The 108 Interview Series – Write Sox
Here at the 108, it is our job….our duty to bring to you the great personalities of White Sox twitter, either via tweet / photo / video or blog post. In continuing with the tradition of bringing you “the goods” from White Sox twitter we have our interview with one of the OG’s (the originals) of White Sox twitter, the legend Tom Fornelli aka Write Sox.
Favorite Game That You Were At:
It was Game 1 of the 2005 ALDS. It was the end of April 2005 when I began telling friends that I thought the White Sox had a real shot of winning it all that season. There was just a feeling about the team, and even if I knew the hot start wouldn’t last forever, I was just impressed. Then, of course, the entire season happened, and even though they won the division and reached the playoffs, I was suddenly very nervous. The White Sox just don’t make the playoffs very often! And in my lifetime my memories of White Sox playoff berths were losing to the Blue Jays in six in 93 and then getting swept by the Mariners in 2000.
Now, here they were facing the defending champs, and I was worried about the potential heartbreak coming my way. Those worries faded fast, as the White Sox kicked the crap out of Boston that day, winning 14-2 and lighting up Matt Clement for 5 runs in the first inning. Even Scotty Pods homered in that game, his first all season (the second would be more memorable), and it was during that game I became fully convinced we were gonna win the whole fucking thing.
Favorite All Time Player That Doesn’t Have a Statue On the Concourse:
Robin Ventura. I will always be angry at him for becoming the manager of this team and giving me a reason to dislike him because he and Frank Thomas were the two players I idolized growing up. And as great as Frank was, I was more hurt when Robin left as a free agent to sign with the Mets than I was when Frank left after 2005. At least Frank won a ring here.
Favorite Drink and Dinner at the Park:
I’m a basic bitch. Give me a Miller Lite (or a Modelo now) and a hot dog with onions and mustard.
Favorite Place to Sit:
It used to be anywhere, but the older I’ve gotten, the fewer games I go to. These days I’m more a quality than a quantity guy, and there are usually some seats available on StubHub in the first or second row right behind the visitor’s on-deck circle that I enjoy. They can suck when Albert Pujols decides to park his giant ass right in front of you and block your view, but other than that they’re great. You learn things like Mike Trout is happy to move a foot to the left if you ask him to.
My favorites are the current home whites with the black pinstripes. I hate the 83s.
The Sox have had some outstanding ones in recent years, and I think the Hawk alarm clock was the most inspired, but I’m a sucker for bobbleheads.
Favorite Theme Night:
I guess I’ll say Dog Day. I would never bring my dog to the park because the last thing I want to do while trying to watch a baseball game is worry about what my dog is trying to do while I’m watching a baseball game, but I don’t mind when other people have their dogs there.
What irks you the most about White Sox fans?:
The insecurity. Yes, we are the other baseball team in town. Yes, we are the smaller fan base. Who fucking cares? Why do we care? Why do we get bothered by it? I fall victim to it too sometimes. I wish we could all reach a point where we truly stopped caring what anybody else thinks about us and focus all of our anger in the right direction at all times.
What is the worst part of being a Sox fan?:
You mean aside from rooting for a franchise that rarely experiences success, and has to do everything on their terms and nobody else’s? Nothing.
Worst part of the game day experience?:
My only problem with the game day experience is when there are too many other people experiencing it with me. Some people complain about the lack of attendance at White Sox games. I love it. Leave me the hell alone and let me watch a baseball game.
What really grinds your gears?:
People who treat Rick Hahn like he’s accomplished anything. The team has gone 419-553 (.431) since he became the full-time GM, but since he was able to trade great players on affordable contracts for highly-rated prospects, he’s looked at as if he’s done something. Find me a GM in baseball who couldn’t have traded Sale, Quintana and Eaton for good players. It’s like congratulating somebody for selling a house they inherited for market value. They ignore that Hahn had those players on his team and couldn’t put a winning team around him. I see fans with Rick’s face on t-shirts, and it blows my mind. You don’t see Bulls fans wearing GarPax shirts, yet they’ve done far more than Hahn ever has.
