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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

CRAZY for the Sox!

by George Bova

There is always a certain craziness to being a Sox Fan actively supporting the Chicago White Sox. This is the one team in all of professional sports to spend over 80 years recovering from a gambling conviction. It's the one team in all of professional sports to have a fight song written by a polka band. It's the one team to have Andy the Clown juggling balls in the seats and Dick Allen juggling them in the dugout.

Who can blame us for being a bit crazy?

Whenever it's time to talk about how to build the Sox into contenders, you can be sure the level of craziness is going to reach epic proportions. This winter has brought out dizzy new heights in the level of Sox Fan craziness. This is where the rational side of Sox Fandom butts heads with the irrational craziness that makes us Sox Fans in the first place.

The Sox front office is busy trying to build a team to win a championship, or at least improve upon the mediocre 83 wins last season's team stumbled to. How to accomplish this? Is it even possible to accomplish this? After 87 years of futility, there are serious doubts.

Starting with the premise that Major League Baseball is geared towards helping big market teams at direct expense to small market teams, the Chicago White Sox would appear to have a built-in advantage to win championships. Besides ticket revenue, the Sox generate TV and radio money commensurate with their location playing in the nation's #3 media market. Metro Chicago easily has the highest per capita income of any census tract in the Midwest (the very same markets that comprise the entire American League Central Division) and compares favorably with any market located between the coasts. The Sox certainly are not losers in tapping potential revenue streams.

Unfortunately potential revenue streams don't necessarily translate into wins, forget about actual championships. It's all about talent, and the Sox simply don't have enough it. In fact they haven't had enough talent for several generations. How to fix this?

There are basically two camps in Sox Fandom trying to answer this same question, the Rational Crazies and the Irrational Sensibles. Here's how they compare and contrast

Rational Crazies see all the obvious advantages Sox ownership enjoys playing in Chicago and expect the team to behave like a Big Market club. Never mind that no Sox owner has behaved this way for more than 1-2 seasons going all the way back to the Wilson administration. They don't give a damn! The Sox should sign free agents the likes of Carlos Beltran and Carl Pavano. To hear these Sox Fans tell it, the pot of championship gold is just over the rainbow.

Irrational Sensibles are quite the opposite. They note how every Sox ownership group has simply starved for revenue going all the way back to the days Warren G. Harding was urging "a return to normalcy." They note that the Sox must compete like a Small Market club. Never mind that no Sox team has won a championship since before the Teapot Dome scandal. They don't give a damn! The Sox should sit on their hands, martial every penny, and build to a glorious future with young talent. To hear these Sox Fans tell it, the pot of championship gold is just over the rainbow.

These two groups, Rational Crazies and Irrational Sensibles, couldn't be more different, nor any more alike. The facts support each of their respective theories to the precise extent another set of facts completely contradict their theories.

So the debate rages and rages. The Rational Crazies laugh and laugh after aging veteran Omar Vizquel gets $37.5 million to play for San Francisco. The Irrational Sensibles breath a sigh of relief as Christian Guzman signs a fat contract to play for Washington, the everyday jobs for young Juan Uribe and Willie Harris more secured on the South Side. The Irrational Sensibles plot countless schemes for how Randy Johnson might be added to the Sox roster with just the right Mulligan's Stew of trade bait, a combination of cheap pitchers and overpriced position players. Rational Crazies remember Keith Foulke nailing down Boston's championship last month and recount how many more ex-Sox just like him were traded away only to earn their championship rings someplace besides 35th & Shields.

And it goes on and on... no end in sight. Can you say "88 years and waiting?"

Meanwhile Jerry Reinsdorf calls the whole lot of us "crazy" for thinking we would ever catch Cleveland.

He has a point.


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive. You can write George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com

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