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WSI News - Season Features

May, 2000.  Few things in this world do Sox Fans loathe more than the local newspaper coverage.  In spite of a winning team, nothing changes for the Sox in the Chicago papers.
The Fishwrap Brigade

by Leonard Pierce

Before there was the internet, before television, before radio, there were box scores in the newspaper. Are there those left among us who can barely remember the days when the only way to get your White Sox scores was to wait for the morning paper? And despite the proliferation of the world wide web and the embarrassment of choice that satellite TV has wrought, there’s still nothing that satisfies like sitting down with the sports page. However, any Sox fans who do so may find themselves with the short end of the stick.

When it comes to Chicago newspapers, you can’t get very far without mentioning The Chicago Tribune. Regular readers of this column will no doubt be aware of this writer’s hostility towards the blatant Cubs bias of the Wrigley-owning Tribune Machine; but for all the crimes of CLTV, WGN radio and TV, and the ridiculous Chicago Sports web site, if you want a full appreciation of the putridness of it all you have to go right to the source.

The Trib’s sports section is a regular rogue’s gallery of Cubs towel-waving; but, more importantly, its determination to ignore or minimize the White Sox is transparent even to out-of-towners. Despite the protestations of the Tribune staff, there is quite obviously a bias at work: even when the Cubs lose (often), they manage to find bright spots enough (Kerry’s comeback, Sammy’s long-balls, the sublime charm of Chewing Gum Field) to put it above the fold. Even when the Sox win (often), they likewise manage to find the fly in the ointment (almost inevitably, the low attendance) and stick us on page 3.

Worst of all are the baby-blue-blooded clowns who appear as their regular columnists. A more heinous gaggle of flag-waving lowlifes would be hard to find: Sox beat writer Paul Sullivan obviously hates our team and his "always look for the cloud behind that silver lining" takes on every victory are a blatant cry to go back to his previous job of covering the Cubs. Short Takes auteur Steve Rosenblooom is a one-joke pony, and never tires of taking weak digs at the Pale Hose. Bernie Lincicome may be the most even-handed of the Trib crew insofar as he hates everyone equally. And relentless Sox-basher Skip Bayless may be the worst columnist in the whole world, his only serious competition coming from fellow Tribster Bob Greene.

The Tribune Machine’s tabloid-shaped competition, The Chicago Sun-Times, at least tries to be even-handed; since it has no economic stake in waving the Cubs flag, you’d expect it to be more fair. Or would you? They know which side of town has the most money and buys the most papers. So while it’s not as blatant as the Trib, you’re still more likely to see more ink devoted to a Cubs loss than a Sox win in the Sun-Times. It’s preferable to the Trib, however, for two reasons: first, buying the paper won’t put one red penny in the hands of the company that owns the Chicago Cubs; second, their columnists (from closet Sox fan Carol Slezak to oft-excellent Rick Telander to spotty front-runner Jay Mariotti) are, if not great, at least less poisonous than what the Trib offers.

While Baseball Weekly is indeed the diamond fan’s best friend, the USA Today publication is so wide-ranging you’re only likely to see a given team make the cover once a year or so, even when they’re hot; and USA Today itself pulls off the miracle of actually being relatively unbiased (great in principle but no fun for Sox fans). Therefore, the real must-have for the Sox fan seeking top-notch reporting on the Good Guys is The Daily Southtown. They give the Sox more than their due, they’re local to the South Side, and their columnists are outstanding. Phil Arvia is amusing if inconsistent, Sox beat writer Joe Cowley is excellent, and Bill Gleason, like Studs Terkel, is an old-style South Sider who should be declared a municipal treasure.

So, White Sox fans, do what I do: buy the Daily Southtown; read the Chicago Sun-Times if someone leaves a copy on the Red Line; and as for the Chicago Tribune, well, I’m sure you’ve got some birdcages that need lining or an outhouse that needs stocking.

Back to 2000 Champions!


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