Random Thoughts

Thursday, September 8, 2005, 12:15 pm

Today’s News

Nothing like winning a 1-0 game last night (certainly, it was the definition of "winning ugly") only to open today’s Chicago Tribune and read the following headlines:

Method to predict madness: Phil Rogers’ new system of rating playoff contenders isn’t kind to the South Siders

and

Sox scratch heads as fans stay away

Once again, we really appreciate the Tribune for its willingness to stick a pin into any balloon of enthusiasm caused by our seven-game streak.

This from an email correspondent and Sox fan this morning:  "I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that today’s Trib runs a game story that underscores how close the bullpen came to ALMOST blowing a game again and a side story on attendance. At least the subheds/pull quotes serve to almost apologize for the negative tone of the attendance story. I suspect (Paul) Sullivan’s "honorable mention" list of Frank Thomas embarrassing moments or an expose on the crumbling USCF is on tap for the weekend editions…"

First, let me offer my thoughts on the Rogers piece.  It really is unclear as to exactly what the new formula is (other than some percentages provided in a shadow box) and how it is used.  And Phil kind of explains in the beginning of the piece that what he is trying to do is pretty much impossible … but it seems to me that what this type of criticism of the 2005 White Sox boils down to is run production and one-run games.

A statistician probably looks at our season (we are 30-15 in one-run games) and explains that record (which is an anomaly) by randomness and good luck.  By a statistician’s view, we are probably just as likely to go 15-30 over our next 45 one-run games.

Someone else looks at the 30-15 record, has watched our team play for five months, and says, "Well, they have very good starting pitching, at times dominant, they have one of the best bullpen’s in baseball, they play good defense, when they are on they can manufacture runs in a number of ways, and they must have a pretty good manager making decisions each night.  I see how and why they win one-run games."

We are a team that would have looked much better statistically in years past, but ask any White Sox fan, and they would agree that this year’s team has a better chance to win games than the 2001, 2002, 2003 or 2004 clubs.

I believe one of the strategic moves Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen made this offseason was to risk going against the baseball grain (one that might have made us look better on paper and grade out better by Phil Rogers’ formula) by building a different type of team.  Will it ultimately play out in our favor?  We will see.  Are the 2005 White Sox actually setting a new trend that the rest of baseball may follow?  Too soon to tell, but we will see.

And perhaps it is just a coincidence that every time the White Sox seem to run off a winning streak this season, we are faced the next morning with a story that explains in some manufactured way, how we can’t or won’t win.

The thing I found most interesting in the "new formula" is that according to the Trib, the American League team with the very best chance in the postseason — Oakland — isn’t even in the playoff field if the season ended today.  Not sure I would take their chances over ours sitting here on September 8.  Would Phil?

And Then Attendance

Sorry to put you through this (assuming you have read this far), but I am sure it is frustrating for our fans to read again about attendance in a season when we are going to draw the fourth-biggest figure in the team’s 100-plus year history.

April, May and September are tougher draws for us for two main reasons … school and our season ticket base.  The first makes us a victim of our own success, in my opinion.  The second, we are trying to do something about.

Because so much of our fan base is made up of suburbanites, kids and families, school impacts us a great deal.  Midweek games when school is in session is a tough draw for many teams who rely on kids and families as their base.  Did you notice how empty fundamentals was last night?  Not a lot of kids in the park.  I do think this will change in the future, in part, because the city is continuing to grow around our ballpark.  The closer fans live to us, the more likely they will be to attend midweek games in September. 

April, May and September attendance totals are also very dependent upon your season ticket base.  Ours is going up, and we are doing everything we can to continue its growth, but we need to reach a point where we know we will have 15,000 or 18,000 "tickets sold" to every game before we even begin the season.  We aren’t there yet, but I believe we will be there very soon.  Last night, we sold about 4,000 walk up tickets.  That is a very, very good number and shows us that interest remains high.

Sorry to rant, but I just needed to respond with my thoughts on today’s news.  Humor me on this one …

Thanks

Whitesoxteam_1

22 Comments

You do statisticians a disservice with your comment. No one who know how to use statistics would assume the numbers existed in a vacuum. A statistician would would look at a 30-15 record and assume there was a factor influencing the outcomes (e.g. pitching). As an aside, it’s generally accepted that 30 measurements provides for a valid sample.

Only someone who didn’t know what they were doing with numbers would make the statement you attributed to statisticians. You know, people like sportswriters.

Scott, The article quoted Ozzie yesterday about the lack of attendance as well as Paul Konerko, they didn’t seem happy about the lack of attendance the last two games. Do you have any thoughts on that? And it is very undestandable when the game is during the week and against the worst team in baseball.