Least Favorite White Sox player of all time:
Jaime Navarro. The Sox signed him to a $20 million deal before 1997. A month earlier they had signed Albert Belle to the biggest deal in club history. Belle lived up to the hype but had the clause in his deal where he had to be a top three paid player in MLB, and instead of spending an additional $4 million, the Sox let him leave. Navarro didn’t have that option. He was here for four years, and he sucked so bad. They traded him away to save money, but I’m convinced that Jaime Navarro is the reason Reinsdorf won’t spend big money on free agents. Jaime Navarro is the reason Reinsdorf wouldn’t guarantee Machado more than $250 million. He was worried he’d be stuck paying a shitty player like he had to with Jaime Navarro.
Most memorable experience as a White Sox fan:
How can it be anything other than 2005? Sure, every season that passes since proves that it was a Black Swan event, but they still can’t take it away from us. My friends and I showered each other in champagne out in the street that night. Times were had. Memories were fuzzy.
Ballpark experience, how could it be better?:
Make sure it’s between 65 and 80 degrees and sunny every day. Other than that, I don’t really care. I’m there for the game, so a better team would be nice, but while I like the bars they’ve added to the park, I’m not sure I’d care as much about them if the team didn’t suck.
Best Sox Park hack?:
It’s not really a hack as much as it’s a recommendation. Go to a game alone on a weekday afternoon. Hell, just go to a game alone. I did it for the first time a few years ago, and no offense to friends, family, and other loved ones, but there’s no better way to go to the game. Not having to worry about anybody else while you’re there is terrific. For me, anyway.
What brings you back for every game?:
It’s nothing specific. Like I said earlier, I don’t go nearly as often as I used to, and I don’t plan on going to a single game this season. I prefer watching the games on television because I’m a nerd that likes to follow the pitching sequences and those kinds of things that you can’t pick up on at the park. Still, going to the game is usually fun, but I’m currently in a state where I don’t feel like giving this franchise my money until it does something to earn it. The charity is over. So I guess the answer is behaving like a franchise that wants to win games more than it wants to win the bottom line will be what brings me back for every game.
Feelings on the wave?:
I hate it. I have never participated in a wave, nor will I ever participate in a wave. That said, I no longer get as mad about them as I used to. The people doing it have been forced to watch the same shitty team I have the last few years, and we all deal with our grief in different ways.
Which Gate is your favorite to enter the park from?:
I guess it would be Gate 5 since I usually park over there and that’s the closest gate.
How Early Do You Get To Games?:
I’m always early no matter where I’m going. I would say I typically get there about 30 minutes before first pitch. Gives me time to acquire beverages and food without feeling like I’ll miss anything. Plus, there’s just something peaceful about the park at that time.
What Do You Bring To Games?:
My cell phone, my keys and my wallet.
How Many Games Do You Go To Each Year?:
It used to be between 5 and 15. Now I’d say between 1 and 5. This year, none.
Section 108 Questions
What is your favorite baseball word?:
What is your least favorite baseball word?:
What get’s you excited about the White Sox?:
Anybody who follows me on Twitter knows how pissed off I am this spring about developments or the lack of them, but when Opening Day rolls around, I’ll be just as excited about it as I was when I was a kid because this is the one team left that causes me to feel real human emotions. My job has eroded a lot of the living and dying with a team that many fans experience. Like, with the Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks, when they do well, it’s great, but when they suck it doesn’t hurt me. I can laugh it off. When the White Sox suck, it hurts my soul. So when Opening Day comes around, and technically anything is still possible, I’ll be excited. Once May arrives…
What makes you sad about the White Sox?:
The realization that things aren’t going to change. This is a franchise that clearly wanted a player. They wanted this player so severely that they considered trading away some of their top prospects to get him for a year in hopes of convincing him this is where he wanted to be. They even brought in this player’s brother-in-law and best friend to make them a more attractive destination. But then, when it came time to put up or shut up, they decided to draw a line in the sand. It was the strangest fucking thing. You were willing to do all of that, but you couldn’t guarantee a couple of extra years and dollars? This after you spent the last year telling your fans that you were ready to step up to the table when the opportunity presented itself? That makes me sad. It’s not that they lost. I can lose. It’s that they chose to lose, proving yet again that their willingness to do what it takes to win has a limit. So we have to wait for another anomaly like 2005.
