Chicago is a Cubs Town or So It Is Said

 

It is tough to be a White Sox fan in the Chicago area. Not only are we in the minority, we are constantly accused of being ungrateful fly-by-nights by just about everyone. The White Sox have won only one World Series in the past 97 going on 98 years and that is our fault. If we only gave our un-conditional support to the team, post-season appearances would occur more frequently. No good bastard White Sox fans.

 Additionally, we live in a sea of Cub mania. For decades, the Cub propaganda has flowed like liquor at a wedding. Cub fans are cuddly. Wrigley Field is a shrine. Hope Springs Eternal. Haven’t won a World Series in 106 going on 107 years? So what. When it finally happens, it will be the greatest thing in the history of sports. Just ask Comcast Sports Net. That is what their documentary about the 2003 Cubs playoff fiasco said.

 But it has been especially tough during the 2014 season. The White Sox are better in 2014, but that isn’t saying much since the 2013 team lost 99 games in their worst year since 1970. Yet there is some hope the White Sox will improve even more as time marches on. Yet you wouldn’t know it if you read the Chicago Tribune. Because the Chicago Cubs are rebuilding and when the team starts winning, it will be the greatest thing in the history of sports. Who cares about the White Sox? Their fans are no damned good anyway.

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 When the Tribune Company sold most of its interests in the Cubs to the Ricketts family in 2009 for $845 million, Tribune sports editor and reporter Dan McGrath wrote how happy he was. I received permission from him and the Tribune to reprint the story in my book, The Cubs and the White Sox, A Baseball Rivalry from 1900 to Present. In the story, McGrath now said the Tribune Sports Department could no longer be accused of having a conflict of interest. The Cubs were owned by someone else now.

 McGrath even went further in defending his newspaper. He stated that the White Sox had received fair treatment and extra space when they merited it. Fans had just been flat out wrong, and now these accusations of bias could go away. The Cubs were owned by someone else now.

 But look at the list of the Cub Board of Directors on the Cubs web site. Aside from Ricketts family members, there is only one listing. The Tribune Company. Not a person representing the Tribune Company. The Tribune Company. And even though the corporate structure is a minority stock holder, the Tribune Sports Section is worse than ever when it comes to covering and lauding the Cubs and pooping on the White Sox.

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 I don’t watch the Cubs that much, but from what I have seen in 2014, they are better. Their first baseman Anthony Rizzo is having a break-out season. They have some good arms on the pitching staff. They seem to have some promising young players coming up from their minor league system. I don’t know when they will contend, but I’m convinced that they will not be door mats in 2015. The tearing down and rebuilding effort by Theo Epstein is beginning to show at least some results.

 Ask any fan what they would like to see when their team is losing. They want change and many times that change comes from calling up a promising player from the minors. Fans are happy to see a fresh, young face. So many times when there is a minor league call-up, that’s news, especially when the player is viewed upon as a potential game changer.

 Yet the Tribune coverage around two call-ups the Cubs made in August 2014 can only be described with two words: Biased and offensive. You can add shameless while you are at it.

 Second baseman Javier Baez was the first to come up. The news was announced by a headline on the top of the paper’s front page. I didn’t know that a minor league call-up was front page news. Sports section front page maybe. But front page of the whole paper?

 To be fair, the two articles that accompanied the arrival of Javier Baez were balanced, and they warned fans about falling in love with young players. But readers many times remember headlines more than stories and the front page headline was way overdone. At this writing Baez is hitting .188 after a little over 100 at-bats and has a ton of strikeouts.

 The next rookie was Jorge Soler. The interesting thing about Soler is that he hit a home run in his first major league plate appearance. He got the front-section-front page treatment, too with a nice picture with him with following through on his swing. Then on the front page of the

sports section was another large photo. You would have thought the World Series was won. Meanwhile, on the inside of the sports section was a small White Sox game story by Sox fan-hater Paul Sullivan damning White Sox fans for bad attendance.

 None of this is a knock on Soler and Baez as both may develop into solid major league players. But all of this was overboard for a team on its way to a fifth consecutive losing season. The Chicago Tribune is working hard to sell the rebuilding program to Cub fans. But selling a concept like that is something the team itself should do. Is the Chicago Tribune a newspaper or PR firm? Oh, I forgot. The Tribune Company still owns part of the Cubs.

 So now can its newspaper work on one more negative story about the White Sox?