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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Hope & Vickery
by Hal Vickery

Boy, did I choose the wrong week to make my return here!† Jose Contreras goes down with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Sox drop out of first place and are trailing the Twins, and the Sox acquire Ken Griffey, Jr. from the Reds, and he obliges by hitting a sparkling .200 since joining the club.†

The big news is Contreras.† In his first game back from a stint on the DL, Contreras ruptured his Achilles tendon while attempting to cover first base on an infield grounder.† The injury has benched him for the remainder of the 2008 season.†

It couldnít have come at a worse time for the Sox.† The starting pitching, with the exception of Javier Vazquez, is still pretty much okay, but the bullpen has been spotty.† Although most of the relief corps seems back on track, the performance of Boone Logan has been abysmal enough to earn him a trip back to Charlotte after facing five batters in the seventh inning of Saturdayís game and giving up four runs.†

Logan joins Ehren Wassermann who was sent down after Thursdayís game after giving a less than stellar performance.† †

Meanwhile the Sox have acquired Horacio Ramirez from the Kansas City Royals.† Ramirez, who has worked out of the pen in KC has been a starter for most of his career.† Right now the thought is that the Sox will move him into the starting rotation.†

Itís too early to tell if this is the beginning of the end of any dreams for another World Series appearance for the Sox, but the injury to Contreras has to increase the odds against their making a return this year.† There are seven weeks left in the season, and a lot can happen.† †

Iím not giving up hope yet, but things could be a lot more promising than they are.†

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

I guess I probably should account for my whereabouts over the past couple of months.† It has been a long summer, and not a very good one.†

Around the middle of June I had some surgery from which I am now fully recovered.† It wasnít anything serious, but there was more involved than the doctor initially anticipated.† At any rate, I was laid up for about four weeks where I really didnít feel up to doing very much at the computer.†

About the same time I was going home from the hospital, my older brother went into a nursing home.† Heíd been ill since last summer and had decided not to continue with any additional treatment.† I finally made it down to visit him the weekend I first had permission to drive that distance.† He passed away two days later.†

My brother wasnít much of a sports fan, certainly not to the extent that I am.† He found other ways to pass his time.† He was also a teacher, and every summer he used his vacation time to travel north to fish.† He started taking those trips to Tomahawk, WI and later moved farther north and west to Bimidji, MN.† It was in Bimidji last summer that he first realized he was ill.†

He taught me to fish, something I havenít kept up with.† Itís too bad, too.† We had some great times when I was in college going to Wisconsin in the summer and down to Louisiana in the winter to fish.† I think I got to know him better then than I did while I was growing up.† He was nine years older than I am, and he left for college when I was eight years old.†

After he retired, he became one of those old guys you see hanging out at the local cafť (he lived in a small town) drinking coffee all morning.† But as it turns out, he did more than that.† We found out somehow that he was volunteering at a local veterans hospital, helping move patients from one place to another and whatever else needed to be done.†

We had a memorial Mass for him a couple of weeks ago.† We met his friends and fellow former teachers.† All of them told us what a good person he was and how they would miss him.† I can vouch for that both parts of that.†

He lived just a few miles from our mother, and took it upon himself to do most of the work that needed to be done around her house while I was working.† I took over that job in the summer when he was in Minnesota.† It was a lopsided arrangement, but he didnít mind.† †

He touched a lot of people as a teacher.† Weíve had contact with some of his former students in the past month or two.† None of them has had anything bad to say about him.†

Iíve probably gone on too long about this, but I canít remember any time in my life when my brother wasnít around.† Now that heís gone, I have finally realize just how important he was in our lives.† I guess itís always that way.† You take for granted people who have been around your entire life.† Well, you do that until theyíre gone.†

So Iím just taking one final opportunity to tell Jim that we love him, and weíll miss himÖand weíre sure the fish are always biting where he is.

______________________________________________________________________

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.

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