What sound or noise at the ballpark do you love?:
Fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt.
What sound or noise at the ballpark do you hate?:
Anybody who whistles or whoops or whatever. If you’re gonna be noisy, at least say something funny to make me laugh.
What is your favorite Hawkism?:
“Well, I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if Player X is the best I’ve ever seen at Doing Random Thing, but I don’t remember anybody better.”
Why did you kill @NotHawk?:
A few reasons. The biggest was that it just wasn’t fun anymore. I started the account on a lark because I always had this strange idea of a dark, sinister Hawk away from the ballpark, and I thought I would put that character out there. And it was a lot of fun, and everyone liked it. But it’s like writing a TV show. After a while, you’re just doing the same tropes over and over again, and it loses its entertainment value. I write for a living, and I’m a creative person, and I approached the account that way. Once it stopped being a creative outlet and felt like something I was obligated to do just because people enjoyed it. And I’m glad they did, but all good things have to come to an end. Plus the anonymity was gone. Nobody knew who I was for like the first year, and then I let a select few people know. I think the first person I confessed to was Scott Merkin. Then others were told or at least figured it out, and once that anonymity was gone, it lost some luster as well. I did finally find out from somebody in the organization of Hawk was aware of its existence, and it turns out he was, but that he “didn’t get it.” I like to think he did, but he didn’t want to admit it because the character was actually dead-on.
If you revived @NotHawk for a day, what would be your first tweet?:
Anybody know where I can get an eight-ball in Granger?
We aren’t the biggest college football fans here in the 108, but we do fucking love the Bottom 25, where did the idea come from and do you ever get any weird interactions with fans related to the column?:
It was a pretty simple idea, really. College sports all have top 25 polls, but there aren’t any rankings for the worst teams. ESPN had been doing a Bottom 10 for a while, but it wasn’t an actual ranking as much as it was a column that allowed the writer to write whatever they wanted to. I have a ranking system that’s based on performance (wins, losses, stats, all that shit) that I rank every single team with, so I figured why not do a weekly column ranking the 25 worst teams every week? People will like it. It’s become more popular than I anticipated. As for fan interactions, yeah, because fans of bigger schools don’t get it. They aren’t used to seeing their teams considered awful because they play in the SEC or whatever. So, early in the season when there are fewer results to work with, and things can be wonky, an 0-1 Georgia (or whoever) could be in The Bottom 25 if they played poorly enough in that one game, and that leads to a lot of angry people in my mentions and inbox. But what might be weirder is the fans of the truly awful programs who root for their team to win The Bottom 25 title. At the end of the day, all any of us want is for our teams to win something.
You release picks on your twitter, a lot of people don’t know, but BeefLoaf and Chorizy were pretty serious advantage players in the not too distant past, so the question is, do you bet half Kelly or are you a real man and bet full Kelly?
How come you haven’t been writing about the White Sox on your blog?
Well, from mid-August to mid-January it’s just tough for me to find the time due to work. Then, after the college football season ends, I like to take some time to decompress. I’m writing five features a week during the season, as well as a few other stories on anything that might come up. It’s tiring! It’s hard to use your brain so much. I used to work 40 hours a week at “real jobs” that involved using my actual body, and I was never as tired physically than as I am mentally during a college football season. Plus, honestly, there’s nothing I can’t say on the blog that I can’t share just as easily on Twitter. That’s not to say I won’t write on the site this season; it’s just I never created the site as a place where I’m going to sit down and write. It’s just there if I need it.
One on One basketball game, who wins you or BarstoolBigCat?:
I do. Big Cat can’t shoot. He’d be the first to tell you that. He doesn’t move. He just rebounds. I can shoot. I can dribble. I’m the same size as he is, so he has no advantage on me there. I’d wreck him.
WhiteSox hypothetical, you can either have a new owner with a big bankroll (think John Henry), but you are stuck with Rick Hahn for the entire time OR you have to keep Jerry Reinsdorf, but you can go out and get Andrew Friedman or Billy Beane or whoever you want to GM, whatchu taking?:
Give me the money. Every team in baseball has a “smart GM” now, but for some reason, it’s the teams that spend the money who are more consistently successful. If Jerry Reinsdorf tells Rick Hahn to guarantee Machado $350 million, Hahn’s a genius right now.
