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Wings & Rings

The modern term, I suppose, is Man Cave, although I'm not as consumed with naming it as I am with using it.

Originally the space was our business office when we operated one. Now the basement in our home serves a number of functions: a location for computers, files, laundry, storage, coolness from the summer heat, and, not incidentally, a lovely, comfortable couch in front of the largest flat screen that fits.

And it's only half subterranean. Windows filter in unneeded sunlight, giving us a weather report any time we gaze outdoors.

If I ever intimated that this was my place - my private place - to observe the White Sox, my wife, dearest Judith, would simply indicate the part of my anatomy in most imminent danger. No, this is a combined affair, watching and waiting to see if our White Sox can outlast the Tigers in this most surprising of seasons.

I was out most of Saturday, attending a fundraiser to send kids to summer camp. I never miss the event, and Judy was there as well although we traveled separately. She returned home before I did and apparently listened to the end of the Sox's 5-3 victory over Minnesota on the radio on the way home.

I had recorded the game to watch once I got back to the Man Cave and, other than knowing that the Sox had an early 3-0 lead, I was clueless about the final outcome.

Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. I'm watching this as though it is live, and Judy descends to the Man Cave, gazes at the screen, and says, "Oh, geez."

What am I supposed to think? I speed ahead, blinking as Addison Reed loads the bases on a hit sandwiched by two walks. Meanwhile, she's upstairs reading The Art of Fielding while I'm left to my own devices, fearing the worst.

Of course, all of us now know that Matt Thornton, he of the two season saves in six attempts, induced Justin Morneau to ground into a double play before Trevor Plouffe conveniently grounded to Gordon Beckham to end the game.

This required an explanation. "You scared me," I said. "I meant to," she responded. Must have been payback for something which eludes me at this particular time.

So yesterday I decided to mix up things a bit. Change of scenery. Something new.
I drove over to Bridgeport, found the door to Schaller's locked so I went north a few blocks to Buffalo Wings & Rings

The back bar features five TVs, the largest in the middle, and that's where I found the Sox game. There were nine of us at the bar, and only the couple to my right was more interested in the NFL games than the Sox and Twins.

Sitting to my left was Keith, who confessed to being a Cub fan who lives in Bridgeport.

"Well, I'm a Sox fan who lives about a mile-and-a-half from Wrigley Field," I said.

"Maybe we should switch houses," he replied.

"There's one thing I can't understand about Sox fans," Keith said, and I sensed what was coming. "How can they hate the Cubs so much? I know my team sucks, but that doesn't mean I hate the Sox."

We talked a bit about Theo's grand plan, which I find interesting if not compelling. We both agreed that the North Siders made a good move in signing Starlin Castro to a long-term contract, though I contend that the kid hasn't improved much as a shortstop.

The conversation was low-key and cordial as Adam Dunn and then Dayan Viciedo smacked long home runs in the Sox's six-run sixth inning, more or less salting the game away. Three guys sitting down the bar cheered loudly on both occasions, making me think that Buffalo Wings & Rings - not to be confused with Buffalo Wild Wings - was one dandy establishment.

However, Keith turned acerbic and slightly agitated when he spat, "I hate Hawk Harrelson."

The emotion had something to do with what he interpreted as a slight toward Ron Santo when Santo was elected to the Hall of Fame. Keith claimed that Hawk lauded Barry Larkin for gaining entrance to the Hall while giving Santo's accomplishment lip service. If that occurred, I can see why a Cub fan would be pissed.

Aside from Jake Peavy's six strong innings, shutout ball from three relievers, and timely hitting, the other highlight was the guy sitting to Keith's left ordering 50 wings.

I assumed that either he was expecting people to join him or he would take the wings to go and meet his buddies at home, no doubt in his own Man Cave to watch the rest of the game.

I was mistaken on all counts. He attacked the wings with a vengeance, although he slowed down around No. 30 before taking the remaining 20 home.

"I'll eat for a week," he told me.

Yeah, sure. No way those wings survived dinner.

Heading for home, I listened to Farmio and D.J. ham it up while Donnie Veal and Phil Humber - remember him? - closed out the Twins for the Sox's 14th win in 18 games against Minnesota this season. The piranhas? Remember them?

Having the Woman Cave all to herself for the afternoon, Judy announced, "When the Sox play well, they're amazing. When they don't, they stink. There's nothing in between."

Not an inaccurate assessment, although a number of teams qualify.

One of those, the Tigers, will be at the Cell this afternoon for the makeup game from last Thursday's rainout. The Sox dodged Justin Verlander, who was slated to pitch last week. That's fortunate.

The Sox come in riding the three-game sweep of the Twins while Detroit closer Jose Valverde blew the game Sunday against Cleveland. That also is good.
It's supposed to be a gorgeous late summer day, and the Sox can truly make the Tigers squirm if they can pull off a victory. So no Man Cave for me, no Buffalo Wings & Rings. I want to see this one live.

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Roger Wallenstein is our man on the White Sox beat. He welcomes your comments.

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