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Chicago Proud
for Our Sox!

by George Bova

A Sox Truth

by George Bova

White Sox Fans have been a breed apart for a very long time.  Though we share many attributes with one another, we don't necessarily share those same attributes with others outside the fold.  Again, it's been this way for a very long time.

Could this simple truth be the source of so much confusion over what being a Sox Fan is all about?  Perhaps 2009 is the year we finally get a definitive answer. 

Speaking as a totally biased Sox Fan, I certainly hope this is the year the confusion finally ends. 

The landscape we Sox Fans live in has changed a lot these last few years.  The watershed moment clearly came on the evening of October 26, 2005 when the City of Chicago was crowned with its first baseball championship in over 88 years.  If the significance of this seminal event wasn't written in broad enough letters across the dawning sky above Lake Michigan, the victory parade that very same afternoon placed an unmistakable exclamation point to the birth of something very new.  There were 1.7 million cheering Sox Fans lining that victory route, and many of these Sox Fans were newly-minted. 

The world has been trying to play catch up ever since.  What it all meant was the question I asked that day over four years ago.  Nobody has ever presented a good answer in the time since.

Clearly we Sox Fans have been confused.  Some of us became utterly smitten with the 25 heroes of the 2005 roster, incapable of recognizing the normal passing of time on whatever perceived talent we ever ascribed to these once-in-4-generations champions.  Others couldn't decide whether to love or hate the front office and field management as either the cause or hindrance of future Sox victories.  This debate hasn't solved a thing in four years time.

What about our new role as the city's only fans of championship baseball teams since the Taft administration?  Some of us are happy with one championship ring while still others pooh-pooh any such accomplishment until 26 or so have been collected, ala the New York Yankees.  Are we the generation to make up for the failings of 88 years worth of also-rans?  I doubt this is reasonable...

The wider world is even more confused.  Suddenly our North Side cousins have discovered there are no rewards for attendance, no glory in division crowns, and their time-honored diversions of beer, broads and sunshine just don't cut it any longer when their team is flat-out sucking.  Today they wave "W" flags where no such artifacts existed until 2006.  Yes, they even boo their bumbling heroes.  Ron Santo is nearly ready to cry.

Their world is totally new.  For the first time since the 1940's, their vision is grounded in reality.  They owe it all to Sox Fans.  Just don't expect any of them to admit it.  Their shallow nature hasn't changed at all.

And what about the media?  Perhaps they've been the most-confused of all.

The national media has never understood Chicago baseball besides what picture-postcards the Channel 9 super-station has sold them through the years.  The clowns in Bristol, Connecticut never bother much with illuminating any baseball story that doesn't include a New York or Boston by-line.  Not even the Wall Street Journal could avoid plunging into the usual stereotypes about Sox Fans with one of the most insipid Page 1 feature stories of the 2005 baseball season.  The Sox and Sox Fans remain a "black box" the national media don't understand and obviously don't care to learn about either.  Maybe that's why we Sox Fans don't care about them?  Most of us tune out...

What's new is the fledging MLB Network cable/satellite channel that offers new promise to focus on worthy baseball story lines like those generated by our Sox -- and Sox Fans, too.  The Bristol sports monopoly has been broken.  The new MLB Network's coverage suffers from obvious start-up issues still to be worked through (Please, less Harold Reynolds!), but we Sox Fans have nowhere to go but up.

On the local front Sam Zell is busy squeezing the last dollar out of his Tribune ownership of the Cubs.  It's virtually the only Tribune asset with any real profit upside for a potential buyer.  The selling process has now dragged on for nearly three years dating back to when Dennis Fitzsimmons was the 4-star clown running the Tribune's corporate Bozo Circus.

While Fitzsimmons' paid shills had little reason to ever be objective about covering either their sister baseball division or the #1 competition they faced in the marketplace, they've been in full-grovel mode ever since the pink slips started flying around Tribune Tower.  Those who still have a job are thankful and cheering their own corporate existence is Job One, no longer tied as much to shilling for the Cubs as simply shilling for whatever will reverse circulation declines and the avalanche of ad revenue shortfalls.  Six weeks worth of front-page presidential keepsakes this winter did more to shatter their silly illusions about journalistic integrity than any Sox hit-piece their news reporters ever splashed on page 1 or their sports department cheerleaders ever dreamed up in their delusional world where losers are celebrated and winners treated with suspect if not outright contempt.

The relevance of the Chicago Tribune to the remainder of the Chicago media has never been lower.  We Sox Fans only benefit.

What else is new in 2009?  How about one of our own running the country from inside the White House.

What all of these Sox truths have in common with one another is that all of it changes the fundamental landscape we Sox Fans and our team have inhabited the past 50 years or more.  Dating back to the days when the Sox played inside Old Comiskey Park under arc lights clouded in cigar smoke and the air was filled with the acrid odor from the Union Stockyard, the Sox have been decidedly the unglamorous team on the unglamorous side of town.  It is a reputation built upon some of the silliest and outdated stereotypes ever conceived anywhere in Chicago, reinforced by powerful interests who've suddenly found they've become both weak and ineffectual.

Our Sox are the team for Chicago's future, not for the past 50 years of losing and slavish devotion to false myths of "tradition" built strictly on lies, but a brave new world that continues to evolve even three years after we all knew the world had changed permanently.  We Sox Fans are those most-obviously positioned to benefit now as WINNING is the standard benchmark of success, not what came before.

What is it to be a Sox Fan in Chicago or anywhere else?  Maybe... finally... we might get an answer.  The outside world is paying attention, both locally and beyond.

Those standing in the way of progress, make way.  You're at real risk of being run over.


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


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