Enter Rads, on a mountain bike. Radinsky, who can be called Bill Veeck's posthumous present to the South Side, pedals only to day games now, having decided, after a few scary trips, against negotiating the uncertain terrain of the crime-ridden neighborhoods near Comiskey at night. A surfing buff and 1986 graduate of Simi Valley ( Calif.) High, Radinsky is the former lead singer of Scared Straight, an amp-busting punk band that played dives around the nation before Rads discovered he might make a lot of money "throwin' strikes."
Radinsky doesn't know it, but this spring he joined an elite group of pitchers—the last being Dwight Gooden—to make the majors after spending the entire previous season in A ball. Nor is he aware that at week's end his ERA was 1.88. He has no doubt forgotten that he retired George Brett twice to end consecutive games against the K.C. Royals. There was, of course, that one at bat in Cleveland—a single by five-time All-Star Keith Hernandez—that lingered in Rads's mind all the way to the dugout, where he asked, "Who's the Mexican?"
Says Thigpen, "We were 11-4, 3� games behind Oakland, and Scott says out of the blue, 'What are we in, last place?' He's telling the truth. He doesn't know."
"By the way," says an image-conscious White Sox executive in an unsolicited remark about a recently published rumor that had Radinsky winning a stripping contest at a bar, "that never happened. He couldn't have even been in a bar in Schaumburg last Friday night. He was here, working out."
The other inscrutable resident of Comiskey's notorious centerfield bullpen—"It's a dungeon, either hot and wet or cold and wet," says Thigpen—is middle reliever Barry Jones. As of Sunday, Jones was undefeated and had six wins, one behind league leader Dave Stewart. "Talk about a guy in the right place at the right time," says Jones. "Every time I come in, the guys score. I know they don't like me this much."
Jones, 27, is in his fifth season in the majors, the first three spent with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had amassed 11 lifetime wins through last year, and spent most of '89 on the disabled list, recovering from surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow. "It's very gratifying," he says of his and the team's overhaul as he surveys the walk-in closet the Sox call a clubhouse. "Look around," he says. "Last year there were a lot of sad faces. It's so good now to see a sparkle in the eyes."
Since winning 99 games and the AL West under Tony La Russa in 1983, the Sox have played 74 games below .500. They have had three managers, three general managers and almost as many players as fans in the stands. "The people who have really suffered are the secretaries and office people," said Himes while watching Chicago fall behind 1-0 to the Orioles last Thursday. "They were the ones getting their brains beaten out every day all those years."
The phone rang in Himes's box. It was White Sox owner Eddie Einhorn, calling from out of town. As Himes and Einhorn chatted away the sixth inning, Chicago put runners on first and third for Kittle. "Eddie!" Himes shrieked. "Kittle got a base hit! Johnson scores! Oh no, Kittle's picked off first. No! They threw it away! He's safe! Two-one Sox!"
The Sox's 7-3 win was their sixth straight, the third in a row in which they had come from behind. They swept Baltimore out of Chicago to improve their season record at Comiskey to 15-3, the best home record in baseball, before dropping three games to Detroit over the weekend, betrayed by two members of the mediocre starting pitching staff, Melido Perez and Jack McDowell.
Still, Kittle's two home runs in the Detroit series set off scoreboard explosions and called to mind the roof-shots of his Rookie of the Year season, '83. "This place would rock," he says. "Teams hated to come in and have to hear 'Na-na-hey-hey.' " Kittle will miss the old Comiskey. Among White Sox players, he is in the minority. "I love Comiskey. It's my first big league ballpark," says Guillen. "But it has to go."