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WSI News - News Watch

Wall Street Journal K's looking at Sox!

filed by George Bova

June 15. 2005

It's not often that a newspaper as large and influential as the Wall Street Journal bothers to write a front page story about Chicago's other team, the White Sox.  So it was especially disappointing to read staff reporter Erik Ahlberg pedestrian recounting of all the conventional wisdom, half-truths, and flat-out stupidity surrounding the team, its fans, the neighborhood, and of course what everybody really wants to know about:  those Lovable Losers from the North Side.  Sox Fans have heard it all before... excuse us if we're not impressed that the Wall Street Journal is sharing this tired crap with its global readership.

Would Erik Ahlberg like to work in Chicago?  He's got all his cliches figured out and just like the sports mediots working here in NYC's mid-continent backwater, he doesn't share a single shred of insight with his readers.  After the latest embarrassing factual retractions, the Sun-Times is probably looking to upgrade their feature columnist slot.  Interested, Erik?

Ahlberg dutifully recounts all the usual complaints and excuses.  Disappointed players.  Too little star power from franchise icons like Fox & Aparicio.  Fan base too blue-collar.  Cubune too slanted.  (He even gets a quote for Pravda's sports editor, never bothering to ask how one becomes editor of Pravda sports.)  Scary neighborhood.  Lousy ballpark.  Housing projects.  (He probably lifted this angle from the New York Times plagiarist Jayson Blair since virtually all the high rises have come down the past four years.  Details... details...)  Ahlberg even gets a quote from that embarrassment to all of Chicago, the morning dope on sports blab radio who dutifully serves up a flippant comment about Sox crime.  Now there's a credible source's opinion to share coast-to-coast!

Here are the insights Wall Street Journal readers didn't get from Erik Ahlberg in his page 1 feature.

1. Since Mark Buehrle told Ahlberg the Sox should charge for parking and give away tickets to the vacant upper deck, what was the reaction from Brooks Boyer when Ahlberg posed the idea to the Sox marketing director?  Ahlberg never asked the question and never got the insight to share with the rest of us.

2. If a Sox Fan claims "99 percent of White Sox fans are blue-collar," what implications does this have for how the Sox market themselves?  Is such a statement even true?  Certainly Brooks Boyer was available to debunk it.  Ahlberg leaves the world to think this Sox Fan knows what he's talking about.

3. Nine years after the 1994 strike, can anyone still withholding support from Jerry Reinsdorf's Sox be still honestly considered a White Sox fan?  When do they simply become irrelevant to those who truly are Sox fans, not simply Reinsdorf haters?  Ahlberg makes no distinction.

4. If Ahlberg feels it's relevant to report how 98% of seats are sold at the Cubs' ballpark, what does it say about how much better that team has been marketed than the Sox?  Ahlberg doesn't ask anyone that question.  What does it say about the intelligence of the average Chicago baseball fan that they dutifully line up to see second-rate baseball?  What does it say about the Sox poor methods to successfully sell tickets to a superior product?  Ahlberg never thinks to investigate either of these.  What does it say that Ahlberg simply quotes Paul Konerko that next year will bring more of the same?  Are the two of them laying the blame on Sox Fans, the very people who actually are attending games to see a winning baseball team? 

Does the Wall Street Journal make a habit of blaming the paying customer for the manifest incompetence of management?  Say it ain't so!

This is the sort of sports journalism Sox Fans have come to expect from the local hacks, in the papers and on TV and radio, too.  The Wall Street Journal ought to be held to a higher standard.  This wasn't even a good effort by Chicago's low standards, forget about those for the most influential business publication in the world.

The Wall Street Journal struck out looking.  Grab some bench.

Have a thought about this
totally biased


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