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April, 2000.  Notes from opening night at Comiskey and stupid whines on sports talk radio.
Sox Fans:
Would You Please Just Shut Up!

by Hal Vickery

I would have liked for this tirade to have appeared last week, but I decided to drive out to Burlington, IA last Saturday to see the Sox Class A- (short hand for low-level A) farm club play. But even if it is a week out of date, it's something I have to get off my chest. 

On Friday, April 14, I drove to Comiskey Park from Chicago to be at opening night. After Ray Durham made THE CATCH, one of the best I've seen in 45 years of fandom, and after Frank Thomas and Paul Konerko both went yard to the opposite field, I was in a great mood. Then came the post-game fireworks display. It was the best I've ever seen at Comiskey Park, old or new version. 

When I got to my car, I turned on ESPN-1000 and heard Dave Wills and Bill Melton interviewing Ray and Keith Foulke in the bullpen bar. The fans cheered Ray and were chanting "CLOSER! CLOSER!" for Foulke. We won at home on opening night. The joint was rockin' just like in '77, '83, '93, and '94. What could ruin such a perfect evening? 

Who else? People calling themselves Sox fans were calling that other sports talk station in town, the one that doesn't carry Sox games. And what were they talking about? Durham's catch? Thomas's and Konerko's home runs? Keith Foulke's outstanding relief performance? 

HELL NO! They were talking, no make that WHINING about, "I had to wait in line at the restroom!" "It took me a half hour to get a beer!" "They MOVED us from the bleachers during the seventh inning because of the fireworks!" "They didn't open up the ballpark early for batting practice!" 

I agree with the host of the show, who finally said, "Sox fans, SHUT UP!"  Let's take the complaints one by one. 

Restroom lines: Comiskey park has more restroom facilities than any outdoor facility in Chicago. There were nearly 39,000 fans at the ballpark, most of them drinking beer. Do you think you're the only person whose kidneys are affecting by beer drinking? I offer you two alternatives. One is drink less. The roads will be a lot safer when you're trying to drive. The other was stated by a caller whose name I wish I knew so I could give him credit. His advice? "You're adults. HOLD it!" True words of wisdom. 

Long concession lines: This was a problem, I guess. I got to the park and was in and out of the restroom and had my dinner purchased by 5:30. My son came from his job after picking up the others in our party. He arrived at 7:45 due to parking hassles. He went to the nacho line and was back in ten minutes. However, others whom I know and trust said it was a mess. My son mentioned that vendors who would normally be strolling the aisles hawking their wares were selling out before they got past the concourse. 

The Sox were obviously not prepared for such a huge crowd. But then again, why should they have been. It's precisely the same people who have been bitching and moaning about other things who haven't been coming out to the ballpark. Do you really expect the Sox to be prepared for the day when you personally decide to favor us all with an appearance? I hate to say it, but if you haven't been going to games since 1994, the vendor situation was YOUR fault! 

Of course there was another circumstance aggravating the matter.  Do you think those vendors working the Cubs game that afternoon (2:00 p.m. start) really were going to make it to Comiskey Park by game time? It to me an hour and forty-five minutes to get from the Tri-State interchange on the Northwest Tollway to the ballpark. But to the whiners, it was all the fault of the White Sox. 

Being escorted from the bleachers: So you really wanted burning fireworks falling on you? You wanted to have that entire section vacated after the game, causing a long delay before the start of the display? Did you notice that the top section of bleachers was covered? Why do you think that was? Do you really think the rest of us wanted to wait for you to be escorted out of the area of greatest danger of accident for the show to start? 

One caller complained, "They never did it that early?" Well, I'll tell you another thing. The bleachers never were that full. Duh! 

Opening the gates for batting practice: One caller in a very snotty voice told the talk show host that he wanted his kid to see batting practice and maybe get an autograph, and Sox management was depriving him of that. Well, don't look now, but at the other ballpark in Chicago, they also open up the gates 90 minutes before game time. I went to a minor league game in Burlington, IA yesterday, as I write this, and arrived an hour and forty-five minutes before game time and was informed when I inquired that the gates opened ONE HOUR before game time. Did I call their local station and complain that "At Kane County, they open up TWO hours before game time"? Nope. That's how they do it. 

The Sox have opened up the gates 90 minutes before game time for as long as the current ballpark has been open, to the best of my recollection. If not that long, then certainly since 1992. 

Which leads to my final point. Do you have a complaint about Comiskey Park? Do you have a complaint about how Sox management does things? Here's a clue. Before you call a sports talk station, try calling the appropriate person in White Sox management. 

As most complaints seemed to deal with ballpark operations, I'd say ask for Terry Savarise. If you think it's a public relations problem, call Scott Reifert or Bob Beghtol. But for cryin' out loud, shut up and quit calling sports talk radio. You're giving us all a bad name!

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 physical sciences at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL.  He obviously likes to drive because he commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with Lee, his wife of 25 years, their son Jeff, and Buster T. Beagle.

Hal's opinions are strictly his own and do not necessarily reflect those of North Boone High School or Buster T. Beagle.


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