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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Media Panic

by
Guy Bacci

The Internet is a strange place. While its benefits are many, its oddities are peculiar to the point of being mildly disturbing. The “blog-o-sphere” can turn perception into reality; it can transform obscure folks into cult heroes, or create a summer blockbuster out of Snakes on a Plane. And there’s no doubt it’s had an impact on how some people view sports fans, particularly ‘Net-savvy Sox fans.

When the White Sox suffered an embarrassing 10-4 drubbing at the hands of the Kansas City Royals last Wednesday, the insecurities of some fragile Sox fans were readily apparent. There was a wide array of illogical comments hammered into the post-game thread on WSI. Just a small sampling:

“It doesn’t look like the Sox are ready for the big post-season show.”

“This team is disgusting.”

“Time to waive(r) bye-bye to Cotts.”

“I just don’t see the lights turning ON when the playoffs arrive IF they get that far.”

While there’s no doubt a 10-4 loss to the Royals during the heat of a pennant race is frustrating, you gotta wonder if any of these fans were watching what happened last season. We should have learned a few things:

1) A baseball team can look like utter garbage for a day, a week, or even a month, and still win the World Series.

2) Said team can even look like utter garbage toward the end of the season, and still win the World Series.

3) A big, splashy deal need not be made at the deadline, and a team can still win the World Series. (That one’s for our good buddy Jay Mariotti, who seems to be convinced that sports journalism consists of ripping on GMs who don’t make dramatic deadline deals.)

4) And finally... last year the White Sox did something we never thought we’d see... win the World Series.

But this is the Internet, so you’re going to see every rapid-fire, slam-the-panic-button response that a 10-4 loss to the Royals elicits. Which is a shame, because there are plenty of rational arguments as to why the Sox are not as likely this year to do what they did last year. If you’d like to discuss the crappy attitude and ERA of Freddy Garcia, or the brutal schedule the Sox have down the stretch when compared to the schedule of their rivals, that’s fine. But picking on Neal Cotts? Seriously?

Like it or not, that’s what the Internet is all about. You gotta learn what to take with a few grains of salt. Surprisingly, sports journalists are having a hard time adjusting. Their email inboxes are flooded with wacky responses from trigger-happy fanatics, and they attribute those reactions to all of Soxdom.

Just a few weeks ago, Rick Morrissey of the Tribune ended a fan-bashing column by saying, “Sox fans, who seem to be happiest when they’re unhappy, wear black. Perfect. They’re already in mourning.”

That’s a cheap shot from a Cub-fan writer who’s gotten plenty of hate mail from Sox fans over columns in the past. While it’s disgusting that any columnist is getting hate mail--especially a decent guy like Morrissey who just underwent surgery for colon cancer--these columnists must be strong enough to ignore the digital ramblings. I’ve certainly ripped on Morrissey before, but I don’t believe for an instant he really gives a crap what I think. Don’t let the Internet bring ya down, bro.

Dig deeper into the WSI forums and you’ll see even the online fans are rational. Most Sox fans are enjoying the ride and still have a degree of faith in their club. And why not? The Sox have the best offense in the league, a fireballin’ bullpen, and a rotation that still has immense potential. That sounds like a recipe for a fantastic playoff team.

It’s okay for some fans to choose panic. Fans will be fans. But not everyone is in panic mode, and Sox Nation certainly isn’t “mourning” as Morrissey blindly suggests. Heck, there’s a trophy with lots of little flags that’s been bouncing around the ballpark all summer. Anyone who truly is mourning should be ashamed of himself. This is an amazing time to be a Sox fan.

Sure, the dog days of August are taking its toll. But every team has to go through it. The Red Sox rotation is getting clobbered. The Twins have Liriano on the DL and Radke pitching on his last tendon before retirement. The Wild Card should be a great fight to the bitter end.

And if it all ends in disappointment, take a few deep breaths and put things in perspective. We were treated to the October of a lifetime last season. Just promise to think of that for a few seconds before booting up your computer and unloading your frustration on a message board.

Neal Cotts and his respectable 3.59 ERA would greatly appreciate it.


Guy Bacci is from the north suburbs of Chicago, where he couldn't avoid growing up as a pampered and snotty Cubs fan. Luckily, he saw the light in 1985 and never looked back. He loved the hard-working, old-school tactics of Carlton Fisk, who would become his all-time favorite player. His most memorable moment was going to a Sox double-header with his grandfather, who insisted on staying all nine hours (including a long rain delay). Guy is a journalism grad from Northwestern, currently residing in Seattle, where he works as a computer programmer and freelance writer. He can be reached at guybacci@yahoo.com.

More features from Guy Bacci here!

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