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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Mid-Season Form: Sox radio style
by Hal Vickery

Okay, I know Iíve been waxing poetic about the start of spring training and how baseball season has begun. However, I really must admit that I only caught an inning or so of the first exhibition game of the season this week. Thatís it.

So why do I always start waxing poetic about the start of baseball, when I really donít start paying attention to whatís going on until about mid-March? The answer is simple, I guess. I know baseball is back and that I can check anytime to find out how things are going as the start of the season approaches.

First and second outings are for the most part meaningless except perhaps to the players. Pitchers only go a maximum of three innings. Position players maybe go five. During this part of the year, the pitchers are loosening the kinks out of their arms and the batters are getting in their first licks against what can best be described as semi-real pitching.

The managers and coaches are evaluating talent, primarily to see who might fit in in the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth spots in the lineup. The writers are writing about players who had down seasons hoping to come back, on the progress of injured players, and on the hopes of newcomers and rookies.

So Iíll peruse what the writers are saying, taking most of that with a grain of salt, listen to what Ozzie, Coop and Greg Walker have to say, and maybe catch an inning or two of a game on the radio as I drive home. Around March 20, Iíll start to pay a lot closer attention. As the opening day approaches, Iíll start to get psyched up for the real games. Iíll fret about the curve balls that never curve in Arizona, Iíll worry about the regulars who seem to be slumping, and Iíll pay closer attention to the progress of each player.

Still, itís great to have just the idea of baseball around and to know that in just four weeks the games will be for real. By that time I may even be optimistic about the Soxí chances this year.

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

One of the reasons I donít listen to more than an inning or two of the Soxí radio broadcasts is quite simple. I just canít take it. I happened to turn on Wednesday afternoonís game when Chris Singleton was trying to do play-by-play. He was already in mid-season form. Unfortunately thatís not a good thing. Mid-season form for Singleton is the same as game one of spring training, as it has been since he began his tenure in the booth in 2006.

Itís important to note here that I like Chris Singleton. He seems to be a great guy. He has emceed a couple of Windy City Sox Fans luncheons, of which I was able to attend one. It was in June 2006, only a couple of months after he had started in the booth. He was terrific. Iíve seen him at seminars during SoxFest. Again, he was terrific.

So why doesnít that translate into his broadcasting?

There is only one answer: Ed Farmer. Farmer should be a mentor to Singleton just as Harry Caray was to Steve Stone. Unfortunately in all his years in the booth with John Rooney, Farmer didnít learn anything about broadcasting.

His monotone delivery and his constant rambling to the exclusion of doing what he is paid to do, play-by-play, are just what Singleton hasnít needed for two years. The Sox had one of the best play-by-play announcers in baseball in John Rooney. Rooney seemed to be the one to keep Farmers ramblings from getting out of hand when Farmer was in the seat now occupied by Singleton.

Farmer hasnít changed a bit in stepping into the play-by-play role. The problem is that there is nobody to keep him on track. He should be showing Singleton the ropes, if only by example. Singleton seems (at least from the times Iíve seen him interview players) to have the right instincts to be a good broadcaster. The problem is less with him than it is with the guy in the driverís seat.

There was a time when Sox fans would turn down the volume of their televisions in order to listen to the radio broadcasts because they felt the radio team was so much better than the television team of Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson, another ex-player who sounds better away from his play-by-play partner. Now Sox fans driving in their cars during games wish they could listen to the TV audio while driving.

Something needs to be done in the radio booth. My greatest fear is that Singleton will be the fall guy and Farmer will remain doing play-by-play. Nobody will sound good with Farmer in the play-by-play chair.

______________________________________________________________________

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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