The Cubs and Sox just finished up playing the worst-attended 3-game set of the Crosstown series that U.S. Cellular Field has ever hosted--95,808 total fans.
That's already not great sounding, but the Crosstown series carries a reputation of being the one series the Sox should always be able to sell out. By that measure, clocking in at the low 30,000's in attendance each game is abject failure. Worse yet, it's part of a trend; the second-worst showing came last season.
On the flip side, one might note that the two worst seasons for the Crosstown series have taken place since it was moved to the middle of the week, presumably to lighten the discourse in the stands and surrounding parking lots. One also might note, that one of the primary reasons those series sell out is the patronage of Cubs fans, who are currently suffering through a rebuilding season. There are obstacles to selling mid-week tickets at double the normal price other than the malaise of Sox fans.
But this is coming in the wake of Kenny Williams acknowledging poor attendance as a hindrance to future roster moves. Following that logic, if the poor attendance of the Crosstown series is really a damning assessment of Sox fan interest, then those same fans are doomed to watch Orlando Hudson, if they are indeed watching.
There's a quick reaction of resentment to such a statement. Fans aren't receptive to the notion that the shortcomings of the team are their financial responsibility, and there's reason for that. For one, franchises values plug ahead regardless of whether or not attendance benchmarks are met, and Sox fans already bankroll profit-making exercises for their team, willingly or not.
But the focus of Wednesday's Twitter rabble on the matter focused on the direct transaction, and that the team isn't doing enough in their pricing to draw more fans, nor sympathy.
They're certainly not going out of their way. As Chris Jaffe brilliantly compiled earlier this month, the Sox are firmly in the upper-third of baseball in terms of pricing, despite not having the intense demand their compatriots in that territory all share.
The pricing may match up with where the Sox stand in terms of highest payrolls in the recent year, but that's irrelevant. Fans are customers, not business partners, and the success and watchability of the team determines the demand. Since the Sox have delivered a single post-season club, but three losing ones in the six post-World Series seasons, faith in their ability to build a winner is low, making the high cost of paying ahead of time for success doubly unattractive.
If the prices are simply reflective of the cost of doing business in Chicago, or the attendance struggles are exacerbated by defiant fans lingering on past grievances, that's too bad, but also still the White Sox problem to fix. Fan objections to product and cost are not going to go away because they're asked to, and fan perception that they're being guilt tripped is hardly the result of an completely unambiguous--or completely positive --message from Sox brass being twisted around.
If attendance is truly this big of a problem, The White Sox should be going out of their way to prod fans to come see the winner they can build, not vice-versa