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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

A New Era for Sox Fans

by George Bova

Isn't it silly how Sox Fans have been forced to defend themselves over the years? The reasons for this are seemingly endless, but nearly any Sox Fans can recite most of them without a second thought. It's a string of cliches about the Sox team, unlovable; the ballpark New Comiskey/U.S. Cellular Field, unfriendly; the neighborhood Armour Square/Bridgeport, un-hip; the "class" (i.e. color) of the fans, low; and of course the ownership, heartless... if not incompetent, too. Most of all: The second team in the Second City.

Normally there wouldn't be anything too unusual about any of these cliches. The Sox and their fans are hardly unique to be associated with unflattering cliches. What is unique is that for years the primary distributors of these unflattering cliches have been the HOMETOWN media. For shame!

It's enough to give a Sox Fan a complex, I'm telling ya!

But the most wonderful event in the city's baseball history occurred just over a year ago to change practically everything for White Sox Fans. Our team was crowned World Series baseball champion, a small portion of reflected glory reserved for us, the fans who have supported the team in spite of all the hometown negative cliches.

October 26, 2005 has become an inflection point in the lives of Sox Fans, if not Chicago's baseball community more generally. The old way of looking at things no longer makes sense. In fact, it can become downright silly to treat this new outfit the same as the one that lost for 88 years straight.

It's a fact that Chicago's casual baseball fans turned out in record numbers to demonstrate their support for the White Sox with an unprecedented ticker tape parade stretching across seven Chicago neighborhoods and filling the LaSalle Street canyon with as many as 1.8 million supporters. They showed up again throughout the 2006 season to fill quite nearly 3 million seats -- also unprecedented on the South Side. And most of all, these casual baseball fans finally realized what we Sox Fans have known from the very start, that baseball is played to WIN and there is nothing -- nothing! -- lovable about losing. By all reliable metrics of marketing popularity, including TV/radio ratings, the White Sox are #1 in Chicago.

It's a bitter pill for the Chicago Tribune's baseball division to swallow -- and not less than a $300 million albatross on their corporate parent's balance sheet -- trying to battle back in the war to convince the usual 3 million idiots that losing can be expensive, if not lovable, too. And speaking as just one Sox Fan, I can't help but note just how delightful it is to know Cubune CEO Dennis FitzSimmons is allowing his baseball division to spend Cubune Cash in this manner while the desks are being emptied and whole sets of formerly-filled cubicles lie empty in the offices of the L.A. Times and inside Tribune Tower. All the hired shills working amongst the newly-empty cubicles know too well the score: FitzSimmons will hock all the company jewels to save his own skin long before he'll lift a finger to save theirs. Sucks to be them...

It's too bad the windsock writing his nonsense for the other local paper isn't living in mortal fear, too. Never fear! His own paper is a financial wreck about to collapse on itself... it's only a matter of time now. Yes Sox Fans, the future is delicious indeed!

The inflection point towards this new era for Sox Fandom makes the cliches we've learned and loathed completely irrelevant. However it is sometimes difficult for those who write about the team to see it. In fact it is even difficult sometimes for Sox Fans themselves to recognize it. The old behavior -- both the sportswriters' and our own -- simply doesn't fit anymore.

Having won a championship barely a year ago, Sox Fans have no good reason to panic over whether the core of their team has the championship pedigree. We KNOW they have the pedigree, because the very core of players to deliver the city's first baseball championship since the Wilson Administration is still here.

Having won a championship barely a year ago, Sox Fans have no good reason to hang their championship hopes on sophomore pitchers sporting lifetime 7-9 major league records and who never did get their act together pitching out of the bullpen. The fifth starter the 2007 Sox now figure to employ won't be any less a question mark than the one now departed to Texas -- in spite of patently absurd descriptions of his pedigree as a "polished workhorse" by not less than the primary baseball columnist in the city. Phil Rogers, you expect subscribers to pay money to read this crap?

Most of all, having won a championship barely a year ago, Sox Fans have no good reason to dig up a bunch old grievances with the team, the management, or its ownership. Nobody had more right to complain about any of this than did Sox Fans for the 88 years of bad teams, bad management, bad ownership, and sometimes just plain bad luck that followed us everywhere as surely as our own shadow. But as of October 26, 2005 it has all changed. You just sound silly, sniveling, and pathetic to drag up topics like the infamous White Flag trade of 1997 when complaining about the post-2005 White Sox. That old style behavior just doesn't cut it anymore.

The slate is clean. A new era has dawned. And now that the Sox aren't champions of baseball anymore, it's about time Sox Fans -- and our hometown media, too -- begin acting like we're supporting (and they're covering) an organization with championship pedigree. There is only ONE baseball team in Chicago serious about the subject and $300 million spent on the likes of career mediocrities such as Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis isn't changing this fact for any baseball fan -- or baseball sportswriter -- intelligent enough to smell panic (if not bullshit) emanating in unprecedented quantity from the other side of town..

Yeah, none of us have any experience with this. We need to learn fast.


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

More features from George Bova here!

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