SAYING GOOD-BYE TO THE WHITE SOX

 

The Major League regular baseball season was ending as I began to write this. As they have done for the past seven years, the Chicago White Sox will sit out the playoffs as they logged in their third consecutive losing season and fourth in five years. “Die-hards” are now speculating about what the franchise will do to turn things around. I refuse to take part in this exercise in futility. I have no reason to believe that the people who got the team into this mess have the ability to get the team out of it.

 

No major league sports franchise can let the fans run the team. So the White Sox should not fire Robin Ventura because he is not popular. However, my constant beef with the White Sox is they have spent the past 35 years alienating Sox fans, and then demand attendance reaching in the 3,000,000 neighborhood. So not only will I not speculate about what will make the team a winner, I will not spend any more time writing about the Sox in this space or anywhere else. I find that the Sox are just not worth it. Not firing Ventura demonstrates that they are not worth it.

 

Here is my major point: In addition to the up and down performance of the team, for the past 35 years they have treated their fans with disdain. I have been sick of it for a long time, but now I am so sick of it that I have almost no interest in the team. For the last month and a half of the 2015 season, I did not watch them on TV except for the briefest occasions and that time amounted to next to nothing. Going out to the ballpark was not in the cards even when I was offered free tickets. As I wrote in the last paragraph, the Sox were not worth the effort.

 

Recently my wife and I vacationed in San Diego. While in that beautiful city, we took in the last Padre home game. The ball park staff was courteous and helpful. When we left the ball park, the staff assumed we were locals, thanked us for coming and invited us back for the next season.

 

I have been to several last home games for the White Sox. Never has anyone thanked me for attending the game or invited me back for the next season. Additionally, I have never been thanked for any business or support I have given the team, at least by this horse’s ass ownership bunch. After all, I was supposed to be a gullible and loyal fan, and I owed that to them.

 

About 15 years ago when I was working on my first book on the White Sox, I had a chance to talk to a front office man with the club. I mentioned that I began attending more games in 1999 when I saw there was at least some promise in the team. Did he thank me for coming out? No. He accused me of being fair-weather when the 1999 team won only 75 games and finished 21 ½ games out of first. Incredible.

 

I didn’t get a chance to tell this jerk a few things so I will now. I attended opening day in 1999 under the worst weather conditions I had ever experienced at a ball game and stayed until the last out even though the Sox were losing 10-5. By the time of this conversation, I had been a Sox fan for almost 40 years. I had attended games during the last place years of 1970, 1976, 1989, and eventually 2013. I was writing about the team when no one else had the slightest interest. Yet he called me fair-weather. Could he be that arrogant, conceited and short-sighted? Yes, he could. Then the White Sox wonder why people don’t want to come out to their ball park to watch a vacant-faced Robin Ventura walk up and down the dugout like he doesn’t’ have a clue.

 

*****

Several times I have had a booth at the annual fan convention called SoxFest to sell my books. Shortly after the 2012 season ended, I called the White Sox office to inquire about getting a booth for the SoxFest in January of 2013. I asked about the cost. I was told that they had no idea how much it would cost or even if a booth would be available. I hung up stunned that I couldn’t be given the most basic information. And even though I was offering them my business, I was treated like a pariah.

 

About a month later the White Sox sent me an e-mail and finally provided me with some basic information. The booth would cost $900. I was to send a check, but that would not guarantee me a booth. I would be put on a waiting list. If the booth would end up not being available to me, my check would be returned.

 

I never heard of anything so fucking stupid in my life. I was supposed to forward a check for nearly $1,000 for something I might not get? I ignored the e-mail and assumed I wasn’t going to SoxFest.

 

In December, the White Sox e-mailed me again and wondered why I wasn’t coming to SoxFest. A booth was now available. Against my better judgment I sent the check. I was again attending SoxFest as a “vendor.” I should have used my better judgment.

 

Two weeks later, I was sent information about the convention. I was informed that, as a vendor, I would not be allowed to attend seminars featuring Sox present and past players. Of course anyone manning the booth with me would not be allowed in the seminars, either. Again I never heard of anything so fucking stupid. Just how would the Sox be hurt if a few vendors attended a seminar? They wouldn’t want people actually to be interested in their team, now would they? Or was it the stupid thinking that somebody was getting something for free? Hey, White Sox, who paid for your stadium?

 

But there was more.

