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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Obstructed View Bias
by Hal Vickery

This was a week in which much of the media showed incredible bias regarding the White Sox.  Oddly enough, not all of that bias was anti-White Sox.  On the other hand, some of it seemed to be biased in the direction of The Chairman that all credulity was strained.

Since pro-Sox bias is so rare these days, we’ll take that on first.  On a somewhat minor note, several media types who toured The Cell to view the latest renovations had mostly positive comments about what they saw.  Of course a few had to get in digs about how the Sox got it wrong in the first place, but that was to be expected.   

What was beyond belief was a call to WSCR radio Friday.  A caller who identified himself as “Mark” called the mid-day show hosted by Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers.  Disclosure:  “Mark” has contributed items to this column in the past, but we had no advance warning that he was calling this particular show. 

As is his usual practice, “Mark” expressed criticism of Sox ownership.  Bernstein asked him, “If you hate Reinsdorf so much, then why are you still a Sox fan?”  It is amazing that such a question could be asked.  Since when is loving the owner a pre-requisite for being a fan of the team that is put on the field?  And Bernstein likes to think of himself as something of an intellectual.   

The high point of the conversation came when Bernstein suggested, as others have, that if attendance doesn’t pick up, the Sox just might move.  “Mark’s” answer showed what a truly asinine question this was.  His response was simple.  “Just where are they going to move?”   

That is exactly the point.  Chicago is the third largest market in the country.  Any move they make would be to a smaller market.  Of course, it might be very difficult for them to move since when they sold the naming rights to their stadium, they also signed a fifteen year lease extension with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority.   

Move?  You’ve got to be kidding, Dan!  If they moved, there would be an immediate lawsuit.  Congress would look into baseball’s anti-trust exemption.  All hell would break loose.  It’s not going to happen, at least not as long as the Sox have a stadium lease and a $60-million contract with U.S. Cellular. 

Of course Bernstein’s comments defending The Chairman were understandable.  After all, he was going to appear on Mike North’s program later that afternoon.  In case you haven’t been around lately, there has been a detente of late between the Sox and The Score in the past few weeks.  Kenny Williams has made appearances on the station, and now Jerry Reinsdorf.  Both have fielded softball questions the program hosts have lobbed in their direction in recent days. 

This is the result of friction between the Sox and their current radio flagship, WMVP.  Management there has let the public in on their discontent with the contract they have to carry Sox and Bulls broadcasts.  The station’s previous management, before Disney bought the station, wanted the “prestige” of Michael Jordan’s Bulls so much, that they were willing to lose money to get them.  And according to current management, that’s exactly what has happened. 

Disney fired the first shot, and now The Chairman has fired back, cozying up to the stations biggest rival in town.  Boers and Bernstein’s program has been in the thick of the war, spending a few days in Tucson during spring training, and interviewing Sox players and management.  Is it any wonder Bernstein is defending The Chairman when callers suggest that he hasn’t acted in the best interest of the fans? 

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The Sox didn’t help their cause with the media by blowing a 7-3 lead to the Royals on opening day.  If you listened to any of the radio or TV “experts,” the collapse was evidence of the weakness of the Sox bullpen and Ozzie Guillen’s incompetence as a manager.  It was impossible to count how many times we were warned that this was going to be a long season.  Little attention seemed to be paid to the fact that Kansas City is favored by some to win the division, and by most to at least contend again this year. 

On the other hand, there seemed to be no panic when the Cubs went out started the season 1-2 versus the lowly Cincinnati Reds.  You may remember Cincinnati from last year.  They were the team that traded away most of their major-league quality talent and replaced them with what was essentially a AAA or lower roster. 

To show the absolute idiocy of this Cubs hype, one columnist praised a performance by Greg Maddux in which he walked a couple of batters, hit a couple more, and lost.  Listen to some of the media talk about a similar performance Friday by Jon Garland, and they are amazed that he won the game with such lousy control. 

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And finally there was “Photogate”.  While most of the media praised the changes the Sox have made to The Cell, the Chicago Cubune got in their not-so-subtle dig at the fact the Sox now have a handful of obstructed view seats in the renovated upper deck.  In a spread that included four photographs of the renovations, two of them were taken from behind posts. 

It’s as if the Tribune Co. thinks Chicagoans are stupid enough to think there are no posts in the upper deck at the Ivy Covered Burial Ground, not to mention in the lower deck (where there are none at The Cell). 

Cubune writers and editors have protested for years that there is no editorial bias against the Sox in their birdcage liner.  Here is a challenge to them:  Explain why those pictures appeared in your paper if there is no bias.  Explain why we don’t see pictures of the hundreds of obstructed view seats in both decks of the Burial Ground. 

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To any Sox fans with a camera who for some reason might find themselves at a Cubs game:  We’d love your pictures of the obstructed view seats at the Burial Ground, especially if there are fans sitting in those seats trying to watch a baseball game.  We’d love to publish them here.  Just click the email link below and send them to us. 


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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