Friday, October 21, 2005

Grudge match

Well, it’s World Series time and there are no Red Sox, or even Yankees playing this year. Sadly, our beloved BoSox lost unceremoniously to the Pale Hose from the Windy City. My friend and fellow blogger, Wisdom Weasel alluded to my “grudge” in comments he made over at Listmaker’s site, so I thought I’d give the details, still fresh in my mind, after more than a decade.

Having lived about 45 minutes from the fabled working class city immortalized by the likes of Carl Sandburg and Studs Terkel, I have a fondness for this city by the lake. I even attended a White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field, then known by its non corporate name of Comiskey Park. This might lead you to think I’d be rooting for the team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1917. I’d correct you with an emphatic, “hell no!”

You see, I hate the White Sox, or at least their organization. While it has undergone changes since the ill-fated game in 1993, attended by my then 9-year-old son, Mark, and my wife, Mary, the White Sox have always seemed like a second-rate professional franchise to me. Helping to cement that opinion, is that while I lived in the Midwest, the Sox were always the city's second team, regardless of how well they played and how poorly the beloved boys from Wrigleyville performed. At the time, the general manager was former major league journeyman pitcher, Ron Schueler, and the ownership consisted of Jerry Reinsdorf and little Eddie Einhorn, frequently vilified figures on the pages of the Tribune and Sun-Times.

Having gone back for a visit to the birthplace of my son, we decided to settle for a Triple-A version of a major league game, since the beloved Cubbies were out of town. That didn’t keep us from visiting the hallowed ivy-covered confines of a ballpark that epitomizes what ballparks should be. Even though the team was on the road, management had the good sense to recognize that fans might want to come in and have a look around and even snap a few pictures.

Visiting the “new” Comiskey was a major disappointment, from the nosebleed seats in the upper deck, which made it impossible to enjoy the game, to the lousy concession food (and melted ice cream—you’ll have to ask Miss Mary about that one), but the ultimate insult was the way White Sox management treated the youngsters. Prior to the game, several hundred youngsters (including Mark) waited about 45 minutes for an autograph. This ’93 White Sox team was a young club on the rise with players like Jack McDowell, Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura (and of course, Guillen), so it should have been obvious to management that young fans might would want their autographs. Just as the players were coming to the dugout, this 14 or 15-year old usher with an attitude began telling the kids wanting autographs to move. He was rude and insulting and I went down to see what the problem was. I ended up getting into it with a couple of other older ushers and told them this was horsesh*t!

I couldn’t believe that a major league team, especially one with such a small following as the White Sox, would be so arrogant as to treat their fans, particularly young fans, in this manner. The entire time I lived in the Chicago-land area (from 83-87), the White Sox always played second fiddle to the beloved Cubs. Maybe this is why? The Cubs never treated their youngest fans like this and neither did the Red Sox or the Montreal Expos, all teams that Mark had received autographs at their home parks. We even have had meaningful exhanges with visiting players such as Dale Murphy, Tim Burke, Tom Glavine and even managers, such as Jimy Williams.

I wrote a long letter to Schueler and this former big league piece of sh*t didn’t have the decency to even acknowledge it. So yes, Weasel, I have a grudge against Ozzie Guillen and the Sox and I will be rooting for the Clemens-led Astros this weekend.


weasel said...

Outstanding. This is a perfect grudge (I have one of similar intensity against Continental Airlines). And we know people and organizations can't change- just look at Al Gore :)

As I can never support any sporting combine from the Lone Star State (they are big headed when they lose, never mind when they win) but feel your pain over the White Sox arrogance and high handedness. I feel I should show solidarity with you in this case and will be cheering for the umpiring crew.

Listmaker said...

These are good reasons to hate the White Sox. But come on, give them a break - they don't know how to deal with you unless you're drunk and want to run on the field to beat up coaches.

Jim said...

I will say that I like Ozzie Guillen alot. I mean, what manager in this modern era of pitch counts and computer print-outs, trusts his gut and gets three complete games?

I did see a feature on the Sox and Guillen in particular, which mentioned how the Latino community in Chicago has been energized by this year's team. The reporter also mentioned the crowds at US Cellular were more diverse (read not as White) as Wrigley.

Actually, I haven't watched an inning and probably won't. Like many other N'Englanders, I've moved on to other fall pursuits (stacking wood, raking leaves).

Joe said...

Listmaker makes a good point about the Comiskey clientele. Apparently the assaults have been confined to the stands (e.g. the recent assault on Craig Biggio's wife) for the World Series.