With Sox season coming up in just 3 short weeks, I have recently been explaining to my girlfriend the amount of time she and I will be losing with each other due to the Sox. Of course this did not sit well with her and she decided she wanted to learn more about baseball and the team I root for. The following is a letter I wrote to her in attempt to sum up White Sox baseball in a simpleton and brief manner. If anyone else has had a similar experience, or has any alterations to this summary please share.
Why Be a Sox Fan?, and What it means to be a Sox Fan:
It’s a city of two teams Chicago is. Divided between the north and the south, that’s the way of life for baseball fandom within the Chicago city limits. It’s a well known fact that the Chicago Cubs, or "Cubbies" as their pretentious fans so endearingly call them, are Chicago’s team. The Cub fan base stretches throughout the entire United States. This due to the displacement of Chicago fans all across the country. The fan base in and of its self, is impressive. However, the fan base as a whole is notoriously one of the most uneducated in baseball. In other words the average Cubs fan is nearly baseball illiterate and only follows the team to "join the crowd". Because again, they are without a doubt Chicago’s team. If you are not aware, the Cubs are in the midst of a 103 year World Series drought. They are coined the lovable losers, through thick and thin the Cubs fans have filled Wrigley field for the past century to watch their disappointment of a team. Which is not wrong, but the way they treat the event of attending a baseball game is wrong. Most cub fans go not for the baseball (as they usually can’t name more than 5 players on the current team) but for the experience, and booze.
Across the town, nestled within the Southside neighborhood of 35th street lies U.S. Cellular field. This neighborhood is not one of Chicago’s finest, but it is a big part of White Sox baseball and gives meaning to the term "South Side Pride". The stereotypical Sox fan is a lower-to middle class individual who works a blue-collar job. Sox fandom has roots within the factories and service providing jobs all over the Chicago area. The team itself relates well to it’s fanbase, as they have historically built teams that model the fans that watch them. Grindy, hard-working, dirty, balls to the walls teams built around speed on the base paths and power to the fences. It is that type of mentality that led the White Sox to a World Series Championship in 2005. The White Sox as like the Cubs have a very storied history, dating back to 1900. Throughout the years their attendance at ball games, and size of fan base has never come close to that of the Cubs. However, the fans that do cheer on this team are hardcore. The average White Sox fan knows his baseball and his team much better than the cross town fans. Unlike Cubs fans, Sox fans do not show up to games when the team is bad. This doesn’t mean they don’t follow their club, but they generally do not go out and give their hard earned money towards tickets to watch a losing ball club. This goes back to the blue-collar mentality: if someone isn’t putting forth the effort in the workplace and getting good results then they do not deserve to be praised. Being a Sox fan goes way beyond baseball, it is based around a lifestyle.
Who is this team? :
The current team is managed by 47 year old Venezuelan man named Ozzie Guillen. If you hear the name "Ozzie" while you are in Chicago, nine times out of ten this is the man they are referring to. He is a lightning bolt of energy and practically a living controversial statement. Never has Ozzie been afraid to spit his mouth on a subject, rarely shying away from an interview. This is his 8th year at the helm of the Chicago White Sox. Though the Sox have not made the playoffs in the last two years, they are poised and ready to make a legitimate run at it this year of 2011. Their pitching staff (which is the rotation of 5 pitchers who start the ball games) is one of the best in the league. Comprised of Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, and Edwin Jackson. All five are veteran starters with tons of quality big league performances. The bullpen (pitchers who come into the ballgame in relief of the starters. Usually around innings #7-9 when the starters get tired) has been retooled this offseason and will be key to their success or failure this season. As for the offense of the Sox, they have acquired a player over this offseason that could drastically improve their postseason chances. His name, Adam Dunn, a mammoth of a man standing at 6’6 285lbs. Dunn is primed and ready to belt out about 40 homeruns this season. First baseman Paul Konerko is coming off the best season of his career last year. Chances of him repeating that performance this season are slim, but the Sox look for him to be an anchor in the middle of their homerun hitting lineup. AJ Pierzinski is another name that any beginner Sox fan needs to know. He is their starting catcher, and though he is not the best in the league at anything he does, he was a huge reason why they won the World Series six years ago. Like the manager Ozzie Guillen, AJ has a knack for creating controversy within the press, through his roll of the tongue comments. Most White Sox "controversy" is all in fun, and is blown out of proportion in the media. Quotes like this help make Sox season fun: "I hope I die on the field. I hope when I walk to change the pitcher, I drop dead and that’s it. I know my family would be so happy that it happened on the field. They wouldn’t feel bad because that’s what I’ve always wanted to do", Ozzie Guillen.
Being a Chicago White Sox fan is a privilege. It is not for the followers, it is for those who want to step out and away from the crowd mentality. Being a Sox fan is about family history, team history, and the south side of Chicago. It is about Carlton Fisk and Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle. Crucial are broadcasters Hawk Harrelson, and the late Harry Caray. It is old Comiskey field and The Cell. It includes black sox and disco demolition, go-go Sox and 2005. White Sox baseball is way of life.
Simple Baseball Quick Facts:
Batting Average = the percentage out of 10 that a player gets a base hit. Anything over a .285 average is good.
RBI’s: runs batted in by a given player. Any season in which a player drives in over 100 runs is good.
ERA: a formula for showing the performance of a pitcher, similar to the QB rating in football. Any ERA LOWER than 4.00 is good.
Minor Leagues: a system of leagues owned by the major league team that grooms, teaches and gives experience to the players within the Sox organization that are not good enough or yet ready to play in the big league.
*The Sox roster on the major league level is comprised of 25 players. However within the entire organization (minor league included) the Sox employ over 100 players. Most Sox fans, like me, can name off every player on the roster.