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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Kansas City Blues

Entitled Sox Fans?
by Jim Laffer

It’s actually a bit odd to be typing that title. I mean since when have Sox fans been entitled to anything other than swift kick in the ass, an early exit from the playoffs (at best) and a continuous stream of “Sox suck, their fans suck and here’s why” articles in the local media? Yet here it is, December 8th, 2007 – the winter meetings have just concluded and Sox fans are ranting and raving about how betrayed they feel. The most obvious target for these rants has been Sox GM Kenny Williams who just missed out on acquiring his own self-described key pieces to returning the Sox to championship form in the past few weeks. Worse than that, both of those pieces were then acquired by AL rivals – Detroit and Anaheim and while it sucks to be us, it really sucks to be Kenny these days.

Responses to Kenny’s failures have ranged from mild to outrageous with some fans shrugging their shoulders, admitting that 2008 is probably a rebuilding year given the state of the competition and some fans practically frothing at the mouth to get Kenny fired, burn Jerry Reinsdorf in effigy and even turn in their membership badges to the Sox Fan For Life club. Some particularly angry ones have gone so far as to write off not just 2008 but ask if the Sox can compete in 2009 or even beyond. These latter responses leaves yours truly shaking his head and wondering how things got to this stage only two short years removed from a World Championship. Of course the fact that the Sox have so recently won a championship seems to make it all the worse according to the bashers. Not that any of them would have changed many moves in the past few years that led to the Sox only winning 72 games last year, but that doesn’t change their feeling that they have been personally betrayed and someone has to pay.

Cheap, timid and stupid have returned to the descriptions of Sox management and everyone should simply forget about that first in our lifetime World Series Championship a few years ago and judge the management team strictly by what happened last season and since. Never mind that it took a ton of injuries as well as almost every player on the team having an off year to reach that level of failure. Yes, the bullpen was suspect, but no one seems to be willing to admit they thought the Sox were doomed to failure this past season for the actual reasons that happened. That doesn’t stop them from cursing Kenny all the louder while proclaiming he should have known better.

So what’s to be done with the Sox and their suddenly entitled fan base? The team is already improved and a lot could go right this coming season just as it could go wrong even if nothing else changes. Good young talent like Danny Richar and Josh Fields give hope for the future. John Danks seems to have all the skills to be a solid young pitcher and even if Gavin Floyd doesn’t work out in the 5th starter’s slot, there are lots of other young arms eager for a chance to prove they belong and that’s only if Kenny doesn’t go out and land a veteran starter. The acquisition of Orlando Cabrera fills a hole at SS and solidifies the top of the lineup even if it does overload the left side of the field with seemingly 4 players to fill 2 positions. In addition, one bullpen slot has already been filled with a talented reliever in the form of Scott Linebrink and of course there’s still 2 months until pitchers and catchers report.

That’s the part that really confuses those of us with patience, those of us who still believe, those of us who still think nothing is over until it’s actually over. As I said before, it’s December… freaking… 8th… How can anyone give up on a team they root for that long before the season starts. How can anyone scream for the head of the GM who led the team to its first World Championship in 88 years just two short years ago. Where did this sense of entitlement come from? Where did this sense of win a championship or it just doesn’t matter what you do come from? How did we go from forgotten to unforgiving in such a brief period of time? Maybe that’s actually it. Sox fans are afraid they will be shoved back in the closet, shuttered and forgotten like the redheaded stepchild they once were. Aching to pay back the years of abuse and suddenly finding themselves facing more abuse the pride we all felt at being able to strut like champions has turned inward and angry as that strut turned to shuffles as the Sox faded to 4th while the flubbies made the playoffs last season. And suddenly our worse fears are revealed – return to your jail, Sox fans, do not pass go, do not collect $200. No hotels on Boardwalk or even on Baltic for you, NEXT! And the petulant child appears. I want more championships. I deserve more championships! I need more championships or I need someone to blame, someone to act out on, someone to work out our never to deep from the surface feelings of inadequacy. Bring us more pie, OR ELSE!

Well, I for one still have faith in the men who got us there recently and with any luck they’ll get us there again sooner rather than later. With a couple more changes, a return to career averages and a modicum of luck who knows it might even be this year and honestly that would be as sweet as it gets. Seeing all the naysayers eat their words and beg to be allowed back on the bandwagon they were so quick to jump off of. Still, either way you slice it, I’d rather be a Sox fan and watch the team fail than root for anyone else. That’s what being a fan is all about and I don’t need a sense of entitlement to make me feel differently…

Jim Laffer is a lifelong Chicago sports nut living on the North side of Chicago. He was raised in Hyde Park and graduated from UIC in December, 2000. He grew up in a house famous for developing insights into economic phenomenon. Thus he doesn't believe it when the White Sox start crying poor.

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