 

My daughter Leah accompanied me on the first day. As I toted boxes of my books behind me, I approached a man who wore a SoxFest ID. I asked him what floor was reserved for the vendors. He said he didn’t know and stood there like a statue, making no attempt to find out. I got the same response from another person. Things were going great so far.

 

Getting to the bank of elevators, I chose to ride to the third floor. I encountered three 20-something guys who were surrounded by stacks of sealed boxes. I could see that this floor was not for the vendors so I again asked what floor was set aside for the vendors. Not one of them knew. Not one of them made an attempt to find out.

 

I pointed to the boxes and asked what was in them. They told me the contents were SoxFest programs. I suggested that they open a box and look at the program. That way they could find out where I was to go.

 

They refused. They said they were instructed not to open the boxes until the very minute SoxFest actually began. Again they made no other attempt to find out anything. They merely gave me helpless expressions and no help. Meanwhile the boxes with the classified information remained sealed.

 

Meanwhile Leah raced up to the fourth floor and found out that was the place to go. So I had encountered five uncaring and incompetent people who had done nothing but act like idiots. Leah has shown more quick thinking than they did by simply walking up a flight of stairs. At that point, I had received next to nothing for my $900 unless you can count aggravation.

 

There was a seminar that night that included Paul Konerko. Konerko was Leah’s favorite player, and I told her to go to the seminar. If they didn’t let her in, I was going to raise holy hell. Happily for her, no one stopped her, and she enjoyed the seminar. Would it have been nice to stop a teen-aged girl from seeing her favorite player?

 

But there is more.

 

On Sunday morning, I walked toward the vendor’s room to set up my booth. A young woman guarded the door and angrily blocked my entrance. Shocked by the hostility, I moved back thinking I had come in too early. But, in looking back, I saw other vendors allowed inside. I figured out that the incompetent woman assumed I was a fan and not a vendor. I returned, showed my vendor’s badge and demanded entrance. She let me in acting like she was doing me a favor. Another incompetent idiot.

 

But there is more.

 

Except for bathroom breaks, I manned my booth for the entire SoxFest. Not one time did anyone from the team ever stop by to see how I was doing or even thank me for attending. Why, you might ask? Because they don’t give a fuck, that’s why. They thought they had been doing me a favor by letting me have the booth for $900. I was the one who was supposed to be grateful.

 

They followed this all up by having their worst season on the field in over 40 years. Little league teams looked better. Ventura looked as vacant-faced as ever.

 

But there is more.

 

Finding my SoxFest experience not a happy one, I wrote Sox marketing man Brooks Boyer a letter of complaint. I didn’t know if he was the right person to contact, but I figured he’d pass the letter on if he wasn’t. Regardless, I made sure I didn’t use any name-calling or profanity in the letter. I had my complaints and stated them. In the end, I received no reply.

 

And finally there is this:

 

The next year the White Sox front office contacted me about SoxFest, soliciting me to return. That had never happened before, and I assumed that they had alienated enough vendors that many were now not returning. Whatever, I restated my earlier complaints and said I was not coming. I did get an answer this time, and the woman stated that she was sorry about my experience and that the White Sox don’t do things like that.

 

Don’t do things like what? Piss people off? Not train their employees? Make up stupid rules that have no purpose whatsoever except to offend? Yes, Chicago White Sox, you do those things like that and more. I stood by my earlier statement about not coming. I will never return to SoxFest as a fan or vendor. I don’t need to waste my money or time.

 

*****

It is easy to see why it is hard to be a White Sox fan. The team stinks on the field. It stinks off. There is little hope for change, and the Cubs are ready to truly take over the city. And since there is little hope for change, why bother? I can go anywhere and get treated like absolute crap and no doubt for less money.

 

I have written four books on the White Sox and the fourth will stand as my last. In doing my books, I received little cooperation from the team, and one occasion, had the organization press relations department sabotage an interview of mine. I can do without that aggravation, too.

 

On my site I have deleted all my earlier White Sox columns with the exception of a spoof on Steve Bartman. I had started writing columns on the team for a blog and have quit. I will never write one word on the franchise again as long as this ownership controls the team.

 

Will the team improve in 2016? Maybe. Whatever. It won’t matter much to me. I won’t be watching. I have had it and should have had it a long time ago. I am not going anywhere near their tax-funded stadium. They could lose and be completely overshadowed by the Cubs without me.