Our Chicago White Sox opened up the season by taking two out of three from the Minnesota Twins. The team tallied a division-leading 21 runs while clubbing 35 hits, and newcomers Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton impressed both at the plate and in the field.
Given how the Sox couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn last season and showed virtually no signs of life from June on, you would think the offense and effort level would be the main talking points surrounding the team. However, most of the attention surrounding the Sox, whether it be locally or even nationally, didn’t even seem to be on the field.
It was in the seats. After a crowd of 37,422 for Opening Day, the Sox paid attendance was less than 22,000 combined for Wednesday and Thursday, and the actual amount of people in the ballpark was maybe a third of that. Local media was all over the story, as was national sites such as Bleacher Report and the dreaded Deadspin.
Sox fans have heard this song and dance before, as we’re consistently reminded by fans on the north side of down that we don’t draw very well. It’s an empty ballpark for the first two or three months, and if the White Sox are in the race when the weather turns warm, the fans will come. It’s been that way forever (aside from the 2006 season following the World Series).
Well, here’s a newsflash from someone who is a die-hard, bleedin’ silver and black Sox fan: I don’t care about that, and I’m sure the majority of Sox fans like myself say the same.
I must say that I do my part when it comes to this issue. On average, I attend around 15 games a season, and as a college student who doesn’t have a ton of money (common issue for folks like me), that’s a hefty chunk of change. However, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m the only fan in the ballpark. I’m still pulling for our Sox no more or no less that I would if the team sold out every game, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
I’ve heard about every reason in the book from baseball fans of other teams. “You should care that the park’s empty.” “You should do your part in helping to fill the stands.” Look, it’s not my business whether or not Bob from Alsip or Chris from Park Ridge or Mike from Bridgeport wants to spend $50 to come down to U.S. Cellular Field and watch his Sox play. If he doesn’t want to take him and his family to the Cell when the team lost 99 games last season and the weather’s not great, that’s his prerogative, and who am I to judge someone for wanting/not wanting to spend money on something?
Just because a die-hard Sox fan doesn’t want to spend the money to sit in 30 degree weather and freezing rain to see the Sox play the Twins after both teams combined for 195 losses last season doesn’t make him a disloyal fan. Heck, you can argue it makes him a smart fan.
Sure, the Sox would be better off financially if the fans filled the stadium more often, but there’s also something to be said for showing your displeasure toward the front office for not putting a good product on the field. If the team is horrible and the seats are continually filled, where’s the pressure on the ownership to put a better product out there since no money’s being lost (there’s a certain fan base up north that can’t quite wrap their heads around this one, although I must admit, they’re getting better at this).
As a die-hard Sox fan, when I’m at the game, I’m there to watch the game. I’m not worried if section 162 in the outfield has 10 people in it. If the Sox win the game, that’s what important to me, and I’m going to be thrilled weather it’s 10,000 or 35,000 people sharing it with me. Likewise, if the Sox blow a game like they did yesterday, I’m 10 times more upset about that then if no one was in section 510 to see it. Hell, the national story poking fun at the White Sox should be about how the bullpen might think they’re participating in a walk-a-thon rather than a baseball game. That’s the most comical thing about the opening series, not the fact that some Sox fans don’t want to watch baseball when it’s 30 degrees outside.
Would I rather have the Cell be packed and jumpin’ every game? Of course I would, but if it’s not, it’s not a big deal. I’ll concern myself more with the likes of Robin Ventura and how this team is playing on the field when I’m at the ballpark. Chief Marketing Officer Brooks Boyer can be the one who worries about Bob from Alsip.