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WSI News - Season Features

April, 2000.  The Sox start the season in impressive fashion, but skeptics remain.
Advice for Chicago's Stepchild

by Dan Helpingstine

The White Sox are off to their best start in years, and for the first time in a long time, fans have real reason to be optimistic.  13-6 does not a season make, but the team's play for the first 19 games of the year can't be laughed off as a fluke.  The Sox are showing a cohesiveness that has been almost completely absent during the mid to late '90's.

However, the crowds are still not big, and the franchise isn't out of hot water.  Anger and bitterness has been chiefly blamed on fans who have boycotted the team since 1997.  But the bitterness has come from all sides.  I would like to give the following advice to everyone concerned so that the White Sox can become a healthy major league franchise instead of the Chicago sports stepchild it has been since 1994.

To the boycotting and or angry fans:
Come back to Comiskey.  I don't usually give this kind of advice to people regarding how they spend their free time and money.  This team is very good, however, and you're missing something special by not returning.  It's not their fault they play for Jerry Reinsdorf.

Admit that the 1997 trades are good for the Sox in the long run.  This is a real hard pill to swallow considering the circumstances of the trades.  But ask yourself something: What has the over-weight and overrated Wilson Alvarez done lately?

Don't complain about the little stuff.  Long lines in concession stands and bathrooms are frustrating.  Yet, I'm sure every modern day stadium has the problem.  I have been more concerned about other problems the team has had, and the inability to get a beer isn't one of them.

To the fans who have supported Reinsdorf and or have continued to attend games since 1997:
Don't forget 1994 or 1997.  Just because there has been a passage of time doesn't mean we should have memory lapses.  History forgotten is only repeated.  The World Series survived two world wars, an economic depression and the social upheaval of the '60's.  But it couldn't survive a negotiating table?  And how would the White Sox organization react if Comiskey emptied any time the Sox trailed by three going into the seventh inning?

Don't go overboard.  Show me a two-game winning streak, and I'll show you a Cub fan who thinks his favorite team is going to the World Series.  I couldn't be happier with this start, but I'd like the see the starters take more games into the seventh and eighth innings.  The bullpen is very good, but we don't want it overused.  We have a right to be happy and hopeful.  Meanwhile, the Sox should be looking to acquire another starter.

To the media:
Stop lecturing fans.  You've been doing it for years, and it hasn't changed anything.  Besides, the only time one person has to justify him or herself to anyone is when he or she has done something immoral or illegal.  Not going to Sox games doesn't fit into either category.

Get off Darrin Jackson's back.  Anyone starting a new job is going to be awful at it in the beginning.  Besides, the April 22 telecast was one of the best in years.

To Jerry Reinsdorf:
Don't be smug.  Remember when you lashed out at critics after the 1983 division championship?  It must have been irresistible, but look what happened.  The rest of the '80's was spent in non-contention.

Don't be complacent.  This team could still use some help.  At least send your general manager to the winter meetings next year.

To White Sox players:
Don't take things personally.  Many of the team's problems pre-date your arrival.  Fans will return.  In the meantime, the fans who are coming and watching on TV see what I see: Promising players who have the ability to take a suffering franchise and turn it into a real winner. 

Editor's Note:  Dan Helpingstine is a free lance writer living in Highland, Indiana.  His upcoming book is "Why Do the Sox Always Lose - A Fair Weather Fan's History of the Chicago White Sox 1967-1997."  The book is the story of one fan's roller coaster ride with the luckless White Sox.


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