The White Sox staff made this by far and away the best SoxFest that I have gone to at the Hilton. It seemed like they did take some advice from the fans and tightened up the leash on some of the bullshit that ran rampant at other ones. With the team becoming more and more popular, it will continue to be a popular event, as it is very cost effective and the rewards far outweigh the pitfalls. I made a point on Saturday morning to let one of the leaders of security know how well Friday went. Not surprisingly he said thanks and I asked him if other fans had come up to him and said the same thing. What he said says a lot about our fanbase. We are a wild bunch, from all walks of life, but as he said too, while we are quick to point out the wrong, we are also quick to point out when something was well done. So good job White Sox security and staff. The event was ran really well.
The players seemed to really absorb the vibe of the fans which seems to be a really high level of optimism. It wasn’t like this a few years ago, people were not this excited to see the latest cheap version of a team to take the field behind Sale and Abreu. As we have said in the 108 hundreds of times, we really like the core of this team and like watching this team COMPETE. Cause they don’t quit, which is a tired refrain, but is so fucking true. Most players signed all the time.
Good chance that if you are reading this, you are a fanatic of the Chicago White Sox. There are levels of fandom, but as I have always said, even though I went to 76 games last year (average about 50+ games per year) there are even bigger fans than myself out there. I just happen to be in a situation that allows (downright makes it hard not to) to attend several games a week. SoxFest is always a blast talking to a wide array of fans, young and old, it’s fun. I love that the most, the interactions are genuine and the kudos that we get as the 108 group is a ball.
Friday night with our core fans (that could make it), seemed like Thanksgiving. Opening Day will be like Christmas. It’s an odd little family. The hugs I pass out are real. The thanks I say are true. It feels good and that’s why we do this damn thing. So thanks to you guys.
The Entitled Fans.
There is a group of guys/girls that are far deep into the grain, that really, really, really think the Sox owe them. Wednesday night, the Sox threw a party for Season Ticket Holders which included FREE FOOD, FREE BEER AND FREE AUTOGRAPHS. Big thanks to #DannyUps for getting me in. But what was the complaint that I saw over and over? Bad timing. Food lines were too long. Players were only there for a short time. Yo, most Wednesdays I ain’t hanging with Michael Kopech much less getting a ball signed by him or even meeting his reality show girlfriend. All the while drinking massive amounts of FREE Baderbrau. I’m easy, I get it, but jeesh, the event was free and awesome.
The Crazy Fans.
Lining up for SoxFest is a job. On the 3 days that I was there, I got there early as heck. Friday night is a great night to knock off a few guys that will be harder to get to on Saturday, so being one of the first folks is a good call. Every year though, people get there earlier and earlier. People started lining up on THURSDAY. That’s crazy. Because it was so well run this year, there wasn’t the initial push by fans, but I did see several “kids” run over anyone to get another autograph. Poor Blake Rutherford was mobbed in the kids batting area by a ton of people and he seemed to be uncomfortable. I stay back and let them come to me in these situations, but I am ok to miss a few graphs. Not everyone is like that.
#BobblesJim sent #WallyMoney and myself this on Monday –
To which Tim Anderson responded with –
I mean CLEARLY this guy doesn’t care about the White Sox or Tim Anderson! CLEARLY. This is the kind of guy (which there are several at the Fest) that make it bad for EVERYONE. I, myself, don’t really ask for shit, just the signature. Some guys love that shit, I’m just not one of them. I have had some bad experiences with athletes, but I don’t call them out on Twitter.
I know several guys have written “Game Used” on their items, especially when you PAY for it, but I see it from time to time at SoxFest. I understand Tim Anderson not adding that inscription to his “friend’s” bat, as he doesn’t know if that was his bat. I am guessing it is, but who cares? You want your item signed like you want? Pay up. Don’t go to a fan fest and demand shit. That’s classless. Speaking of Bryant, at the Cubs convention, you had to PAY extra to get him to sign. Guy I know paid an EXTRA $300 to get his autograph. Cubs sure know how to milk their fans!
