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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Rocks-on-the-Brain Sox Fan?
by Hal Vickery

There are certain teams that it is impossible for me to root for during the post-season. Certain teams just have a history that makes it impossible for me to have a rooting interest in. This year’s post-season has been difficult for me for that very reason. The entire American League field consisted of teams that for various reasons I can’t stand.

Take a look at the American League playoff field. In the Division Series we had the Angels vs. the Yankees and the Angels vs. the Red Sox. Now there are two series for a White Sox fan to have a rooting interest in!

Maybe younger Sox fans don’t have the animosity that Sox fans my age have for the Yankees, but to members of my generation of Sox fans, the Yankees are still the most hated team in baseball. I go back to the days when Casey Stengel led the Yankees to pennant after pennant.

I missed the 1954 season, but I witnessed firsthand the Yankees Championship runs from 1955-58, and 1960-64. Those were the days when some wag said, “Rooting for the New York Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel.” That, of course, was back in the days when the U.S. had a thriving steel industry and U.S. Steel thrived the most.

The Yankees had the best hitting, the best pitching, and the most money to purchase both. They had guys like Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Moose Skowron, Whitey Ford, Bullet Bob Turley. They blasted the ball like they were playing Home Run Derby while their pitchers threw bee-bees to our batters.

Only once in those years did they stumble, and that was to the ’59 White Sox. And of course that was the year the Yankees were riddled with injuries, the most serious one being to Mantle. No, I couldn’t root for the Yankees, but their loss was still hard to swallow, coming as it did at the hands of the Cleveland Indians.

The Indians have been nearly as pennant starved as the Sox, and they have won fewer World Series. Like the Sox, they’ve gone decades between pennants, the only two occurring within a ten-year period being 1948 and 1954. They haven’t won the World Series since ’48. Still, it’s hard to root for a team whose fans boo Jim Thome who is one of the true class acts in baseball.

It gave me very little satisfaction that the Indians beat the Yankees. It was certainly the lesser of two evils, as the Yankees proved by weasling out of firing Joe Torre by making him an offer he could refuse.

In the other Division Series, you had the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County, California vs. the Boston Red Sox. As far as the Angels are concerned, it’s not just the name that irks me, even if it is the most ridiculous name in baseball since the Hartford Blue Sox of the National League moved from Connecticut to Brooklyn after the 1876 inaugural season (except for a few games) and became known as “Hartford of Brooklyn.”

Until 2005 I had nothing against the Angels. In fact I kind of liked them. Their original owner was movie-TV singing cowboy Gene Autry. He was (and still is) one of my favorite entertainers. What sealed the deal for me was the whining that Mike Scoscia and his players did after what could only be described as a truly heads-up play by A.J. Pierzynski in Game 2 of the 2005 American League Championship Series. As long as Scoscia is manager of that team, I’ll be happy when they lose.

But there was one problem. The Angels lost to the Red Sox, and when you make a list of obnoxious fans, you can’t leave out “Red Sox Nation.” Talk about pompous! These guys actually think anybody outside of New England cares about them or the city which they humbly call “The Hub” (short for “hub of the universe”). All the talk of the “Curse of the Bambino” all those years was more than annoying.

Anyone who follows this column knows what I think about so-called curses and about fans who use them as an excuse to let lousy management off the hook. So it would be impossible for me to cheer on the Red Sox if they advance to the World Series.

You also have to question a club whose players showboat by standing in the batter’s box or maybe take a few steps out while admiring their work. The other night on a hit that bounced off the yellow line at the top of the wall at Fenway, and the player in question, Manny Ramirez did just that. The result was a single on which the runner scored from first.

Did the Red Sox boo Ramirez for his hot dogging? Of course not! They were upset that the umpires didn’t rule the hit a home run. Take the obnoxious fans and add to that the love they get from the so-called cable sports network from Bristol, Connecticut, and you’ll understand why I’ll take a pass on the Red Sox..

It’s not like the opposition the Indians or Red Sox will face during the World Series is all that much better. A year or two ago, it was strongly hinted that in order to play for the Colorado Rockies, the players had to pretty much pass a religious test. The ownership hinted that you had to be a proponent of a certain type of religious belief to be a member of that club.

Since then they’ve backed down a bit and said that they just want fine upstanding players who will be a credit to the club. I have no argument with that. Baseball is a family game, and Jerry Reinsdorf has pretty much sent similar messages in the past about the type of players he prefers to have wear White Sox uniforms.

So I guess by default my team this year in the World Series will be the Rockies. Maybe.

______________________________________________________________________

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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