I'll never understand how Cubs fans and White Sox fans can technically be from the same city. Last night, the Sox had Chris Sale taking the mound as they went for the first sweep of the New York Yankees at home in 21 years. 26,319 people showed up to watch that. That's less than 65% of capacity. More than one third of the stadium was unsold.
I posted on my Facebook page wondering what the hell it takes to get a White Sox fan to the ballpark and I got a lot of reasons from different people. One person suggested that the White Sox base crowd is now largely in the suburbs, so you can't really call them a major urban market team anymore. We got the usual the neighborhood sucks, the ballpark is lame stuff that always gets mentioned by Cubs fans when addressing Sox attendance.
That is all well and good for reasons why people don't flock to U.S. Cellular on a regular basis to watch the White Sox play the A's or somebody like that, but think about if the situation last night was the Cubs. Imagine if 23-year old Chris Sale was a Cub. He's 15-4 so that's the 2nd most wins in the majors. His .789 win percentage is 5th in the majors. He has a 2.65 ERA that is good for 7th. His FIP is 3.11 (12th). His xFIP is 3.22 (8th). His fWAR is 4.2 which is behind only Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Stephen Strasburg, and Johnny Cueto. He is 23 years old. He is going to be the face of that rotation for a long, long time if he doesn't get hurt and the Sox are actually handling his pitching load in a responsible manner without arbitrarily shutting him down for the playoffs like the Nationals are with Strasburg. That is pretty damn exciting. How much would you pay to see this kid in a Cubs uniform?
Wait! Don't answer! We'll also allow you to see him pitch for a team that has been leading its division for most of the year after the consensus was they were too old and overpaid to compete. Adam Dunn is resurrected from the dead, Alex Rios is playing like the guy the Blue Jays signed for a bajillion dollars, Kevin Youkilis has been nails since arriving into town, A.J. Pierzynski is having a career year. They're getting contributions from everyone. They come from behind, they add to leads, they hit huge homeruns, they play pretty good defense! They're a pretty fucking fun team to watch if you're not throwing up in your mouth because you're a Cubs fan. Now how much would you pay?
Wait! Don't answer! We're also going to throw in an opponent that has won 27 World Championships and 40 American League Championships in their history, always has a lineup full of top dollar stars, and until last night had the best record in the American League. And the Sox were going for a sweep. There was a chance to see the White Sox sweep the New. York. Yankees. This would give the team automatic legitimacy if there were still doubters out there, this was a game that could change everything. It was not just a Wednesday night baseball game between a couple of good teams. This was a moment you don't get very often. It was an event.
Again, imagine that is all happening for the Cubs. Is there any price fans wouldn't pay? Is there any location that Cubs fans would not flock to watch it? If the Cubs played the Yankees in that situation in U.S. Cellular, they'd be charging a couple hundred bucks for the last row of the upper deck and people would be buying them. They would be shoving their own mother out of the way for the opportunity to sit directly behind the foul pole.
Sox fans left over one third of their stadium (which they all claim is superior to Wrigley) unsold. This wasn't about the neighborhood. Who cares about the neighborhood for a game like that? You're not hanging out in the neighborhood. You're parking in a security-controlled parking lot and walking for 3 minutes to the gate. You can't do that to watch your Cy Young candidate pitcher go for a sweep of the Yankees? I don't understand at all.
There was literally no problem with last night for a one-time event like that game was. The weather was beautiful. The games before were fantastic games. Game 1 featured two comebacks fueled by HRs by Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Dewayne Wise and Adam Dunn. They also fell behind briefly in Game 2, only to tie it up and then have Kevin Youkilis launch a go-ahead grand slam. You can't ask for better lead-ins to a Game 3 sweep attempt.
The Sun-Times' Daryl Van Schouwen addressed this topic in his piece today including a Twitter quote from a Sox fan:
“Most White Sox fans can’t shell out a couple hundred dollars on a random weekday for a baseball game,’’ Sox fan Eric Galka posted on Twitter on Tuesday night.
The problem is, this was not a "random weekday." Eric acts like everyone is bitching about why the attendance is so low for a game with the Sox playing the Mariners in April or something. This game was a big fucking deal. Do you know how big of a deal it was? I wanted to go to the game just to watch it. I don't like either team, I live on the North Side, and I'm having kind of a busy week at work and I wanted in on that game last night. I would have paid $26 to sit in the Upper Deck just to witness a game like that. Games like that are why we fucking watch baseball at all. If you call yourself a baseball fan and can't get worked up about a game like the Sox/Yankees game last night, you seriously aren't going to get worked up over much.
For games like that involving the team you root for, you don't care about the prices, you don't care about the neighborhood, you don't care about the distance you drive or take the train, and you don't care about what time you have to get up for work in the morning. At least, I wouldn't care. I guess White Sox fans need more than that.
Kudos to the 26,000 that did show up. That was a hell of a game and a hell of series. It must have been an absolute blast to witness it first hand. I guess we'll see the rest of you in the playoffs? Maybe? If you don't have to get up too early the next day and the prices are reasonable, of course.