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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Marketing the Sox
A few tongue-in-cheek ideas from a Sox Fan

Patrick Dahl

I am a pretty simple kid. Two of my favorite things about life are good food and White Sox baseball. Los Angeles, my home for almost a year, has neither. Needless to say, on my most recent two-week sojourn home I partook in devouring more than my fair share of Italian sausages and other dietary wonders. I also managed to squeeze in four games of a six game White Sox home stand.

At these games, I was introduced to the world of the new marketing guru, Brooks Boyer, who the White Sox hired from the Bulls. It got me thinking about the daunting task that lies ahead of him. We Sox fans all hope that he has ideas that will rejuvenate the perception of this team, but it is going to take a lot more than a few novelties borrowed from his tenure at the Bulls to right this ship.

†So far Boyerís changes have been minimal. For example, the players are now introduced individually instead of running out onto the field as ďYour Chicago White Sox.Ē This has irritated a few fans, but I can see where he is going: he wants to make the White Sox household names.† Fans, meet Timo Perez. Timo, meet the fans. I can get over this.

He has also invited the bucket boys, previously featured at the United Center and outside Marshall Fields, to perform on top of the dugouts between innings. Frankly, the kids impress me, and I donít want the bad karma associated with complaining about four kids from the ghetto who are making a name for themselves.

However, one must wonder, where will it stop? Are the Sox going to incorporate all of the Bullsí marketing gimmicks?

Donít get me wrong; I would be excited if the White Sox had a troupe of beautiful Lovabull-type dancers to entertain the crowd between innings. I could do without the Matadors, the Bulls group of overweight dancing guys.

I could also get used to a remote control blimp that floats around and drops Comiskey cash to the crowd. This practice might have to be suspended on half-price nights to avoid encouraging even more fist fights, but Iíd happily grab for a slip of paper that would make my churro one buck cheaper. This would undoubtedly lead to the first death due to falling out of the upper deck, though, and so it seems unlikely.

The fun doesnít have to stop there.

The Bulls have da Bull. Besides his drug habit, da Bull is best known for his ability to dunk during time outs. Maybe Mr. Boyer will bring Waldo the White Sox Wolf to life. Between innings he will smack home runs out of the park. Iíve heard Danny Wright might be ďcalled upĒ to make sure he gets good pitches to hit.

The Bulls are known for showcasing the Jesse White tumblers. It was just last week Willie Harris took one of the greatest tumbles over Magglio Ordonez that Iíve ever seen. Is this all part of the new marketing plan?

I can only hope that the White Sox donít make the mistake of wearing shorts again. Especially baggy mesh ones.

In all seriousness, Brooks Boyer has a very intimidating challenge in front of him. He has to revitalize a franchise whose fan base remains very angry with its owner. He has to convince the media that U.S. Cellular isnít the crime-ridden eyesore that they claim it is. And mainly, he has to convince fans to start coming out to the park again.

Since moving to Los Angeles Iíve learned a lot about the importance of production value. Shows and Movies will spend thousands of dollars making sure that their production provides an authentic and quality representation of whatever they are trying to create. A set that portrays a dentistís office will have real tools, a real chair, and a scheduling book with appointments written in. People make it their full time jobs to make sure these imaginary worlds adhere to what people expect.

Last week I waited in line for two innings to get a slice of sausage pizza. The wait made the pizza that much more delicious, but left me with a sour taste in my mouth. The park was understaffed and I was grumpy until the end of the game, when fireworks made me forgive any resentment I felt.† That little bit of production value helped me leave the park wanting to come back for more.

My advice to Brooks Boyer is to increase the production value at U.S. Cellular field. The Bucket Boys and the fireworks after the National Anthem are steps in the right direction, but there is more to be done. Make sure that there are enough ushers to control the crowd. Come up with some new entertainment for between innings- it has been the same for the past three years. If the people want green seats then give them green seats. Get the mayor to co-sponsor some sort of neighborhood program that will bring restaurants and shops to the area. Pressure your boss to resign big names. Invest a little money and fans will surely respond.

Boyer has inherited a franchise closely tied with Bill Veeck, one of the greatest marketing minds in the history of baseball. Veeck said that ď we can't always guarantee the ball game is going to be good; but we can guarantee the fan will have fun.Ē There is no question that the Sox have been moving in the right direction, and now the marketing responsibilities have been handed off to a new person. So come on, Brooks. Give us a show.

Patrick Dahl is a die-hard Sox fan from the southwest suburbs who currently finds himself working as an entertainment industry grunt in Los Angeles.† Pat graduated from Northwestern University where he was a Radio/Television/Film major.† His favorite White Sox moments include being a batboy for Michael Jordan (while wearing a pair of Ozzie Guillen's pants- which he still owns) and having his dad warn him that Carlton Fisk was going to hit a home run moments before it happened.† He also saw Bo Jackson hit a homerun in his first game back from hip replacement surgery.† Patrick has very hopes for new manager Ozzie Guillen and the 2004 White Sox.

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