Monday, August 20, 2018

Does the secret to Chicago sporting success lie in the form of the “sisters?”

Remember back just a few months ago to “Sister Jean?”
In the form of Jean Dolores Schmidt, the nun at Loyola University who made a spectacle of herself as the ultimate Loyola Ramblers basketball fan and who became the lucky charm, of sorts, as the team worked its way all the way to the Final Four of the NCAA championship tournament.

PERHAPS THE CHICAGO White Sox ought to follow the lead of Loyola and create the perception that none other than the Lord himself has a stake in the team’s future development.

Now in all honesty, the success of the White Sox’ efforts to rebuild themselves into a championship caliber ballclub is going to depend on the skills of management in finding the right combination of athletic talent – along with a few lucky breaks to ensure all the “talent” currently with White Sox minor league affiliates pan out the way they’re anticipated to.

The Blues Brothers (remember they were on a “Mission from God”) were on a more legitimate holy crusade than the White Sox, or any sports team, could be.

But Sister Jean and her appearance at courtside all through the Ramblers’ trip created an image that gathered much public attention. Probably to the point where most people thinking back now, and forever more, will have the sister stand out in their mind more than any of the actual players.

COULD THAT BE what happens to Sister Mary Jo?

Good form?
As in Mary Jo Sobieck, who along with her religious duties is an administrator of Marian Catholic High School in suburban Chicago Heights.

She’s the nun who Saturday night gained herself national attention (I’m not kidding, I lost track of the number of local and national television stations that felt compelled to put her moment on the air) for doing the “first pitch” duties for the White Sox prior to their game against the Kansas City Royals.

Because unlike most people who are called upon to perform such a task, she didn’t throw it wildly away and over the catcher’s head, or bounce it in front of home plate. Such as did Joe Mantegna, the actor, who handled the duties the last time I went to a ballgame at Wrigley Field.

Sister Jean provided lead for Ramblers' success
BROADCASTERS OF ALL sorts praised her toss as being a perfect 12/6 curveball – as in a pitch that drops straight down as it crosses home plate so that a batter can’t judge it properly and winds up swinging his bat at the wrong level.

For what it’s worth, the MLB-TV channel went so far as to compare video of Sister Mary Jo’s toss to that of the first actual pitch of the game thrown by Sox pitcher Dylan Covey.

The overwhelming preference? Sister Mary Jean rules! Lots of gags about how the sister, who actually played volleyball and softball back when she was a schoolgirl.

Just as Sister Jean was once athletic (volleyball) in her younger days before taking her religious vows.
The 'high' point of Mantegna's effort

ONE DIFFERENCE – SISTER Jean is on the Loyola payroll, and serves as the Ramblers’ chaplain. Sister Mary Jo has no official connection to the White Sox – other than being invited for one night’s duties.

Although maybe it would be a nice touch if she were to become a part of “White Sox Nation” – that segment of Chicago’s sporting world that has absolutely no interest whatsoever in the Chicago Cubs.
Can sister add to Sox' collection

Maybe we need that “touch of faith” to think that the White Sox rebuilding program will succeed – rather than produce a string of ballclubs that will consider themselves completely successful if they can avoid losing 100 ballgames (the Sox need 18 more wins this year to avoid that niche).

Then again, no matter how much it may sound ridiculous, perhaps it will require a “hand of God” as the final piece in the White Sox puzzle to become a ballclub amounting to something worthwhile -- although the arrival of top-level pitching prospect Michael Kopech come Tuesday could be the momentum-changing move.


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