Who wins in a fight, you or Chris Rongey?:
Well, I’d never underestimate an opponent in a fight, but I have to say I would win the fight because if I don’t think I can win the fight, I’m not going to win the fight. That said, I haven’t been in a real fight in like 15 years. For all I know Rongey’s roaming the streets of St. Louis picking fights to stay in game shape.
What is the current best “@Not” twitter account right now?:
I don’t know. I mute them all.
Do you have any favorite #108ing stories you’d like to share, ballpark or otherwise?:
Most aren’t for public consumption. One of the least damning stories involves going to a game when I was like 22 with a friend and his younger brother. The game was in a rain delay, so we just sat in his van and finished a 30-pack of Old Style between the three of us while waiting it out. My friend, who was driving, only had six cuz he was driving! The other 24 were split between the kid brother (he was like 19 I think) and me. The first pitch wasn’t until around 9:30 pm after the delay, and we made our way into the park and sat in right field by the visitor’s bullpen, very drunk, and very loud. The game ended some time after midnight. I don’t remember who they played that night. I don’t remember who won. I don’t remember going home. But I remember the rain delay.
What’s your greatest fear about the “rebuild”?:
My fear about the rebuild is the same as it was before it began. That the prospects wouldn’t pan out, that many of them would suffer injuries, and that when the time came for it to happen, the Sox wouldn’t spend the money needed to supplement the youth. Hope those things don’t happen!
The thing about rebuilds these days is that with both the Cubs and Astros winning titles recently, fans seem to think it’s as easy as Rebuilding = Championships. And that’s not how it works, nor has it ever been. Sports are filled with teams who rebuilt and never won shit. Hell, the Royals were rebuilding for 30 years before they finally won a World Series. Rebuilding doesn’t guarantee anything but a few shitty years of baseball.
What is there about this team that excites you the most?:
It’s gotta be Eloy at this point, right? What else is there?
Give us a #HotTake about the rebuild.:
Eloy will be the only great player to emerge from the process, and even then, he’ll do so as a DH so he’ll be of limited value.
Favorite White Sox Twitter Account (Besides @fromthe108) and why?:
The way I use Twitter has changed a lot in recent years. It used to be for entertainment. Now it’s just a vehicle for information gathering and sharing thoughts or bad jokes. So I guess my favorite White Sox account is Fegan’s?
Person from White Sox Twitter that you’d most like to meet and why?:
If I ever get back out to the park, I’ll hang out with you guys for a few innings. Other than that, I’ve pretty much met everyone I’ve ever felt the need to meet. The only person left on the list is Margalus. We’ve been on these White Sox blogger streets together for over a decade but never actually met.
Favorite Non-White Sox Twitter Account and why?:
@TomFornelli. He’s handsome and funny.
What do you like best about @fromthe108?:
The general lack of giving a fuck. Like, you give a fuck, but you don’t give a fuck. Does that make sense?
Favorite White Sox related blog or podcast and why?:
SoxMachine is my favorite blog. No offense to anybody else, as I read nearly all of them, but SoxMachine is the one I read the most regularly. Jim’s always been a writer I admire. I don’t always agree with him, but whether I agree with what he’s saying, I usually love the way he says it. As for podcasts, I don’t listen to a lot of sports-related podcasts to begin with. Pardon My Take is the only one I listen to regularly, and I’m not even sure that’s a sports podcast as much as it’s a parody of sports radio. All the other podcasts I listen to regularly are related to things outside of sports. I work in sports. I consume sports on TV. I am on a couple of sports related podcasts myself. When it comes to podcasts, I don’t want sports.
What is your favorite alcoholic drink for #108ing? Be specific and feel free to go with more than one if you need to. What about your favorite beer style?:
I’m simple. Beer. My favorite beer is Miller High Life. If I want to class things up, I’ll take a whiskey neat. I drink Maker’s Mark more often than anything, but I’m open to different brands. Just not Jim Beam. Had one of those teenaged experiences where I drank too much Beam one night, and now the smell of it makes me think of vomiting.
Favorite cut of Steak? Prepared?:
I like a New York Strip, medium rare.
