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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Cataloging the Bias
A mountain of evidence too large to overlook.

by
Jim Laffer
 

White Sox fans have long complained about the media bias in Chicago. The Tribune owns the Lovable Losers and has helped push the team into a position of dominance in the city attendance-wise. Sox fans can remember the long string of slights real and perceived that have helped turn the team into a second class citizen in The Second City. From the reports of bullet holes in the seats when the new ballpark first opened to the continued hammering of the neighborhood around U.S. Cellular Field to the over-hype and over-reported dual on-the-field incidents in the last few years that have helped create the image that Sox fans in general are dangerous and out of control. Nevermind that the two fans who actually attacked the ump and coach were Flubbie fans or at best no fan of either team. They have widely been reported as Sox fans and damned if the truth should be allowed to get in the way of a good story.

 

There is a poster in the Sox Clubhouse (Hangar18 – Henry) who has long been posting about the media bias with regards to the two teams. His thoroughly convincing lists of story counts from the beginning of Spring Training to the end of the season each of the last two years may not be scientific, but they show the mountain the Sox must climb to get back into the race for the hearts and minds of Chicago baseball fans.

 

Now comes the report that someone has died outside of Wrigley Field. Shot down in the street after banging the hood of a car with their toy bat purchased at the ballpark not 100-yards away. The fans stream by – moving from the game to the bars that line the streets. The dirty untold secret about Wrigleyville is that it isn’t a cute and cuddly place to live. Crime stats in a half-mile radius around Wrigley regularly exceed those for the “The Cell” by a wide margin. But, you’d be hard pressed to find coverage of that fact in either major newspaper. Yes, that’s right; people regularly go to and from the train, their cars or even walk to local bars and restaurants around our ballpark without being accosted. Yet 8.1 miles north the drunks make the local neighborhood tough to live in for the locals, vandalizing property, creating disturbances at all hours of the night and, in general, making life miserable. One can only think of that scene last year when the Flubbies were in the playoffs with thousands of fans lining the streets and the media fueling it all with a camera on the roof of a local watering hole. Shocking, I know that when you set up a camera on the roof in a bar district and start broadcasting live to those same bars that people will actually fill the streets. Fortunately nothing bad happened that day, but only because of a large police presence and a blocked off street. One can only think back to those ugly riots during the Bulls championship runs and be thankful that things didn’t get out of control.

 

Baseball and beer, beer and baseball – the two go together like, well… beer and baseball. They just aren’t complete without each other. The great American pastime is made better with those two, three, four or more beers that many fans consume during a game. Plug a ballpark into the middle of a bar district, add lots of hype, fuel the whole thing with media driven expectations and sit back and watch. Hopefully the ugly, sorrowful incident that happened next door to Wrigley was a one-time incident. Hopefully, it isn’t the prelude to a season of bad incidents. Wrigley has started to live up to its reputation as the largest outdoor beer garden and there have been a few ugly trash throwing incidents earlier in the season which delayed the games. Dusty Baker was at the heart of those controversies whining about the umps to the media after the first game and fueling the feeling of Flubbie fans that they were being cheated in their quest to end their near 100-year long slump.  Lovable Losers aren’t so lovable when they are drunk. Indeed there is nothing lovable about a drunk with a hunk of wood smacking somebody’s car, but they still don’t deserve to be shot for it.

 

One can only hope the media won’t gloss this over. The situation needs correcting. Beer, baseball and high expectations can be a good thing or a horrible mess. But, if the media continues to sit on their hands and not report it for what it is – rowdy drunks doing stupid things on a regular basis, one feels it is just the beginning. The time to end the problem is now, but that will require the media to actually take a stand against the present situation. Hopefully they aren’t too busy reporting on “empty blue seats” at Sox Park…


Jim Laffer is a lifelong Chicago sports nut now living in New Bern, North Carolina.   He was raised in Hyde Park and graduated from UIC in December, 2000.  He grew up in a house famous for developing insights into economic phenomenon.  Thus he doesn't believe it when the White Sox start crying poor.

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