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View Full Version : Is the minor league presence in the Chicagoland area a good thing?


hsnterprize
06-01-2003, 03:07 PM
Here's another question that's worth thinking about and discussing. There are 5 minor league baseball teams in the Chicagoland area (i.e., Schaumburg Flyers, Kane County Cougars, Cook County Cheetahs, Joliet JackHammers, and Gary/SouthShore Railcats). I've seen previous discussions on this message board highlighting the good and bad of having minor league baseball around Chicago, and I'm just putting this topic on one specific thread. There's a poll added to this question, so feel free to answer as you wish. Here's my take...

Personally, I think it's a good idea. We all know that the best baseball is in the Major Leagues...preferably, although it isn't happening now, on the South Side. We also know that in order to see the Sox, or any MLB team nowadays, it's going to cost us a lot on money. Just look at the posts people write complaining about the prices for tickets, parking, food, and other baseball amenities that are considered a part of the baseball experience. And when our team is playing poorly, just look at the attendance. Other than the southern suburban population (and that's a very general demographic), there really isn't a lot of affluence that comes to the ballpark to make up for the "working man" who can't afford to pay an arm and a leg to go to a baseball game. And with all that's available out there fighting over our hard-to-work-for entertainment dollar, it's quite obvious that we Sox fans, unless we're true die-hards, aren't going to go to U.S. Cellular Field as often as we may have years ago. It's just simply too expensive to go to the park. There are ways around some of the high prices, such as 1/2 price nights, taking the CTA/Metra to the game, and bringing juice boxes to the park, but for the most part, there isn't any way to get around buying things like programs, scorecards, and food.

As for the minor league teams, I think it's good because for many fans, there's a team very close to them, or within reasonable distance. Not to mention, the players aren't the "prima donnas" you often find at major league parks, the prices for parking, food and tickets are well within reason, and the atmosphere at the parks is more than fan friendly. When was the last time you heard about some idiot running on the field and falling on an umpire at Elfstrom Stadium, or some knucklehead throwing a cell phone at an opposing player at Alexian Field? The biggest probelm we've heard about from a minor league baseball angle was about a coach for a visiting team tackling the mascot of the Cougars during a "race" between innings between he and a young fan. The man who wore the Cougars' mascot costume is suing the team that coach is with for damages. Anyway, as silly as that may seem, it's better than constantly seeing the image of a drunken Cub fan running the field and causing trouble for the Sox and their fans.

I don't think the presence of minor league teams in Chicagoland should affect how the big league teams are doing. If fans want to see the big league clubs, they'll go. It's as simple as that. We can complain about the Sox attendance all we want to, but it simply goes down to one thing...how badly do we want to see this team night after night? Is the 2003 Chicago White Sox worthy of our admiration after how they've been playing over the past couple of months? Now...don't get me wrong. I know it's still "early", although we know it's time for our team to get "on the ball" and start putting on some winning streaks. Teams like Kansas City and Minnesota could easily turn the corner and leave the Sox in the dust if the Sox and their management don't get on track. Still, it's good to know that there are other "options" as far as baseball in concerned, and it's also good to know our other options don't involve some team playing on the north side of the city.

MisterB
06-01-2003, 04:07 PM
It's good for baseball fans in general, but I believe having so many other professional baseball teams in the Chicagoland area directly affects the Sox in terms of attendance. No other market in the US has as much competition for the pro baseball dollar. The Chicago metro area, with a population of 9 million + has 7 pro teams (Sox, Cubs, 1 A ball and 4 independent). The only other market close to that many is NYC metro with a 21 million + population and 6 pro teams (Yanks, Mets, 2 rookie league and 2 independent). The Cubs attendance is largely built on casual fans who are unswayed by on-the-field performance. The Sox on the other hand have a much more fickle fan base, and many would rather shell out less money and see the Jackhammers or Cougars than spend the money and time to go all the way to see a mediocre Sox team play.

hsnterprize
06-01-2003, 04:41 PM
"The Sox on the other hand have a much more fickle fan base..."

