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Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago White Sox
Former White Sox second baseman Josh Harrison discusses vital issues of the day with the home plate ump on Wedneday. Most of the crowd is seen in the background.
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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Take me out to the ballgame ... but forget the peanuts and Cracker Jack

The anti-Jerry challenge taken — and won!

My son, Will, and I went to the White Sox game Wednesday determined not to spend a single penny that would make its way to Jerry Reinsdorf’s pocket. And it worked!

For those of you who scoff that this is possible, it went like this:

Will bought the tickets through a third party as a Christmas present, long before single-game tickets were even on sale, so we’re very confident it wasn’t the Sox pretending to be someone else.

He’s staying near the Goodman Theatre, where he’s in The Cherry Orchard (plug, plug), and we ate lunch downtown before heading to the GuRF.

We took the Red Line, so no parking fees.

We neither ate nor drank at the park.

Wallah! No Jerry money! We Jerry-mandered him!

It did help that thanks to new rules the game only went 2 1⁄2 hours and the weather was nice, calling for drinks neither cold nor hot. Still, we claim success.

Long day’s journey into the park

Actually, short day’s journey. As is typical for weekday day games in April, there were no lines to contend with. We did, however, see that others had to contend with White Sox management’s never-ending quest to alienate fans as much as possible.

Normally, the White Sox separate the lepers with upper deck tickets from the fine people down below, the better to make sure no kids get to enjoy the thrill of trying to catch a batting practice home run. No sense letting those little buggers grow up talking about the wonderfulness of the White Sox.

Wednesday, though, I’d told Will there would be so few people there, they probably would close off the upper deck and wouldn’t bother with having the pleasure police stationed at the entrances to the 100 level to make sure none of the riff-raff from the 500 level try to sneak down to mingle with the hoity-toits. I was right about the closing, but not about the guards at the gates of the sacred lower level. They were checking away and turning aside those foul enough to have purchased cheaper tickets.

We had 100 level tickets, so we got through. Don’t know what happened to those who bought upper deck seats, since they could neither go to their own seats nor to any others. Maybe they were all herded into the parking lot, only to eventually be able to overpower the security forces and commandeer one of the 35,000 or more empty seats.

(The official attendance was just more than 10,000. The eyeball test suggested several thousands of those were waiting for one of those CTA ghost buses to get to the park and never made it.)

The pregame

Despite the team’s lousy record so far, the White Sox players really did seem to be a lot more enthused than last season. Last year, they noticeably just kind of sleepwalked through warming up (preparatory to sleepwalking through games). This year they went right at it, and even seemed to be enjoying the idea of baseball again. Hasn’t amounted to much in the standings yet, but it’s still encouraging.

We had the bad timing to get the L** L*** S*** for a starting pitcher, but at least he had the good sense not to again use Gold Digger as his intro music. Well, more likely, his lawyers told him he better not pull that stunt again.

As for the reception to him, casual fans may not care about personal awfulness as much as those off us who follow things closely do. He was met with neither cheers nor boos.

The game

That’s covered thoroughly on SSS and elsewhere. I’ll just drop in that I’d told Will what I really hoped would be the three-point blueprint for the game:

  1. The L** L*** S*** got hit hard and often and had to leave the game early, so I could wholeheartedly root for all the remaining White Sox
  2. The bullpen would shut down the Phillies the rest of the way
  3. The Sox would come from behind for a grand finale, walk-off victory.

I had the first part down perfectly, and No. 2 went well except for some brief early problems, but the grand finale fell a trifle short. Well, OK, a lot short, what with not scoring after the first inning.

Still, it was a beautiful day for a ballgame, especially if you were sitting in the sun, which almost everyone eventually was.

The net profit

Not Jerry’s, real people’s.

At one point a vicious, foul line drive hooked to the seat in the section next to ours, and would have decapitated a kid in the front row who never saw it coming were it not for the net. All of us adults were saying, “Boy, lucky the net was there.” The kid had no idea anything even happened.

There’s downside to the net, but that was a giant upside.

The fans (Phillies version)

We had a bunch of Phillies fans around us. They were all perfectly normal, courteous folks. They’re going to have to work a lot harder to live up to their reputation as the dregs of humanity, or even second-dregs to Yankees fans.

The fans (White Sox version)

If there are a lot of folks in the stands, late in the game when nothing much is happening, somebody will run naked across the outfield or, worse yet, start the wave. There was definitely not much happening late in this game, with even the Phillies not bothering to threaten any more. But there were so few fans on hand there would have been no way to even start a ripple, let alone a wave.

So, some folks over in the shady side, no doubt starting to get cold, started a chant. Fair enough. Only the chant they started was, “Let’s go, White Sox. Let’s go, White Sox.”

Fair enough, again. Except they did it while the Phillies were up.

“Let’s go,” whomever, is an offensive chant. Not in the sense of foul language, in the sense of encouraging the offense to finally accomplish something in the way of hitting. “Let’s go” has nothing to do with defense. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

We often talk about players needing to round into midseason form, but apparently fans do, too. Maybe the White Sox could break up the endless stream of emails trying to sell things to insert some fan education or advisories. Starting a “let’s go” chant when the other team is up in April is pretty doggoned bad. But if the same thing is being done in July, we could get booted out of the league.

The aftermath

Seats on the el. With empties on the side to spread out. Perfect.

Well, perfect except for the guy who threatened to kill the CTA employee sitting across from us. But you can’t have everything.

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