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Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Commentary: Cheney, some ChiSox share hobby

February 15, 2006

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— Now you know why Ozzie Guillen was reluctant to go to the White House with the White Sox.

He was afraid Dick Cheney might be there and accidentally shoot him.

A baseball manager can handle being fired, but he sure hates being fired upon.

Knowing there was a chance that the vice president might show up for Monday's ceremony with President Bush honoring the team, a lot of the White Sox must have given serious thought to coming to the White House dressed in something bright orange. You know, so Cheney could see them better and not open fire.

"Orange alert" in Washington no longer indicates a threat of terrorism.

It means, "Look out, here comes Cheney with his shotgun!"

Hunting is a subject I don't write about much. I rarely mention a shotgun unless it involves a formation involving a quarterback.

But maybe I should, seeing as how Cheney's hunting accident during the weekend reminds me that our World Series champions have a number of avid hunters on their team. Very expensive new acquisition Jim Thome, for one. And very valuable pitcher Mark Buehrle, for another.

It was a White Sox pitcher, you might remember, who once blew off his own leg when he went out to kill rabbits.

Monty Stratton was 26 and in his prime on Nov. 27, 1938, when he tripped in the woods and blasted shotgun pellets into his right leg, which had to be amputated the next day.

I don't know what kind of insurance clauses the Sox have inserted into the contracts of players like Thome and Buehrle, but let's pray that all of them are a lot more careful squeezing the trigger than Dick "In the Line of Fire" Cheney was.

America's Veep-in-a-Jeep was part of a hunting party Saturday on a 50,000-acre Texas ranch. He was out stalking quail, and by that I don't mean the other President Bush's vice president.

A 78-year-old Austin attorney named Harry Whittington had just said bye-bye to a birdie when ka-boom, Deadeye Dick's .28-gauge shotgun went off. Poor old Harry "got peppered pretty good" one of the ranch's owners said.

I'm sure a quail celebrated and called to his friends, "We got one of theirs! We got one of theirs!"

Baseball's relationship with hunting always has been fraught with danger. A rookie shortstop for the Colorado Rockies was seriously injured last season after falling down some stairs while carrying a teammate's heavy package of deer meat. I hate to see a ballplayer suffer from substance abuse, especially if the substance is venison.

It did make me wince when the first thing Buehrle said after the White Sox traded for Thome to replace Frank Thomas as the team's designated hitter was that he couldn't wait to take his new teammate out hunting. Mark, be careful. The team just got rid of one "Big Hurt." It doesn't need another.

At a ceremony welcoming the Boston Red Sox to the White House last spring, one of the first things George W. Bush said - I have a verbatim transcript in front of me - was this: "I'm so proud to be joined by the vice president today. He's a Chicago Cubs fan. So, like, he knows what you've been through."

This was my first indication that Dick Cheney and Hillary Clinton had anything in common. I never knew the vice president felt any connection to the Cubs.

It is appropriate that Cheney supports the Cubs, because, as you know, the motto of every Cubs fan is: "Just shoot me."

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