Okay...I think I need to let you know that our team's fan base isn't "fickle" as portrayed by our local press and such. Of course, there aren't a lot of fans going to the ballpark, and in comparison to the Cubs, that does look like we're only "fair weather fans". But, let me point out there are plenty of posts, commentaries, and articles on why the fans aren't going to the ballpark. I know there are a lot of people who are making up silly excuses to avoid U.S. Cellular Field, but many of the fans who write on this website often tote such reasons as their disgust with upper management and poor play on the field for their reasons for not going to the ballpark.

The area around the ballpark isn't the affluent, trendy section of town that Wrigley Field is in. Now I know that Wrigleyville doesn't look all that great to the eye, and I also know that statistically, more crime takes place around Wrigley than the Cell. However, there are such strong perceptions about the areas around the ballpark that the trendy and affluent just simply don't come. Not to mention, the "working man" who often lives and goes to the Cell is being priced out year after year with higher parking, ticket prices, and other stuff. Not to mention, those folks who do shell out the money to come to the ballpark are simple not getting their money's worth. Maybe that's fine where you are, but here...that stuff doesn't fly. Chicago's south side is just too much of a working man's part of the city that anything short of reflecting the attitudes of the immediate populace isn't going to draw the average fans in. It's just that simple. And too many fans are upset about how Jerry Reinsdorf and company is running this team.

For example, do you think that after a performance like this afternoon's, when a struggling pitcher finally has a chance to break a personal worst losing streak, only to have his bullpen blow it late in the game, should be worthy of a large crowd coming to the ballpark the next day? Let me ask you this...how else do frustrated fans communicate their disgust with a team, the players, their management, and other aspects of the organization other than not showing up at the stadium and giving their hard-earned money to the team? I know it looks fickle, but there's more than meets the eye when you see a bunch of blue seats at the Cell. Trust me on that one.

Daver
06-01-2003, 04:48 PM
Want to write a really long book?

Write about the reasons Sox fans don't go to games.

TornLabrum
06-01-2003, 05:04 PM
Some time back there was a "Fallen Arches" column that correlated the Sox attendance loss with the attendance drawn by the Cougars, Flyers, Cheetahs, and I think perhaps even the Jackhammers. There is a strong correlation betweent he Sox attendance loss and their total annual attendance.

hsnterprize
06-01-2003, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by daver
Want to write a really long book?

Write about the reasons Sox fans don't go to games. You know any good publishers? I'd get some good research from this site alone, let alone going to the ballpark and talking with fans.

hsnterprize
06-01-2003, 05:13 PM
Originally posted by TornLabrum
Some time back there was a "Fallen Arches" column that correlated the Sox attendance loss with the attendance drawn by the Cougars, Flyers, Cheetahs, and I think perhaps even the Jackhammers. There is a strong correlation betweent he Sox attendance loss and their total annual attendance.
I've seen that piece, and I only have one question...why hasn't that affected Cubs fans? Why are 35,000 people going to Wrigley Field day after day...and these teams are still around? You mean to tell me that 5 minor league baseball teams only affect 1 MLB team in this city instead of both? Think about it...there are Cub fans who live in Joliet, Schaumburg, Midlothian, Geneva, and Gary, IN. However, they seem to not use the "minor league teams" as an excuse not to make to the trip to Clark and Addison. Why can't our fans have that same determination? I know part of the reason why Wrigley Field is constantly filled each day has to do with out-of-town tourists. I guess when there are tourists flocking Wrigley Field all the time, the Cubs front-office doesn't have to worry about losing attendance. If only the Sox had such good fortunes.

