Last week, we talked about the White Sox marketing arm being proactive in attempt to thrash against bad baseball.
Based on the initial response I saw to this Crain's Chicago Business article about new game day experience director Cris Quintana, some fans would prefer to return to the days of attendance shaming from the front office.
Chicago White Sox games might have more of a Chicago Bulls feel this season.
New music and video features, in-stadium games and some increased capering from Sox mascot Southpaw may be in store for U.S. Cellular Field, if one of the newest members of the South Siders' front office has his way.
It's all part of the vision of Cris Quintana, who's in charge of overseeing the game day experience at White Sox games as the director of game presentation, game operations and fan engagement.
Quintana joined the Sox Dec. 1 after 15 years in the NBA with the Miami Heat and most recently the New Orleans Pelicans, where he was the director of event presentation.
Read the whole thing, because there's a lot to this. On a first pass, it can be off-putting on levels, man. The NBA-fication of a baseball game means more noise. Quintana grew up as a Cub fan near Andersonville, and has never been to a Sox game. He's known as "CQ," which I suppose is fine as long as it doesn't morph into "TCQ."
But this story requires a few adjustments before processing. Start with the idea that nothing like this is ever aimed at hyper-interested fans, and more so here since this is a business story by a business publication about a business doing a business thing. Reducing the charm further -- there's something inherently unsatisfying about reading about marketing when you're the subject. It's like listening to somebody detail the way they're going to get into your pants (or, in this case, the part that contains the wallet). That's going to put White Sox fans on the defensive even more, and they don't need any help playing hard-to-get.
That's precisely why the Sox have to try different things. I'm guessing the lack of attendance momentum in the second half of 2012 scarred Brooks Boyer, and he can't count on winning solving any problems. Maybe this is going to create more problems than it solves, but I can't say I blame them from trying to work around the chip on the fan base's shoulder, since years of attacking it directly backfired.
There's the inclination to grab pitchforks when reading stories like this, but there's also the chance that any changes would go undetected if not described in advance. If you're willing to give the new guy the benefit of the doubt until you see for yourself, here are a few things in his favor:
No. 1: Quintana directed the opening ceremony at SoxFest, which seemed to be well-received from the people in the room.
No. 2: His work with the Pelicans included a "a strong ability to 'humanize'" players. That's partially the standard PR objective of "showing players in a positive light," but anything that gets the Sox off "BASEBALL = THANKLESS TOIL" works for me.
No. 3: Southpaw is an asset. In Rob's post about Chicago mascots from two years ago, some disputed his claim that the Sox "struck gold" with Southpaw, but we're grown-assed grown-ups. Southpaw is successful with the people he's supposed to appeal to, and the jobs he's asked to do.
A debatable fourth point -- Quintana has no real attachment to the "Thunderstruck" introduction and may be motivated to phase it out. Like the black-and-white color scheme, here's a case where I may be in the minority as somebody up for a change, as AC/DC reached its general saturation point with me long ago, "Hell's Bells" aside.
I suspect there would be a vocal pushback, which would create yet another disconnect for the marketing office that needs to widen appeal more than it needs to stick to what's been done.