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Chicago's Sox Droop On New Home Field

Purple prose tries to convey hues of inauspicious home opener - a letter (in fits and starts) from Chicago

LAUNCHING mammoth Comiskey Park on its maiden cruise with 42,191 fans aboard, the Chicago White Sox were only three innings out of port when they ran into an iceberg named Detroit. By the fourth, with a 16-0 gash in the scoreboard, the club went down as the Titanic had done 79 Aprils earlier in a catastrophe of oceanliner proportions. (Now hold on. That too accurately describes last Thursday's game. If you're going to impersonate a sportswriter and just to cop a pass to the historic home opener, you'd better generate some authentically inappropriate hyperbole.)

LIKE the fossilized footprints left by dinosaurs that once lumbered across the still-cooling surface of an infant planet Earth, cleat marks in the infield of Comiskey II were all that remained of the White Sox after unexpected annihilation by an asteroid postmarked Detroit.

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(You're getting warmer. But a professional sportswriter would overload the metaphor even more. Can't you work in something about saber-toothed tigers? Or at least troglodytes, volcanoes, and La Brea tar pits? No? Well, then, try a fresh angle.)

WITH the Tigers effectively victorious by the fourth inning, White Sox fans turned en masse for consolation to Comiskey Park's concession stands. "I was a teenager when I got in this line," groused a Southsider waiting to buy a chicken fajita. The heavy food sales combined with the wind to take the shine off the ballpark, Chicago's first new athletic arena in 62 years. Drinks tumbled down the concrete grandstands. Popcorn scattered like buckshot in pursuit of nacho-chip skeet. Trash rolled in tumbleweed fashion across the infield.

(True, but trivial. Perhaps what's needed is a perspective with social conscience.)

ADVERTISEMENTS for motor oil, tobacco, and video rentals hover above the outfield of the new Comiskey Park, not quite blocking the sight of south Chicago's criminogenic housing projects, where residents are so conditioned by endemic despair that kids talk about what they want to be if they grow up.

(Back off, bud. You're writing about baseball - BASEBALL - the gold tinting on mental photographs of childhood summers. No use alienating the public. How 'bout going the opposite route and appealing to popular sentiment? Richard Cheney was one VIP in attendance, so use him.)

ELEMENTS of the White Sox last Thursday rolled south from crumbling old Comiskey Park, passed a border signpost labeled 35th Street, and staked a claim to a lavish new playing field last Thursday.

But they occupied the natural-grass ballfield only for a handful of innings before the Detroit Tigers launched a brief but stunningly effective air and ground assault that Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney, who was on hand to witness the rout, might have called Operation Diamond Storm. The Tigers pounded the Sox mercilessly in the mother of all fourth innings, when they added 10 runs to the six scores notched in the third. As if cutoff by a United Nations embargo, the White Sox were runless.

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(Say, what do you suppose your life is worth in this town if you liken the White Sox to the Iraqi Army? Do yourself a favor - give the team a break. Oh, well, scratch another opening paragraph.

(Maybe sportswriters, who contrive lead after original lead, game after game, season after season, aren't just pampered socialites who refuse to be seen in the same outfit twice. Maybe they work hard for those primo seats, plush surroundings, free meals, and statistics delivered on a silver platter. Could it be that sportswriters deserve more respect? Naw.)

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