Originally Posted by TDog
I have always believed the consequences of the White Sox move to WFLD has been exaggerated. WGN went from broadcasting a few home games, mostly day games because WGN didn't want to interfere with its prime-time syndication schedule, to broadcasting their entire schedule, except for the West Coast trips, on a station that was more difficult to get. At the same time, the White Sox were becoming one of the worst teams in baseball. Moving to Chanel 32 didn't make the White Sox bad. The Sox failed to draw 1 million in 1967 when they were a bad weekend away from a trip to the World Series, and they would have drawn less than half a million in their 106-loss season if some of the games had been running on WGN.
The baseball moves made by White Sox management (including playing some home games in Milwaukee in 1968 and 1969) had much more to do with the Cubs becoming the more popular team in Chicago than WGN as the Cubs were becoming the fashionable team to watch across the country, stacked with hitting and pitching and primed to return to the World Series after almost a quarter century of frustration. Baseball Digest picked the Cubs to go to the World Series before the 1969 season (while picking the Mets to finish last).
WGN always had more stake in the Cubs than the White Sox. The White Sox were the second team on WGN in 1967. WGN didn't cause people not to go games in 1970. I've heard the thing about the kids coming home from school and turning on the end of the Cubs games and growing up to be fans, but that would have happened if WGN had continued to broadcast only Cubs and White Sox home games, with the Sox television schedule limited because they played a lot of night games during the week.
I can't imagine any realistic scenario where it would have been the Sox instead of the Cubs being the Superstaion darling team in the early days of heavy cable saturation, when A&E was still showing artsy ballets and classical concerts. I imagine White Sox baseball on WGN might have been very close to the abbreviated schedule ran in the early Reinsdorf years when both WGN and the White Sox opted out of the third year of their three-year contract.
The television moves by the White Sox over the years (some simply being ideas ahead of their time) haven't worked out as well as management had projected. But providing more games on free TV, as the White Sox did in 1968, wasn't a bad idea. And the alternative wasn't as rosy for the White Sox as many consider them to be.
In the small town I where I lived, I was able to watch MAYYBEEEEE one White Sox game a month during my fan formative years (early '80's). On the other hand, I was able to watch just about every cub and Brave game, which I did ... a lot. The only reason I am a Sox fan now is because my father is a Sox fan and would only take me to games at Comiskey. That and 1983 was really my first year of paying attention to what was happening. Without having the scientific data in front of me, I am pretty sure that there is a generation of cub fans that didn't have the wise presence I had to steer them in the right direction.
I rooted for the cubs just as much back then. It wasn't until I started getting ripped on by my cub fan friends that I became a salty hater. The Braves have also always been my 2nd team. It is not a coincidence.