I am a White Sox fan. I grew up watching and rooting for this team. I still miss Old Comiskey Park. With that being said I will also add that it pains me, and I take no joy in, writing this article. The White Sox have become irrelevant.
There are multiple reasons for this assertion. Some of which I will cover here.
1. The roster and on-field product
For years the White Sox organization has tried to convince us of how smart they are using a half assed approach. What is this approach you ask? The approach is simple.
• Bidding on high-priced talent at a lower price point than other organizations and then telling the fans that the bid was “competitive”, even though it was a lowball offer.
• Being butthurt by the agent who represents several high-profile and high talent players (Scott Boras and Kenny Williams) and refusing to deal with him.
• The inability to read the waiver wire (Kenny Williams with Alex Rios)
• Choosing to shop in the K-Mart Blue Light Special aisle hoping that the past their prime player du jour (Canseco, Andruw Jones, Jimmy Rollins, Manny Ramirez, and the like) can regain their previous form.
• Having a “Kenny guy” (Dave Wilder) accepting kickbacks from international players signing bonuses, leading to a conviction and prison sentence for Mr. Wilder. Oddly enough Kenny Williams still has a job.
• Devotion to obvious poor choices to manage the team (Terry Bevington and Robin Ventura are two examples).
• Kenny Williams and his constant big swinging dick mentality. I give him credit for trying to be competitive but wonder how he keeps his job.
• The drafting of players. How many drafted players have made an impact since the days of Larry Himes drafting, in succession, McDowell, Ventura, Thomas, and Fernandez. Remember drafting, not a free agent or acquiring in trade. Chris Sale (1st round) and Mark Buehrle (37th round (?)) are the only two that come to mind.
2. The Ballpark experience.
Now I could stop there and be rightfully angry, but sadly the White Sox problems extend far beyond that. The ballpark experience leaves a lot to be desired as well. Some prime examples of this include:
• Allowing people who buy 500 level tickets to sit in 100 level seats that Season Ticket Holders pay a lot of money for. I have broached this subject on numerous occasions with the team and one day a member of the security staff told me that they were told to allow people to sit there so the park looks fuller. Way to protect your fan base that actually pays for good seats.
• This PDF tickets. I have had people attempting to sit in my seats using tickets that had been photo shopped with a different seat number, in this case my seat.
• The fee that Season Ticket Holders have to pay to get their season tickets printed. I am a fan who likes collecting tickets, but if I want a hardcopy ticket it costs $50 on top of what I pay for season tickets to get them. On top of that they are the crappy Ticketmaster tickets. If you are going to charge extra why can’t you at least do a little solid for the fans and make them nice.
• The security checkpoints to get in the ballpark become a disaster when there is a crowd. Nothing like putting your best foot forward when you have people there. The wait times during the Cub series was an absolute joke and just add another point to a shitty ballpark experience driving fans away.
• The fact that for some teams (Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs) the crowd is more fans of the visitors than the Sox. If this doesn’t concern the White Sox front offices then frankly all hope is lost.
• The general apathy of this organization to convey accurate information. The scoreboard questions and stats can be an absolute joke at times with obvious errors and omissions. There are also examples of incorrect dates for “signature” Sox events and history. I have attached a couple on the next couple of pages illustrating my point:
The White Sox wore shorts in 1976, not 1979.
The Dates for Soxfest 2016 were January 29 – 31. BTW, this screen was displayed on the screen while waiting for the opening ceremonies to begin Soxfest 2016.
The White Sox found a way to git Friday – Sunday into 2 days. July 17 – 18?
If the staff can’t, or doesn’t care to, convey accurate information for their product how can they expect the fans to be enthusiastic?
3. Is hope lost?
I will be frank. I think all hope is lost. If the Sox really want to win the fans back, they need to win. Not only win but make winning a standard. A simple stat will explain what I mean by sustained winning. The White Sox have won five (5) playoff appearances (all division titles (1983, 1993, 2000, 2005, and 2008) since division play began in 1969. The Cubs, nicknamed the loveable losers, have made four straight playoff appearances, including the NLCS three years in a row and a World Series title. The White Sox have NEVER made back to back playoff appearances, which just further illustrates the half-ass approach this team has always taken. They have hoped to catch “lightning in a bottle”, and they did in 2005. This is not how you build a loyal fan base. This team has not had a winning record since 2012, even when they were trying to compete in 2013 – 2016. In that time the Cubs have lapped them. The Cubs have the media on their side and a slew of celebrity fans, and wanna be fans, like Bill Murray and Eddie Vedder. Wrigley Field has always been billed as an experience and the winning just jacked it up to another level. The White Sox act like they are doing you a favor by letting you come see their games. Sorry that mindset doesn’t work anymore.
4. What can be done?
So, what can be done? If the team has ANY hopes of becoming relevant in this city they not only need to need to build a sustained winner, they need to improve the ballpark experience. What are some of the steps they need to take:
• Sign talented players. I think they have to go hard and all-in for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. My choice is Harper and it not only has to do with on-field performance. Josh Donaldson CANNOT be the primary piece of free agent signing. He has to be a complimentary piece. If you frame all of your free agent moves around signing him, you have basically repeated the sins of the past. I say that because that means that you did not sign Harper or Machado AND you will not be making a move for Arenado after the 2019 off-season.
• Improve the ballpark experience by making Season Ticket Holders feel special. This can include:
o Dedicated entry for Season Ticket Holders with guaranteed giveaway items for them.
o Early entry for Season Ticket Holders so they can watch batting practice. This can be done through Gate 1 and have security standing at the entry to the lower bowl from the outfield area.
o Embrace the fans. Make sure the fans know they are appreciated. Do more things like the White Sox Prom held on the Wednesday before Soxfest 2018. Have a Christmas party for the fans, you can use the Stadium Club, Scout Section, or Chisox Bar and Grill.
o LISTEN to the fans. You may be able to find some things that may make the ballpark experience better.
The team has a long journey ahead of it. I hope they realize how bad things have gotten. I tend to think they don’t because things have gotten to this point.
Feel free to contact me with any compliments, criticisms, or any other thing you can think of.
-Aloha Mr. Hand