TornLabrum
06-01-2003, 05:14 PM
Originally posted by hsnterprize
I've seen that piece, and I only have one question...why hasn't that affected Cubs fans? Why are 35,000 people going to Wrigley Field day after day...and these teams are still around? You mean to tell me that 5 minor league baseball teams only affect 1 MLB team in this city instead of both? Think about it...there are Cub fans who live in Joliet, Schaumburg, Midlothian, Geneva, and Gary, IN. However, they seem to not use the "minor league teams" as an excuse not to make to the trip to Clark and Addison. Why can't our fans have that same determination? I know part of the reason why Wrigley Field is constantly filled each day has to do with out-of-town tourists. I guess when there are tourists flocking Wrigley Field all the time, the Cubs front-office doesn't have to worry about losing attendance. If only the Sox had such good fortunes.

I addressed that in the article, too. The Sox fancy themselves as a "family friendly" franchise. On the other hand, Wrigley Field has become the "World's Largest Beer Garden." The minor league clubs go after the same market as the Sox, not the Cubs.

hsnterprize
06-01-2003, 05:23 PM
Originally posted by TornLabrum
I addressed that in the article, too. The Sox fancy themselves as a "family friendly" franchise. On the other hand, Wrigley Field has become the "World's Largest Beer Garden." The minor league clubs go after the same market as the Sox, not the Cubs. I guess that makes sense. It's just troubling that it appears, and I stress APPEARS, that Cubs fans are more determined to support their team than we Sox fans are in supporting ours. Now, that's good in some ways considering we don't put up with mediocrity and BS from management like the Cubs fans do. I can tell you that if the Cubs weren't playing as well as they are now, fans will still go Wrigley. We already know that. I've already written about my frustration about how we fans are portrayed by the press and front office. Is it me, or is Jerry Reinsdorf trying to convert a middle-class, working man's demographic to more of a trendy, affleunt setting? Doesn't he realize that mentality just doesn't work?

TornLabrum
06-01-2003, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by hsnterprize
I guess that makes sense. It's just troubling that it appears, and I stress APPEARS, that Cubs fans are more determined to support their team than we Sox fans are in supporting ours. Now, that's good in some ways considering we don't put up with mediocrity and BS from management like the Cubs fans do. I can tell you that if the Cubs weren't playing as well as they are now, fans will still go Wrigley. We already know that. I've already written about my frustration about how we fans are portrayed by the press and front office. Is it me, or is Jerry Reinsdorf trying to convert a middle-class, working man's demographic to more of a trendy, affleunt setting? Doesn't he realize that mentality just doesn't work?

Good question. I think the reason Bill Veeck is so venerated by the average Sox fan is due to his realizing who his fan base was. The Sox traditionally have owned the south side and south suburbs. His surveys show that the fan base is in Addison. Maybe that's where his season ticket holders are coming from, but not his walk-up fan base. What he has done is priced a lot of the traditional fan base, young working class-lower-to-middle middle class fans out of the ball park. And they're going to Joliet to see the Jackhammers, Geneva to see the Cougars,

WhiteSoxWinner
06-01-2003, 05:47 PM
I think the presence of the minor leagues is a good thing. It allows folks to go see baseball at reasonable prices and have a good time. I love going out to see the Kane County Cougars. Me and my friends can go out there, pay NOTHING for parking, see quality baseball and get autographs from players very easily.

The Sox go for this big "Family Friendly" atmosphere, and trumpet it at every opportunity. Fundamentals at the Cell is not going to cut Family Friendly. Family Friendly is making it affordable to go to a game, get a souvenir, and see winning baseball. Every Friday and Saturday game they allow the fans on the field and get autographs.

However, not only is KC Family Friendly, it is fan friendly. You can buy a beer in the ninth inning and after the end of the game when there are fireworks. The beer is cheap. You can get a 20oz premium beer (Sam Adams, Labatts, Goose Island) for less than $5. I have never heard about someone running on the field at Elfstrom. You can buy a hat for $9. Most food is less than $4. That is the kind of friendly atmosphere that benefits everyone. It is why the Cougars on average outdraw some MLB teams.

The Sox could learn a lot by going out to Kane County and taking in a few games. KC knows how to be Fan Friendly, the Sox only give it lip service.

soxtalker
06-01-2003, 06:13 PM
What I don't understand is why the Sox and Cubs don't have one or two of the local minor league franchises here. I would think that it would be great for fans to be able to follow players that would eventually make the big-league team. But they almost seem to avoid it.

