to Sox Vice-President for Communications, Scott Reifert as a “vice president of misinformation,” describing his rise from public relations to “chairman’s cabana boy” to “blogger/media critic.” He warned that Reifert (without naming him) “should not discount what is or isn’t a story” in regards to the Buehrle negotiations.

This comes from a man who cited sources who were not part of the White Sox but who were “close to the situation.” Who might that be? Buehrle’s agent? His wife? His parents? His insurance salesman? Of course we don’t know who this anonymous source is. After all, he or she is an anonymous source, but at least we have Tailgunner Joe’s word that he is “close to the situation.”

And what exactly did Reifert do to engage the wrath of Joe? Why, he wrote the following in his blog at the Sox web site last Wednesday: “Was spent fielding calls from media asking if late morning reports by a local radio station were true. As I explained time and time again during the day, we have not announced anything and any reports at this time are purely speculation based on rumors. You shouldn't read anything into them, one way or the other at this point.”

I don’t know. It sounds to me like a pretty logical thing for a representative of the Sox to say. After all, when have we ever known sportswriters to spread trade rumors, signing rumors, etc. that ultimately turned out to be false?

The gunner didn’t just attack the Sox. Oh, no! He also managed to make disparaging remarks about the fans who actually might have something to say about the rumors in the comments portion of Reifert’s blog site.

He likened them as being “somewhere between the grown man who stands outside in the rain waiting to have five items autographed by another grown man, and Trekkies.” Apparently he thinks that those who comment on the blog are actually closer to Trekkies.

I decided after that to peruse some of the comments on Reifert’s blog. I invite you to find exactly what the gunner is talking about by clicking one of these links: or

Maybe you can figure out what he’s talking about.

If you can’t then maybe he’s not referring to the comments section of Reifert’s blog but to something else. There were definitely some over-the-top comments here at the WSI message boards, and I’m sure other Sox-related message boards had much the same thing.

But you have to remember who wrote the story. It was Tailgunner Joe, after all. And Joe really loves flaunting his superior knowledge to his inferiors.

And people wonder why real sports fans think that the Chicago sports media is a cesspool.


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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