James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sox, Cubs, or Both?

As a kid on the Canadian prairie, I had a Cubs cap, but that was largely a souvenier from a Chicago visit. And that was a year the Cubs won the division. My first fall in Chicago, the Cubs won the division again. But by the early 90's I'd become somewhat partial to the Sox. They had Frank Thomas, and they won. By the late 90's, I leaned more to the Cubs again, largely because a good friend who was a HUGE Cubs fan. He cheered for the Nebraska Cornhuskers on my behalf, I cheer for the Cubs on his.

Still, I'm not an "either/or" guy. What I like about the Sox sounds like an insult, an affirmation of the Sox's status as a the "Second Team in the Second City." But it's not: If you wanted to go to a major league baseball game in Chicago, you could; you could go see the White Sox. You could count on tickets being available. You didn't need to plan ahead all that much, and you didn't have to be scalped.

The fact is, the Cubs are overbooked, overhyped, and overpriced -if not at face value,then at scalper's prices. Baseball stadiums have the capacity they do to accommodate the big pennant-race games and play-off games. Why should regular games, especially weekdays and weeknights, have to sell out for a franchise to be viewed as successful? Regular season games normally shouldn't even come close to selling out. There's 81 home games, after all, and they're not particularly important. Even the biggest fans have no need to attend more than a handful of games, and can follow the team by having the tv or radio on while they do something else.

People wondered why, during the Bulls' dark years post-Jordan, the team retained such high attendence. One person I heard on the radio said it was the same reason the Los Angeles Clippers stay in business - they were for people who were squeezed out of the chance to see the Lakers. During the Bulls heyday, all the seats were taken up via the connection of the rich. Now, regular people who wanted to see an NBA game in person got the chance.

The Sox give people in the nation's third most populous metro area the chance to see major league baseball. I've always liked the Sox because I knew I could go down and see them whenever I wanted. And they were almost always a .500 or better club.

While my Cubs fan friend e-mailed me and said "worst baseball season ever," I confess that I'm glad the Sox won it all before the Cubs. They've evened things up a bit. Had the Cubs won first, the Sox would have been forever marginalized and forgotten. And that would have bothered me.

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