TornLabrum
06-01-2003, 11:37 PM
Originally posted by soxtalker
What I don't understand is why the Sox and Cubs don't have one or two of the local minor league franchises here. I would think that it would be great for fans to be able to follow players that would eventually make the big-league team. But they almost seem to avoid it.

In the '90s the Sox had a Class A club in South Bend for a few years. Later they had one in Burlington, IA. I think mainly it's who they can make a deal with.

Daver
06-01-2003, 11:40 PM
Originally posted by TornLabrum
In the '90s the Sox had a Class A club in South Bend for a few years. Later they had one in Burlington, IA. I think mainly it's who they can make a deal with.

Actually the minor league team has the right of first refusal,the Sox added the Great Falls team this year because they were not happy with the talent they had been supplied with from their former affiliate,whom I beleive was KC,but I may be wrong on that as I am going strictly from memory.

MisterB
06-02-2003, 12:12 AM
Originally posted by daver
Actually the minor league team has the right of first refusal,the Sox added the Great Falls team this year because they were not happy with the talent they had been supplied with from their former affiliate,whom I beleive was KC,but I may be wrong on that as I am going strictly from memory.

Great Falls was previously a Dodgers affilliate. Guess they haven't been drafting too well recently.

Daver
06-02-2003, 12:17 AM
Originally posted by MisterB
Great Falls was previously a Dodgers affilliate. Guess they haven't been drafting too well recently.

Thanx MisterB,the Dodgers haven't drafted well for a few years,their farm system is terrible,and Danny Evans has made it even worse.

doublem23
06-02-2003, 12:43 AM
Originally posted by soxtalker
What I don't understand is why the Sox and Cubs don't have one or two of the local minor league franchises here. I would think that it would be great for fans to be able to follow players that would eventually make the big-league team. But they almost seem to avoid it.

Well, I know the Sox have tried to bunch all their teams together in central North Carolina except for Birmingham and now Great Falls so that scouts can kind of stay in the same area to evaluate players.

white sox bill
06-02-2003, 08:02 AM
And don't forget about that AAA team @ 35th & Shields!

xil357
06-02-2003, 08:21 AM
Originally posted by soxtalker
What I don't understand is why the Sox and Cubs don't have one or two of the local minor league franchises here. I would think that it would be great for fans to be able to follow players that would eventually make the big-league team. But they almost seem to avoid it.

Major league teams on the whole would be wise to locate their minor league affiliates nearby to both facilitate scouting and to reduce travel costs to call up / send down players between levels. The Rangers are working on this; they have their AAA team in Oklahoma City and moved their AA team from Tulsa to Frisco (a northern 'burb of Dallas.) However, these kinds of movements on a large scale would seriously piss off lots of cities and fans in the Carolinas, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, the Dakotas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, upstate New York, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Wyoming, et. al ad infinitum. Too much politics involved.

However, it would be great for the Sox to make Joliet a single-A affiliate.

jortafan
06-02-2003, 10:12 AM
Originally posted by white sox bill
And don't forget about that AAA team @ 35th & Shields!

the way they've been playing lately, whatmakes you think they're good enough for AAA?

TornLabrum
06-02-2003, 07:35 PM
Originally posted by xil357
Major league teams on the whole would be wise to locate their minor league affiliates nearby to both facilitate scouting and to reduce travel costs to call up / send down players between levels. The Rangers are working on this; they have their AAA team in Oklahoma City and moved their AA team from Tulsa to Frisco (a northern 'burb of Dallas.) However, these kinds of movements on a large scale would seriously piss off lots of cities and fans in the Carolinas, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, the Dakotas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, upstate New York, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Wyoming, et. al ad infinitum. Too much politics involved.

However, it would be great for the Sox to make Joliet a single-A affiliate.

Joliet is in the Northern League, which is not a part of the major leagues' farm systems.