The crummy weather in April has given way to summer-like temperatures on the First of May. Hopefully, the White Sox fortunes will see a similar reversal. Until that happens...I want to ponder a certain type of fan behavior that has bothered me for years.
These are the people who blurt WHY CAN'T YOU TALK ABOUT WHY THE SOX ARE SO BAD at Chris Rongey and Scott Merkin.
Yes, the White Sox are a bad baseball team right now. It is obvious to anyone who watches the games. It is obvious to anyone who looks at the standings. It is obvious to everyone. It doesn't need to be repeated ad nauseam.
What do you suggest? Firing Robin Ventura? Although I am not a fan of his attempts to get cute with the bullpen (his attempts to play the matchups are downright LaRussa-ian), firing the manager would not change the problems with the White Sox. If Ventura were to be fired, then Mark Parent would be responsible for fielding a lineup that includes three players who belong in Triple-A. The people who want Ventura to be fired at this point think a manager's only job is to tell players the following:
"You! Person who plays sports! Be better at sports!"
It's like the old Jerry Seinfeld routine about the person who opens the hood of their car hoping to find an on/off switch.
"Aha! The switch was set on off!"
"Aha! I told them to start being good at baseball! Why didn't I think of this sooner?"
By all accounts, Ventura is still more engaged than Ozzie Guillen, who simply checked out from 2010 through the end of 2011. The White Sox took infield practice before Tuesday's loss to the Rangers. Despite the result, it indicates a degree of effort on the part of the coaching staff that did not exist during the final years of the Guillen regime.
The main problem with the White Sox is that five of their starters are currently injured. John Danks won't return until late May at the earliest. Gavin Floyd hurt himself during Saturday's loss to Tampa. Jeff Keppinger is close to coming back. Gordon Beckham just got the stitches removed from his wrist. No word on when Dayan Viciedo will return to the lineup.
20 percent of the 25 man roster is on the shelf. So the results, while frustrating, are not indicative of what this season will be like going forward.
Earlier this year, I said the White Sox need improvements from Gordon Beckham and Dayan Viciedo to make up for the loss of production from AJ Pierzynski. Tyler Flowers has been exactly what I thought Tyler Flowers would be...a high strikeout guy who hits for power.
Adam Dunn is showing signs of emerging from his slump. Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez, Tyler Flowers, and Alejandro De Aza all sport OPS's in the .600 range. If the stats normalize, then everything should be fine. Or watchable, at the very least.
To the fan with unfocused rage, these things don't matter. They want someone who will assume that players aren't trying hard because they are soft. They want someone who will call for everyone to be traded because they are bad (what team would trade for bad players)? If they are truly angry, they want someone who will call for a fan boycott or some similar stunt.
LETS SHOW UP TO THE BALLPARK WITH BAGS ON OUR HEADS!
LETS SHOW UP TO THE BALLPARK AND THEN TURN OUR BACKS IN THE THIRD INNING!
Here's the thing about fan boycotts. The way the economics of baseball work, most teams are already sitting on top of a pile of money before the first ticket is sold. The White Sox can rely on money from an unbelievably favorable stadium lease, cable TV deals, stadium advertising revenue, and Bacardi at the Park. When fans show up to the games, the Sox get money from ticket sales, concessions, souvenirs, and parking.
So no, fan boycotts aren't going to work.
I firmly believe the White Sox are in a period of de-leveraging. They are going to ride out the "All In" contracts from 2011 while acquiring pieces for the Chris Sale era. Besides, the Detroit Tigers are structured like a Fantasy Baseball team. It's their time. No sense in spending unnecessary money to be "good enough" when the Tigers are simply good.
There are plenty of great reasons to go to the ballpark this year, even if the on-field product is bad. Baseball..in the outdoors...is still nice. My personal Sox attendance record was set in 2007, which just happened to be the worst White Sox season since 1989. Despite the result, I wouldn't trade those memories for the world.
I'm enough of an optimist to believe that the Sox can turn it around.
But until that happens....Go Hawks!
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