Gimme an “Uncle Rico” moment from your prior sports playing past.:
One time in a Little League game a girl I had a crush on showed up to one of my games with my sister (we’re twins). Before my at bat I noticed her standing behind the backstop watching. She said, “let’s go Tom” or something to that effect. I then proceeded to hit the first pitch roughly 350 feet. The fences were at like 250. The ball soared majestically over them. I not only admired it, but took my time making my way around the bases, and then once I passed third I proceeded to high-step it home like Deion Sanders returning a punt. The umpire was more than a little upset with my shenanigans but did not toss me from the game because you can’t toss a player for being awesome. The next day at school I asked the girl out on a date. She said no. I guess she didn’t like awesome either.
Where would you take @ChiPartyAunt out on a date?:
No, but I’d take her home.
Favorite performance-enhancing drug?:
Who do you hate more Jim Belushi or John Cusack?:
I don’t hate either. But I find Belushi to be less appealing.
What Other Chicago Teams Do You Enjoy:
Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks. I’d like to enjoy the Fire, but they haven’t given me a reason to.
Favorite Chicago Sports History Moment:
Favorite All-Time Sox Broadcaster:
It has to be Hawk. He narrated most of my life.
Any Stories About Running Into or Meeting White Sox Players? Other Chicago Athletes?:
Due to my profession and my desire to remain trustworthy in said profession, I cannot say.
It has changed so many times during my lifetime. Right now it is Run The Jewels.
What is your favorite song?:
Right now it is Shallows from the A Star Is Born soundtrack. Next week it will be something else.
Favorite TV Show (or Netflix or HBO or whatever the fuck)?:
Of shows currently airing, it’s Game of Thrones or Better Call Saul. Of all time it’s the earlier seasons of The Simpsons.
Married or Single? Looking for a GF?:
Not married but I’ve been with the same woman for a decade and we’ve lived together for the last six of those years. So I’m married, but not legally.
Do you remember your first Sox game?:
No, because I was not yet a year old.
What Player had the greatest impact on you?:
What was the happiest day watching the Sox?:
Game 4 of the 2005 World Series.
What was the saddest day watching the Sox?:
Game 6, 1993 ALCS.
What do you do for work? If you could be or do anything else – what?:
I write about sports. If I could do anything outside the world of sports, I’d probably be a broke ass comedian.
If you could live in any other time, when might that be?:
I’m good here and now, to be honest.
If you could have dinner with five White Sox Players, past and present, who would they be?:
Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, and Mark Buehrle.
If you could change one thing in your past, what might that be?:
I wouldn’t have gone home with Chicago Party Aunt.
What are you most proud of?:
Turning a Chicago sports blog with a small but loyal readership into a full-time job at CBSSports.com.
How would you like to be remembered?:
These are some profound, philosophical questions all of a sudden. I’d like to be remembered as a good, fun person who was right about fucking everything.
What’s the one thing about you few people know?:
I would argue they already know too much.
What do you dislike most about yourself?:
That my body didn’t stop aging at 25.
What do you dislike most in others?:
The things I dislike in myself. Just blew your fucking mind.
What were your best/worst subjects in school?:
I was a very good student. I didn’t have any worst subjects until I got to Calculus, but even then I knew enough about math to get an A on the finals and earn a C besides never going to the class or studying. God bless multiple choice finals.
What do you like doing in your spare time?:
I read. In my Japanese soaking tub. It’s great.
Who is your celebrity crush?:
I would do unspeakable things to earn the favor of Padma Lakshmi.
What is your favorite movie?:
What is your favorite baseball movie?:
What is your biggest/weirdest fear?:
My biggest fear is whatever social event I currently have plans for.
What would be your one superpower?:
The ability to paint the corners with a 99mph fastball.
What would you change your name to?:
What pet would you love to have?:
I would genuinely love having a pet wolf that’s free to come and go as they please and just come home to hang out at the end of the day and get its belly rubbed.
What’s your one biggest pet peeve?:
Anybody who refuses to reconsider a position.
What’s your one annoying habit?:
Caring about the White Sox.
What would be a good theme song for your life?:
I hope there’s never a song that can adequately describe my entire life.
What ballpark would you like to visit?: