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The Decline of White Sox Fan Culture

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QUOTE (bmags @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 01:37 PM)
I'm not sure I would trust a sports reporter that claims they don't root for a team. How on earth did you get into sports then?

 

They can claim it all they want, but actions dictate otherwise.

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QUOTE (Hatchetman @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 06:05 PM)
The past 50 years of Sox history have been pretty bad, broadly speaking. There have been some extended stretches of extreme horribleness (a word?). Then the Sox got a new stadium and have a pretty nice team and then.....WHAM STRIKE/LOCKOUT followed by the infamous White Flag trade and back to mediocrity. The mother of all fluke seasons, 2005, put them back on the map, but that goodwill has been long squandered away by ineptitude and boring baseball.

 

After all these decades, I'm not sure how many Sox fans are left. Why should there be?

Your last sentence is pretty thought provoking. I will say this. The past 11 years of Sox history have actually been good. You can't ignore how huge the WS title is. Now if we go a full 20 years with just one playoff appearance (WS) I'll say the past 20 were decent. The one WS title would still be huge after 20 years but that being the only playoff berth? My gosh that's almost impossible.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 10:15 AM)
There is no real tl;dr of this post, though I'm sure I will write one part poorly enough that it will get argued about over and over. It's long and melodramatic. [edit: alternate possibility, nobody reads it :)]

 

But throughout this year I have been working with the idea that something just feels different about being a sox fan than when I was younger. It's hard to figure out whether something like this is just personal - change in social interactions, change in social life - or something actually happening so I wanted to write a post on it.

 

First off, I'm 30. My white sox fandom becomes conscious around 93, takes a vacation after 95 strike, and comes back with a vengeance with the 2000 group and never stops. I basically grew up on this board, like many others. So it's very possible that older fans have seen this before.

 

How can you tell they're a sox fan

 

As the Cubs explode around us, it's hard not to notice the signs of being a cubs fan surpass ours. The W flag, that f****** song, the "try not to suck" shirts - whether or not these things make you want to vomit - there is a culture around being a cubs fan that extends beyond wearing a cubs hat. A shared experience of watching the team extending to memes and memorabilia.

 

When I talk about culture of being a white sox fan, this is what I'm talking about. In a time that is more meme-able than ever, it feels like there has been a huge dropoff of these shareable experiences as a sox fan, and anything that's tried is very corporate, very astroturf (melkman tshirts, soxmath)

 

In fact, the only thing that seems to hold us together at this point is misery. There were a lot isolated happenings this year that taken my themselves and put in more prosperous times, they'd have been no big deal.

 

But with Twitter, the sale jersey cutups, the drake laroche scandal, the Guaranteed Rate change, it all feels agonizing. And the only thing that grounded me to other sox fans was that, that we were miserable, that we couldn't stand being the butt of the joke.

 

"Hey you are pissed off, you must be a sox fan!"

 

This frankly just reminds me of Royals fans when I moved to Missouri in 2005. In the face of all of the Cardinals fans, all they had was their camaraderie that they face humiliation every day but keep coming back.

 

When we were young

 

I compare this to just 10-15 years ago. Perhaps not-coincidentally, these were the formative years of my fandom.

 

We were winning - to be sure. But it felt like I was soaked in a White Sox culture that extended beyond a box score.

 

The thing that reminded me all of this was raBBit's post about his friend's all wearing their CORK shirts until they were full of holes. That was me! It was also 4 sizes too large.

 

But there was more. There was the OH-EE-OH, MAGGGLIO chants. There was the JOSE OLE chants for Jose Valentin. There was the super embarrassing now, but certainly happened GONG phase from Shingo. Thunderstruck. Metallica when Jenks came out.

 

Then of course - there was the co-opting of don't stop believing by the 05 white sox. I'll chalk this one up to the things that happen when you win.

 

Some of these are as "astroturfey" as melkman. But there was a time when the white sox players and organization would feed us something and we would eat that s*** UP. New chant? I'll sing it ad nauseum. New player from far away? let's find a nickname and scream it.

 

But now, I feel like I'm spitting up everything that they are spoon feeding me.

 

There were always less sox fans, since I've been around. There was always a monopoly on "LORE" that the Cubs held. But there was a time when being a sox fan was different. It was an alternative pick. You were there for the baseball, and you mythologized and meme'd the players, not the losing (like the cubs).

 

But now? Hey ... the k zone. Um, melkman. Oh those cool handmotions they do. What about Hawk? Oh he's old and incoherent.

 

Am I just older? That's a definite possibility. But I guess you all can tell me.

 

Being a sox fan this decade has been a bitter, bitter pill. And maybe all of this stuff is the stupid crap that doesn't matter. But damn if I can't wait for an intro song to play, a chant to start, that I can share with everyone, and it's ours. But until then, I guess misery is what we got.

 

Its not about getting old. Those Cubs fans have gotten just as old as we are, and they aren't caught in the same trap.

 

I think a big piece is that you have a generation of fans that grew up with an icon like Harry Caray, who while more incoherent than Hawk, was also a lot more relatable and adored. The Cubs fans partied at the park, Sox fans punched out umpires. There was a subculture that grew from the losing, Wrigley, Caray, Wrigleyville, and curses that created a huge contingency of fans for the Cubs. Even where I am, 400 miles away from Wrigley, it is sickening the amount of Cubbie blue you see here.

 

The Sox in the same time frame have made their TV announcer their GM, which likely set the franchise back five years in the personnel that was purged. The bright spot was that ensuing terribleness led to the best teams the Sox have fielded in my lifetime. The White Sox of the early 90's were great, except against the A's. Depth of talent and a fun brand of baseball to watch. The lost WS still devastates me as a Sox fan. That team was stacked, and it turns out that JR was the primary force behind the Sox losing their chance that season.

 

Then came White Flag, where a lot of people jumped off the bandwagon as most of what remained of the core of those very good Sox teams was dismantled. The prospects in the white flag deals almost universally failed, showing some of the issues in the Sox scouting.

 

Then came years of poor player development and poor scouting which led to poor product on the field. A GM change was made, the Sox struck it rich on a couple of Latin prospects in Magglio and Carlos Lee. The Sox began their long run of mediocrity which continues to this day. Usually finishing 2-4 in the division. They caught lightning in a bottle in 2005, and a lot of those bandwagons filled up again, but the lack of any sustained success emptied it back out. The Sox just have never been able really to develop that strong connection with those casual fans to pull them into the fold the way the Cubs have.

 

I am almost 40 now, and became a Sox fan in 91. As far as I can tell the Sox have never had the sense of community that Cubs and Cardinals fans have. Sox fans are a lot more like Twins and Brewers fans to me, a small core group that grows with success, but not the ingrained diehard culture.

 

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QUOTE (IowaSoxFan @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 04:26 PM)
Its not about getting old. Those Cubs fans have gotten just as old as we are, and they aren't caught in the same trap.

 

I think a big piece is that you have a generation of fans that grew up with an icon like Harry Caray, who while more incoherent than Hawk, was also a lot more relatable and adored. The Cubs fans partied at the park, Sox fans punched out umpires. There was a subculture that grew from the losing, Wrigley, Caray, Wrigleyville, and curses that created a huge contingency of fans for the Cubs. Even where I am, 400 miles away from Wrigley, it is sickening the amount of Cubbie blue you see here.

 

The Sox in the same time frame have made their TV announcer their GM, which likely set the franchise back five years in the personnel that was purged. The bright spot was that ensuing terribleness led to the best teams the Sox have fielded in my lifetime. The White Sox of the early 90's were great, except against the A's. Depth of talent and a fun brand of baseball to watch. The lost WS still devastates me as a Sox fan. That team was stacked, and it turns out that JR was the primary force behind the Sox losing their chance that season.

 

Then came White Flag, where a lot of people jumped off the bandwagon as most of what remained of the core of those very good Sox teams was dismantled. The prospects in the white flag deals almost universally failed, showing some of the issues in the Sox scouting.

 

Then came years of poor player development and poor scouting which led to poor product on the field. A GM change was made, the Sox struck it rich on a couple of Latin prospects in Magglio and Carlos Lee. The Sox began their long run of mediocrity which continues to this day. Usually finishing 2-4 in the division. They caught lightning in a bottle in 2005, and a lot of those bandwagons filled up again, but the lack of any sustained success emptied it back out. The Sox just have never been able really to develop that strong connection with those casual fans to pull them into the fold the way the Cubs have.

 

I am almost 40 now, and became a Sox fan in 91. As far as I can tell the Sox have never had the sense of community that Cubs and Cardinals fans have. Sox fans are a lot more like Twins and Brewers fans to me, a small core group that grows with success, but not the ingrained diehard culture.

 

There's good stuff here but you kind of yadda yadda away the 2000-20005 years which were the bulk of the "good" years I mentioned to be a sox fan. It was fun then.

 

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QUOTE (IowaSoxFan @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 02:26 PM)
Sox fans are a lot more like Twins and Brewers fans to me, a small core group that grows with success, but not the ingrained diehard culture.

 

Right or wrong, I always look at the smaller Sox, Twins, and Brewers fan bases as being die hard with the Cubs fan base being more casual.

 

And you cannot deny what Wrigleyville has become. It's a straight up party that everyone wants to be a part of. I have yet to meet anyone out west here who is dying to go see a game at . They all mention how they want to go to Wrigley field and how it's their favorite stadium even though most of them have never been.

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 04:36 PM)
Right or wrong, I always look at the smaller Sox, Twins, and Brewers fan bases as being die hard with the Cubs fan base being more casual.

 

And you cannot deny what Wrigleyville has become. It's a straight up party that everyone wants to be a part of. I have yet to meet anyone out west here who is dying to go see a game at . They all mention how they want to go to Wrigley field and how it's their favorite stadium even though most of them have never been.

 

The problem with calling the Cubs fan base "casual" is that they drew huge numbers even at their worst for decades now. The Twins, Sox, and Brewers don't do that.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 12:37 PM)
I'm not sure I would trust a sports reporter that claims they don't root for a team. How on earth did you get into sports then?

 

Nothing wrong with rooting for a team...but being open about it? When you are working??

 

There was a time when the Chicago newspaper baseball beat reporters would switch teams at the All-Star break EXACTLY to prevent the individuals from getting to close to a player or players and not be truthful in their work.

 

Plus newspapers used to hire people who rooted for teams but not the teams they were covering. Reporters were hired for example from Cleveland or the Bay Area to cover Chicago teams. They grew up rooting for the Indians or the Giants...not the Sox or Cubs.

 

To say "that's the way it is" doesn't make it "right" in my opinion.

 

I want to vomit and am embarrassed when I see reporters parading around in the gear of the team they are covering or openly rooting for them on the job as the example Gonzo told me about.

 

Here some respect for yourself and your position.

 

And the fact that fans seem to "condone" such behavior is mind-blowing to me.

 

Just my opinion.

 

Mark

Edited by Lip Man 1

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QUOTE (Lip Man 1 @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 04:40 PM)
Nothing wrong with rooting for a team...but being open about it? When you are working??

 

There was a time when the Chicago newspaper baseball beat reporters would switch teams at the All-Star break EXACTLY to prevent the individuals from getting to close to a player or players and not be truthful in their work.

 

Plus newspapers used to hire people who rooted for teams but not the teams they were covering. Reporters were hired for example from Cleveland or the Bay Area to cover Chicago teams. They grew up rooting for the Indians or the Giants...not the Sox or Cubs.

 

To say "that's the way it is" doesn't make it "right" in my opinion.

 

I want to vomit and am embarrassed when I see reports parading around in the gear of the team they are covering or openly rootingfor them on the job as the example Gonzo told me about.

 

Here some respect for yourself and your position.

 

And the fact that fans seem to "condone" such behavior is mind-blowing to me.

 

Just my opinion.

 

Mark

 

Today "right" isn't morality, it is profit. It is about having respect for your paycheck to be honest. If those guys aren't selling the hottest ticket in town, they will find someone else who will.

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QUOTE (southsider2k5 @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 02:38 PM)
The problem with calling the Cubs fan base "casual" is that they drew huge numbers even at their worst for decades now. The Twins, Sox, and Brewers don't do that.

 

I guess that's part of my point. Maybe it's not a huge percentage of people who attend the games, but out of town visitors make it a point to go check out a game at Wrigley. It's literally a top tourist destination and a fun place to knock down a few cold ones. It'd be like going to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, etc. Checking out a game at Wrigley and hanging out in that neighborhood is just something people do when they visit Chicago.

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QUOTE (Lip Man 1 @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 04:40 PM)
Nothing wrong with rooting for a team...but being open about it? When you are working??

 

There was a time when the Chicago newspaper baseball beat reporters would switch teams at the All-Star break EXACTLY to prevent the individuals from getting to close to a player or players and not be truthful in their work.

 

Plus newspapers used to hire people who rooted for teams but not the teams they were covering. Reporters were hired for example from Cleveland or the Bay Area to cover Chicago teams. They grew up rooting for the Indians or the Giants...not the Sox or Cubs.

 

To say "that's the way it is" doesn't make it "right" in my opinion.

 

I want to vomit and am embarrassed when I see reporters parading around in the gear of the team they are covering or openly rooting for them on the job as the example Gonzo told me about.

 

Here some respect for yourself and your position.

 

And the fact that fans seem to "condone" such behavior is mind-blowing to me.

 

Just my opinion.

 

Mark

 

This is going to send thread in a crazy direction. but my response is the fact that I knew Peter Gammons was a red sox fan didn't ruin my enjoyment of him when he was good. Marc Stein is a mavs fan, still enjoy him. Is giving a fist pump annoying in a media room? yeah I'm sure people want to do their jobs. but I don't find it commendable or interesting or professional to act like someone covering sports doesn't have a team they root for.

 

 

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QUOTE (BigSqwert @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 02:45 PM)
I guess that's part of my point. Maybe it's not a huge percentage of people who attend the games, but out of town visitors make it a point to go check out a game at Wrigley. It's literally a top tourist destination and a fun place to knock down a few cold ones. It'd be like going to check out the Golden Gate Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, etc. Checking out a game at Wrigley and hanging out in that neighborhood is just something people do when they visit Chicago.

Exactly. The baseball isn't necessarily the focal point during much of the regular season.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 02:56 PM)
This is going to send thread in a crazy direction. but my response is the fact that I knew Peter Gammons was a red sox fan didn't ruin my enjoyment of him when he was good. Marc Stein is a mavs fan, still enjoy him. Is giving a fist pump annoying in a media room? yeah I'm sure people want to do their jobs. but I don't find it commendable or interesting or professional to act like someone covering sports doesn't have a team they root for.

Certain writers are so good and knowledgable that you can look past the lack of objectivity.

 

Others, you just don't feel like you are getting the whole story.

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I think almost all of the problems that have been broached in this thread come at the hands of ownership.

And I'm afraid the problem with ownership comes down to age.

George Halas got old and the Bears suffered. Al Davis got old and the Raiders became horrible. PK Wrigley got old, and as an owner who didn't really care to begin with, the Cubs got even worse.

All of those teams suffered both on the field and off.

When Reinsdorf and Einhorn took over the White Sox they were aggressive and dedicated to making the White Sox a premiere franchise. They cleaned up the park and installed one of the first and best video scoreboards in all of baseball at the time.

They signed Carlton Fisk and won the division in '83. Even though Sportsvision was a disaster it was an aggressive attempt to improve the teams TV revenues.

Eddie Enihorn eventually stepped aside, and then passed away. Jerry Reinsdorf is what 80 years old?

He should not be running a major sports franchise on a day to day bases. The team should be in the hands of a younger and excited ownership, and until that changes, the malaise that surrounds this team will remain.

I've been a fan since 1967 when I was nine years old. That first season was a really fun one, but then came '68 through '71 until Rollie Hemond, Chuck Tanner and Dick Allen made being a White Sox fan fun again in '72.

But man '69 with the Cubs being so good, those were tough times like today.

Being a White Sox fan is not easy, but my Dad raised me to be one and that won't change.

 

 

 

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QUOTE (bmags @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 03:56 PM)
This is going to send thread in a crazy direction. but my response is the fact that I knew Peter Gammons was a red sox fan didn't ruin my enjoyment of him when he was good. Marc Stein is a mavs fan, still enjoy him. Is giving a fist pump annoying in a media room? yeah I'm sure people want to do their jobs. but I don't find it commendable or interesting or professional to act like someone covering sports doesn't have a team they root for.

 

Peter Gammons is a consummate professional who never let his love of the Red Sox come to the forefront as opposed to say Chris Berman (OH! NO!!!).

 

Is it commendable say the way David Kaplan acts about the Cubs?

 

Nobody is saying you can't root for whomever, what I AM saying is you don't let that show on the air, in the press box and so forth UNLESS you are actually being paid by said team. In that case (and I experience this basically every day) the team / school that is paying you has a right to expect certain things and you try to balance the fact that they are paying you with the fact that you have a professional obligation to your audience.

 

One of the best local example I can think of was when Josh Mora worked for Comcast Sports Chicago. He is a big Cubs fan but you NEVER saw that come through on the air. In fact he told me that Cub fans would tell him he really was a Sox fan!

 

Here an example of the way it should be done.

 

The day after the Sox won the series Mora was hosting Chicago Tribune now on Comcast. Ed Sherman and Les Grobstein were among the guests. Les started to go off on the fact that the Cubs were still bad, had ownership that didn't care and so forth. Mora let him go for a moment then said (paraphrasing) that's all well and good but it's also for another time. The White Sox are World Series champs and this is their time.

 

It was done courteously, professionally and with decorum. I've got that tape in my library so I remember it distinctly.

 

And speaking of Les who is a friend of mine and about as big of a Cub fan as there is, in 40+ years working in Chicago to the best of my knowledge he has NEVER treated the Sox any differently not made any snide remarks about them during his shows.

 

That's the way you root for a team but not let it impact your professionalism or how you cover things.

 

You can not make that claim about a large number of Chicago media types.

 

Just my opinion.

 

Mark

Edited by Lip Man 1

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I wonder if this is not in large part due to the decrease in baseball as a whole. I think this is in large part due to the growth of the NFL and the economic collapse.

 

Most people aren't like you and I. They think they don't really have the time to invest into baseball that we do. Even the Cubs success for much of the season hasn't been the cultural magnet previous seasons seemed to be. And anyway, the vast majority of people just want to hop on a bandwagon and have fun. This city seems to have been taken over by transplants and finance/marketing people in the last 10 years. They've spent their 20s in dumb bars in Wrigley, of course they're on the bandwagon.

 

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I don't have to deal with all things Cubs here in California but I am as diehard as I have ever been about the Sox. Maybe that's because my kids are grown ,I'm divorced and can spend as much time as I want watching the Sox on DirecTV. I try to let all the negative stuff ( and there has been a ton of it since Hahn was named GM)just roll off my back. Of course I will comment on it here on Soxtalk but I don't dwell on it.

 

For the most part I concentrate on the players and how they perform and try to see the upside in every young player.So for those who say Saladino. Avi, and Sanchez can't hit I choose the side that sees them succeeding as Major Leaguers. Despite all the negative I remain optimistic as if it's spring training all season . Without hope there is no point in fandom.

 

 

Edit : Oh yeah one more thing. GO TRIBE !

Edited by CaliSoxFanViaSWside

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Apparently when they started the segment, they mentioned they weren't including the Sox because Cubs fans wouldn't be rooting for them. Whatever.

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QUOTE (dpd9189 @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 10:37 PM)
ESPN is a joke. Their explanation makes no sense at all either.

 

Total BS, they got caught with a major screw up and tried to alibi their way out of it.

 

It's not the first time. From my historical article called "Sox and the Media:"

 

"The best way to sum up the relationship between the White Sox and ESPN came in 2006. ESPN was doing a daily poll on which teams were the most popular in cities with pro franchises. The results were broadcast nightly on SportsCenter along with discussion about it.

 

When it came to Chicago, four choices were listed by them. The Bears, Blackhawks (who were terrible at that time), Bulls and…Cubs. That’s right, less than one year removed from winning their first World Series since 1917, ESPN deemed the Sox not worthy enough of even getting on their Chicago ballot. Scott Reifert, the Vice President of Communications for the White Sox said it best when he intoned that “ESPN is still probably mad that the White Sox eliminated their Red Sox in 2005…”

 

Regarding their explanation that Cub fans wouldn't root for the Sox, I found that interesting. Yet Sox fans are supposed to root for the Cubs because "you're from Chicago..." LOL.

 

Mark

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QUOTE (iamshack @ Oct 24, 2016 -> 06:28 PM)
Exactly. The baseball isn't necessarily the focal point during much of the regular season.

 

No matter how bad the Cubs are or were, they have a 5 square block party every game. Sox cannot compete with that. Who comes to town and goes to a Sox game?

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My dad, who grew up on the north side, told me the other day, when he was growing up, he did not even know Chicago had a 2nd team. It was all Cubs. No matter how the Sox do, it will always be a Cubs town. It's just that simple. Even when the Cubs were losing 100 plus games, they still put more butts into seats than the Sox could ever dream of. Most has to do with the scene outside the park which did not always exist. The Sox tried with the bar across the street from the park, but who hangs around until midnight? Unfortunately, the Sox missed a huge opportunity to create the party atmosphere in moving, but they chose to stay where they are. Now a days, people don't have a lot of extra money. Spending it on a .500 team with not much to do after the games is also part of the problem.

 

 

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As I get older, I've gotten more responsibilities and jobs that keep me busy. I don't have the free time that I used to have when I was younger. That said, I don't have the patience or want to put in the effort, money, and time into a perpetually losing franchise.

 

I have more important things to use my time and resources on, than a team that's going to waste 3 hours of my night every night because they are a poorly managed organization that is - frankly - a losing team.

 

The 2005 season was great, but they truly lucked into it. There was no future and no plan for continued success. They've been this way since I was a child when I watched them lose in the '80s.

 

I'm not going to stop being a fan... I just expect more out of them than I used to. Until they show me that they're serious about having a plan, what's the point?

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