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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Could it Happen Anywhere?
by Hal Vickery

We’re turning this week’s column over to Harlin Neal, a WSI message board veteran.  Neal also happens to work in the media, at WMBI (1110 AM), the radio outlet of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  

Neal is an unabashed Sox fan who has spent much of his time on the WSI message boards discussing the bias of this town’s media towards one team in particular. 

Last week, after the tragic incident that occurred in the shadows of Wrigley Field, the Tribune’s Rick Morrissey wrote a column in which he stated the Tribune Co.’s official position on the incident, that it could have happened anywhere. 

In response, Mr. Neal wrote Morrissey a letter which also appeared on the WSI message boards.  We think that his response is so representative of the feelings of Sox fans on the bias expressed by the media in favor of one club and its neighborhood over the other, that it bore reprinting.  However, unfortunately, his letter was published after last week’s column was put to bed. 

So for the rest of this week’s column, Mr. Neal has the floor.   

Mr. Morrissey,

I'm writing you in regards to your May 9th article in the Tribune entitled, "Wrigleyville a neighborhood, not theme park." In that piece, you say that if people are shocked to learn about just how rowdy it can get near Clark and Addison, they "were kidding themselves" and were not "paying attention" to what was really going on. For once, I would like to say that as a reporter, I'm glad the Chicago Tribune is starting to finally tell the truth about an area your newspaper has been trumping as almost "utopia" as it relates to the overall "Cubs/Wrigley Field experience". It's just a shame that it took someone getting shot outside the "shrine" to get people to realize that.

I know that this shooting, as it's being reported, had NOTHING to do with the Cubs, Wrigley Field, or the neighborhood in general. This wasn't a "Cubs fan vs. Sox fan" incident blown way out of proportion. This appears to be nothing more than a random act of violence that just happened outside of Wrigley Field. However, there is something you MUST understand about this incident, and how White Sox fans are reacting to it.

First of all, let's understand that no matter what colors a person wears, there's nothing that can replace a human life. Acts of violence like this can and too often do happen anywhere in Chicago...let alone at Clark and Addison. But, many Sox fans whom I've either talked to or interacted with say this incident has forced the Tribune Company, the people who sign your paychecks, to make a decision...to either report the story as it happened, or try to mask/minimize it in some way as to not have the Company's bread and butter, Wrigley Field, look bad. Unfortunately, when the Company that owns Wrigley decided to publish this story near the bottom of the Metro section with a small headline, I'm afraid it looks like the Tribune Company seemed more interested in protecting the reputation of its biggest investment instead of reporting a story like it should've been covered.

We all know about the incidents that have happened at U.S. Cellular Field in recent years. We all know about fans running the field, and attacking visiting coaches and fans. That, along with the lack of attendance and outside-the-ballpark amenities, have unfairly made the home of the White Sox more of a place to avoid rather than a place to attend. The lack of action by Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf to combat the bad reputation his ballpark had been getting, as well as other Reinsdorf gaffs, have also added to this reputation. But, I'm sorry to say, another reason why the Cell hasn't been drawing as many people as Wrigley Field is because of the perception your newspaper has significantly contributed to. And only now, when blood is spilled outside the "Friendly Confines", whether if it's Cub-related or not, is the Tribune starting to finally give some good press to the White Sox with a Bob Verdi column praising the renovations of U.S. Cellular Field. Question...where was all this praise for the south-side ballpark after your paper's architecture critic "blasted" it for it's lack of intimacy and other vices that "beautiful Wrigley Field" seems to ooze? Where was all the criticism about "beautiful Wrigley Field" when a fan snatched an L.A. Dodgers player's cap, and started a brawl seen on national television? Where was all the psycho-babble about the fans attending "beautiful Wrigley Field" when Randy Myers was approched by a fan years ago? And why did it take someone being shot in front of the "shrine" before people at your paper finally started to talk about the admitted bias there is towards the Cubs in the press. It's one thing to say "the Cubs are more popular than the Sox", but now people are realizing part of the reason why is because your company, especially your paper, helped make it that way.

Reporters and such often say Sox fans should ignore what's happening with the Cubs and concentrate on following their own team. While that logic does make sense at first, there's one thing to ponder...how can you ignore what's going on with the Cubs?!?!?!?!? They're a national phenomenon right now. Your paper, TV stations, and radio station devote much of, if not MOST of, print and air time to just about anything Cub-related. Even if the Cubs were to lose a game while the White Sox win one, most of the coverage in the Trib's Sports section is dedicated to the "lovable losers"...the team your company owns. And even worse, your competition, the Sun-Times, is doing the same thing. And you wonder why Sox fans have been complaining for so long about unfair perceptions and coverage?

In closing, please understand that many Sox fans are sick and tired of the perception of "Cubs good...Sox bad" going out over the airwaves on a local, national, and international level. For more than 2 decades, the Chicago Tribune, the Tribune Company, and other vested interests were touting the virtues to going to "beautiful Wrigley Field", and making a mockery of anyone who dared question such reasoning. Although there is no question of the thousands of people flocking to Wrigley Field and the surrounding neighborhood day after day, now there has to be the question as to what really goes on there. And I'll say again...it's a shame it took a shooting in front of the "shrine" in order to make that happen. If protecting corporate interests is more important to the Tribune Company that telling a story like it actually happens, then the company ought to at least have the decency to get out of the journalism business. There's nothing wrong with making money, but building a reputation in Chicago based on lies, wrong perceptions, and such...and now trying to "make amends" and appear objective is nothing short of a travesty. The Tribune Company's "monster" known as the Chicago Cubs didn't get this popular overnight...and now, the attempts to rid people's minds of the perception that all things are good ar Wrigleyville won't go away so fast either.

You say in your article "rowdiness" has always been a part of Wrigleyville. Wow!!!!!!! That's a revelation...based on what your paper, your parent company, and tons of hypesters from all over the world have said, you would've never known that. Now, the Hernandez family, as well as people all over Chicago, shockingly know better.

And you wonder why Sox fans have been so "bitter" and "jealous" o
ver the years.

Harlin Neal

 


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.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

Have a Thought about
Could it happen anywhere?

You Can Put it on the Board -- Yes!



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