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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Media Rips!
by Hal Vickery

Sometimes I wish everyone reading this could also read my email. No, not the stuff about buying drugs at discount prices, barely legal teens, or how if I give this Nigerian prince my savings account number, I can keep a hundred thousand dollars that he needs to get out of his country. Iím talking about the email I get as a result of this column.

One of the themes of such email has been that the media will never give the Sox a fair shake, so I should just relax and not bother to comment on it. I guess Iíve been a good boy lately because I havenít received any email lately on that subject. I think thatís about to change now.

I probably wouldnít even have known that one such article about the Cubs existed had I not received a call for an interview for a ďWhite Sox fanís perspective.Ē It was a Chicago based writer for Reuters, a wire service that is mostly read in Europe. In fact Reuters is to Europe as the AP is to the United States.

The premise of the article, I was told, was that the White Sox have the best record in baseball, but are the second team in their own city. The writer identified herself as a White Sox fan. I was asked why the Sox couldnít fill their ballpark while the Cubs fill theirs every game.

I did some research before the article, and if youíre a regular reader, you already know what I told her. The Sox draw poorly before Memorial Day. Attendance picks up when school gets out. This has to do with how the two clubs in town are marketed. (I must say that the writer did use part of this information.)

The Sox market to families. Families generally donít go to ball games until school is out. The Cubs (and this is the part she used) market their ball park and trendy neighborhood. When you market your ballpark and its environs, you really donít have to have a good team. People go for the ďexperience.Ē

Now comes the part she didnít use. I backed up my premise about Sox attendance. I took attendance figures from all Sox home games this year and divided them up into pre-Memorial Day games and post-Memorial Day games. Here are the exact figures, the ones youíll never see or hear from the local or national media:

ē Between April 7 (opening day) and May 18 (the last Sox home game before Memorial Day), the Sox drew a grand total of 470,675 fans over twenty-one dates. That is an average of 22,413 fans per game.

ē From May 30 (Memorial Day) through July 24 (the Sox last home date), the Sox have drawn 992,677 fans over thirty-one dates, an average of 32,021 per game.

ē Thus, for the fifty-two home games the Sox have played, they have drawn a grand total of 1,463,342 fans, an average of 28,141 fans per game.

ē Assuming the Cubs average about 37,000 per game, Sox attendance since Memorial Day is roughly fourteen percent lower than Cubs attendance. That is not the huge discrepancy that the media types would have us all believe exists.

Unfortunately the writer chose not to go with these figures because her assignment was to explain why the Sox are so unpopular.

The writer used one other quote from me regarding the perception of The Cell as being an unsafe place to watch a game because of the rowdy fans. I did say what was attributed to me: "We've had a couple of bad incidents that really got blown up in the press,"

However, I did go on and explain that according to reports, a relative of Mr. Ligue admitted that ďHe isnít much of a baseball fan,Ē and that Mr. Dybasís fiancťe stated that he is a Cubs fan who took advantage of both the Cubs and Sox being at home on the same day by drinking all afternoon at Wrigley Field, driving home (Iíll leave any conclusions about that to the reader), and then driving back to The Cell for the Sox game that evening, purchasing an upper deck ticket, drinking some more, going downstairs, and attacking an umpire.

Of course that part was omitted from the article. I guess itís just a matter of not letting facts get in the way of a good story.

As of Saturday, Iíve only found this story at one location on the internet: I leave it to you to judge for yourselves whether the information I provided that was omitted would have made for a more balanced story.

-------

Leave it to the Chicago Tribune to do a hatchet job on Frank Thomas when he is down. Lizzie Borden in this case is played by Tribune writer Paul Sullivan, whose premise is stated in the storyís second paragraph:

ďThomas has been a sportswriter's dream, an outspoken star with a nasty habit of inserting himself into the middle of a major controversy, by accident or by design. Money often was involved, along with a perceived lack of respect for his many accomplishments.Ē

Sullivan then goes on to cite thirteen such incidents of Thomasís ďinserting himself.Ē Of course a grand total of two of these incidents actually involved Thomas in any kind of questionable behavior.

One was a shoving match between Thomas and Robin Ventura in August of 1996. The other was in July 2002 when Thomas skipped a pre-game practice after being benched by Gen. Disarray (AKA Jerry Manuel), who was then managing the Sox.

A couple of borderline cases occurred in February 2001 when Thomas left spring training ďafter the first dayĒ to try to renegotiate his contract. However, since Thomas did report on the day that all players had to report according to the CBA and didnít leave camp after that date (a fact not reported by Sullivan), the controversy seems to be media generated.

The other borderline incident occurred in August 2002 after Carlos Lee commented negatively on Thomasís being tagged out because of his failure to slide into home. Thomas (in Sullivanís description of his tone of voice) barked, "That's the last guy to tell me what to do." Thomasís comment was a reference to Leeís lack of baserunning skills.

As for the other nine ďincidents,Ē most of them are simply things that were blown up by the media to make Thomas look like a bad guy.

Who knows? Maybe Thomasís attitude in the locker room is what the media says. If so, then he must suffer from multiple personalities. Iíve never met Thomas, but I know people who have, and their description is just the opposite.

My experience with Thomas comes solely from my association with the Windy City Sox Fans. What I do know is that Thomas is aware of the charitable nature of the group and has always signed anything the club has asked him. Iím the proud owner of a Thomas-autographed ball and framed photograph that I won in our annual raffle a couple of years ago.

My son has also had an experience with Thomas. He happened to be eating in a suburban restaurant a few years ago when Thomasís party sat down at the table next to the group my son was in. My son, who was about twenty-one or twenty-two at the time asked him to autograph his menu, which he graciously did, and then even posed with him for a couple of pictures. Thatís not exactly the bad guy that has been portrayed by the media.

-------

So to those of you who want me to let it go, let me just say one more thing. When the Chicago media drop their bias, which if not pro-Cubs is certain anything but pro-Sox, then Iíll let it go. Until then, expect to read about the more blatant examples of such bias here.

If you donít want to read it, just donít click on the link.


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!

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