Basically at SoxFest you get unlimited autographs for under $200 (if you only go for 2 days, under $100). That is a discount compared to an individual signing where these guys will get about $50 to $75 per item. So take what you get and move on. Half of these guys are selling or trading these items anyways, and that brings us to our next ugly……
Michael Kopech vs EVERYONE.
On Sunday, Michael Kopech had clearly had enough of signing multiples for the same person. So much so he decided to personalize almost EVERY AUTOGRAPH at his 9am signing. While not a huge deal to most people, it is a jag move by a guy who hasn’t even been called up yet. Are people selling that multiple online for a few bucks? Sure. Does he deserve his cut? Maybe, but doesn’t he get paid to do what he does? I will argue to the death that athletes deserve every fucking penny that they can get while they play professional sports. I haven’t seen a team go broke yet, so they can afford it. If my autograph was worth a few bucks, would it piss me off to see someone else getting some money off of it? Yes. But it wouldn’t piss me off as much if I was poised to make millions a year playing a game that I love.
I guess the problem with the personalization is two fold. It looks weird in a collection with tons of other balls that are not personalized. The other issue is what happens when this memorabilia is passed to the next generation? I am guessing my daughters aren’t gonna give 2 hoots about most of my stuff so hopefully they will be able to sell it to someone so they can buy something they want. Better hope the buyer’s name is Jacob or that ball has very little value. Which kinda sucks. I can’t even trade it to someone who might want it more than me. I get it though, I am an “adult” getting an autograph, but even kids got the ‘To: So and So” from Mr. Kopech. One guy in line denied Mr. Kopech as he didn’t want it personalized, not sure how I feel about that, but it’s up to the individual I guess.
I will say that Wednesday he didn’t personalize my ball. He didn’t personalize the pics that #WallyMoney and #BobblesJim printed out from Wed and got signed over the weekend by both him and his GF. The word was he was checking items on Ebay and seeing stuff. I seriously doubt he was, but maybe one of his guys was. If I made that kinda money, I wouldn’t give 2 fucks about Ebay.
Over the years, getting to know Ron Kittle, I haven’t seen him turn anyone down asking for requests. Hell, he just had hand surgery and signed all week for Sox fans. I was denied an autograph by him many years ago as he won’t sign his ’83 rookie card unless you make a $20 donation to his charity. He’s raised tens of thousands of dollars just signing THAT CARD, so I get it. He also denied me a silver graph on the side of his bobblehead as he only signs the bill of the hat in black sharipe. While it is a good way to tell that it is authentic, it really doesn’t display well, but far be it from me to complain about how he wants to sign my piece.
After his session was over, we walked over to Kittle to get some stuff signed. He had told #WallyMoney not to wait in line and he’d do it after. We walked up, he waved us through and he signed a bunch of stuff for us and for other guys who came up after us. Apparently a guy didn’t want Kittle to sign the brim of his bobblehead and denied him too! Which Ron didn’t really care for. I would think mostly because he was doing something above and beyond than what he was required to do and was met with a negative response from a fan. I just want my bobble signed, I don’t care where the guys put it. That’s me, but I don’t fault folks for not wanting to do it my way. Paid signing, way different, but not at a fan fest, of the team you love.
Moral Of The Story
We’re all human. It’s hard to judge someone on one day of their life. Especially a day where the demands come from all angles. If this shit pisses you off, maybe you need to relax. Especially if you aren’t even the guy getting “slighted” but feel the need to tweet about it for all the world to see.
We’re getting closer and closer to having a team to be fully proud of. The seats will be filled, lines will be long and we’ll have new things to be pissed about. Let’s enjoy these last few years like an indie band in the 90’s that didn’t break till their 4th record. You had those 3 records to be in on something special before the bandwagon showed up.