September 14, 2012

I Hate the White Sox

EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of our ongoing Cubs/Sox deliberations, we asked two of our favorite fans to go head to head. You’re welcome. Joel Reese begins, and Tony Fitzpatrick responds.

OK, so the White Sox are fighting for a playoff spot, while my beloved Cubs will be lucky to avoid a 100-loss season. I’m not jealous. I just hate the Sox.

Why? I’m glad you asked.

Jerk-Ass A.J. Pierzynski
There’s a reason the Sox’s doughy-faced, frosted-tipped catcher is perpetually named The Most Hated Man in Baseball—24 percent higher than the second-place finisher Alex Rodriguez, according to one story. Whether it’s kneeing his team’s trainer in the balls or spiking the ball in front of an opposing batter who just whiffed, Pierzynski is clearly one of the most despised players professional sports—not just baseball.

As his own manager Ozzie Guillen put it, “If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”

Sox fans, let me spare you the effort so you can keep snacking on the Italian beef drippings from your mustache: “You’d love him if he was on your team, pal!”

Actually, I wouldn’t. There’s nothing admirable or “old school” about insulting teammates, arguing with your own coaches, and whining about an All-Star Game snub. It’s not called “competitive guile.” It’s called being a dick.

Dull-Ass Announcers
I’m a baseball fan. When the Cubs aren’t on, I’d be happy to listen to a Sox game. But I’d rather be slowly lowered into a vat of sulfuric acid while listening to Supertramp than tuning into their boring, self-satisfied announcers.

On the radio side, the sanctimonious, somnambulant duo of Ed Farmer and Darren Jackson are an insomniac’s dream come true. Warm milk with a side of old oatmeal is more exciting than this pair.

On the TV side…where to begin? There’s Smug Sto… I mean, Steve Stone, who solemnly bestows his ruminations on the game he invented. His ponderous pronouncements make Phil Jackson seem humble.

His partner is the universally loathed Hawk Harrelson, a well-rehearsed “good ole boy” bathed in cornpone and flopsweat. He’s going to give himself a hernia straining to earn icon status.

One of baseball’s biggest homers, Harrelson’s shtick is coming up with “folksy” sayings and berating the umps for daring to make calls against the Sox. When the White Sox lost on a walk-off homer earlier in the season, Hawk treated the event with 63 seconds of silence. I’d like to see him try that for next 63 months.

Ugly-Ass Stadium
I’ll grant you the food at U.S. Cellular Field isn’t bad. You can get Italian beef, churros, Cuban sandwiches, and much more. Congratulations.

But the stadium itself, where you’d actually eat said food, is a dull, dismal edifice born of underhanded politics and uninspired design. It’s an overturned cockroach lying supine off the expressway, a soulless beige-ish body with spindly black limbs stretched lifelessly upward.

Inside, it’s an assault on the senses—videos dizzyingly spin around the stadium, bad music blares, an over-caffeinated announcer shouts at you. It’s not a baseball stadium, it’s a Chuck E. Cheese with grass.

And don’t get me started on the boondoggle that stuck taxpayers with the bill for this monstrosity. But at least White Sox fans repay this taxpayers’ gift by not going to games.

Speaking of which…

Lame-Ass, No-Show Fans
It’s too easy to stereotype Sox boosters as shirtless, mullet-sporting, first-base-coach-assaulting Molly Hatchet aficionados. So let’s leave that low-hanging fruit for another day.

So I’ll just say this: Sox fans—all 21,000 of them or so—talk a crazy amount of smack considering they routinely fail to fill their stadium to even 70 percent capacity. Think about that: the White Sox, a team that has been in first place almost the entire season, ranks 24th in major-league attendance. That’s two spots ahead of the Kansas City Royals.

Ask a Sox booster why fans don’t go to games and you’ll hear a barrage of empty blather—everything from “the beer is too expensive” to “we only go to games that matter” to “I’ll kick your ass if you if you touch my Camaro.”

What you’ll never hear: “I guess we’re just not very good fans.”

To the contrary, Sox fans see themselves as misunderstood, put-upon victims who comprehend the game like no one else. Everyone else is a sellout or an empty-headed lemming.

Of course, Sox fans hate the Cubs more than they love their own team. Sox fans see every Cubs fan as a collar-popping, Dave Matthews Band-worshipping yuppie who uses Wrigley Field as a place to text his bros and hit on ponytail-sporting Tri Delts.

Here’s the thing, Sox fans: You’ve been around 111 years. You have one more World Series win than the Florida Marlins. The only thing you have in common with a dynasty is when the area around home plate gets muddy.

And here’s what Sox fans don’t understand: No one cares. Your team is the San Diego Padres of the American League. The 2005 World Series had the lowest ratings in Major League history, 40 percent lower than the average ratings of the 1990s. If the White Sox folded tomorrow, the rest of baseball would shrug and wonder how they could pick up Paul Konerko or Chris Sale.

There…now I feel better. This ought to tide me over until the Cubs win the World Series next year.

Game on! What does Tony have to say? Read Part Two here.