I cannot help but view the upcoming playoffs with some trepidation. Prior to the start of the current winning streak, the starters’ performance over the last 11/2 months was mediocre at best. We also seem to go into extended funks at the plate which we eventually break out of but which seem to return. While we certainly have dominated the division, the same is not true with the other playoff contenders except for the Indians. We are 6-5 against the Twins, 4-3 against the Angels, 3-3 against the Yankees, 3-4 against the Red Sox, and (this might be a curse) 2-7 against the A’s. I hate to find myself rooting for the Yankees to win the wild card but obviously the Sox do not want to face the A’s in the first round. While we certainly should have nothing to fear from the A’s, we just can’t seem to beat them.
So, we all hold our collective breaths as we march through September. The 7 games with the Twins and the 3 with the Angels may give me some peace of mind if we can win 7 or 8 of those games. But we have to beat quality if we’re going anywhere. Beating up on Detroit and KC does not alleviate my concerns. I’m not superstitious but I will keep rooting for the Yankees to win the wild card and hope the Angels hang on.

Scott,

I appreciate you responding the way you have to Tribune comments, they will bash us all the way through this wonderful ride, but I suggest going forward that you don’t respond to their ignorance. After all they own the Cubs, America’s “lovable losers” = America’s “jealous journalists”. What they don’t write about is how their company generates the revenues to pay their salaries by ripping of their own fans and pulling tickets from their fan base and selling them at ridiculous profits. Winning is not important on the north side and accurate, thought provoking journalism won’t be found at the Tribune Sports Desk.

Just a couple of quick thoughts…It’s very disheartening to see that after a bit of a slide, we are back on track with a 7 game winning streak, and the Trib can’t find anything positive to say. Stats mean very little, and you’re right..this is not your traditional team. There’s a lot to be said for intangibles, and this team is loaded with those. Only time will tell how Ozzie’s methods will do, but I’m optimistic. Finally, as a surbanite and die hard fan, two things keep me from the park…other-life things (as much as I’d like to, I can’t put all my energy into the Sox) and $$$. For 2 people to see a game with parking alone is $60. If money was no object, I’d be there nearly every game. BTW…although the Trib doesn’t recognize it, we are at a season-high 36 games over .500. HOW can they continue to ignore that??

Wow, tough crowd.

I can’t speak for Scott, but I think he was just making a general statement and not intending to tear down the significant role that statistics and probability play in the game.

Stats are funny things. You can make them do whatever you want them to, to a large degree. Sabermetricians think Kenny Williams is a poor GM…and we’re a game off pace for the best record in baseball.

Rogers’ piece was a house of cards. None of us are surprised by that…or that it was featured prominently on the front page. The Tribune needs to fill space, space they’re reluctantly granting the White Sox now that anything to report about the Cubbies–short of Greg Maddux’s stirring push for 15 wins–will be rightfully negative. Presumably writers charged with filling that space don’t think it’s particularly interesting to submit yet another story about attendance…therefore these are ideas generated by the editorial staff. The same staff that claims not to be able to do “anything” about the slant in coverage that takes place year after year in their pages. The same staff that dismisses legitimate criticism as whining.

If the negative slant had credence, I wouldn’t like it, but I could accept it. There’s been a lot of talk about smartball offense, but we can’t generate runs to save our lives. Why? What is Paulie’s contract demand likely to be, and will he be worth it (what price do you place on leadership)? Are there players to consider dealing at “top value” this offseason because we have ready replacements? What is behind any low attendance for the Sox (as Scott extraploates in the blog) and what can be done about it? Are Sox fans too tough (re: attendance)? Are Cubbies fans too dumb (re: same)?

I don’t think all (maybe any) of these stories need be examined when the team is the best in the AL, steamrolling toward October, with so many wonderful, positive stories to be told…the Ozunas, Dyes, Cuban Contingent, Hermies, Pods…of the team. But if the Tribune chose to intelligently or even constructively criticize, it would gain considerable credibility among baseball fans, whether you’re wearing Sox black or Cubbies PJs.

Dbrusa you hit it right on the head. I took my family of six to the game Sunday and had a great time. That cost me $200 which is more than I could really afford. We sat in the Upper Deck and had a ball. To hear this constant complaining and whining about attendance is sickening. It demeans us fans who do come to the games. I am not a trust-fund baby with thousands of dollars at my disposal. I work a job that I hate to make ends meet. Two hundred dollars is a significant amount of money to me and I reckon it is to alot of the fans I saw around me. I apologize for not being independently wealthy enough to satisfy the Tribune’s expectations. But all I know is the White Sox fans are for real. We go because we love to see the game live. We don’t show up because it’s the cool thing to do. We show up after making a foolish financial sacrifice that we really cant afford. It’s offensive to hear millionaires tell me I’m not coming out enough. I’m coming out as much as I can afford to with out having my power turned off. This isn’t Wrigley, it will never be and those who want to be surrounded by frat boys on a mission to score are more than welcome to frequent that dilapated dump.

Tell ‘em pterygoi. Bottom line: the demographics of our fan base is such a perfect reflection of our team. We are “grinders”. We work for ours. We aren’t your superstar prima donnas who have oodles of cash at our disposal. Wait till the playoffs if you want to see the place fill up with imposter White Sox fans and B-list celebrities

Please read this article and tell me your thoughts about our beloved manager, team leader, and pitching staff leader. I cannot believe that after getting the 4th best attendance in team history that these White Sox are talking this way.

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/whitesox/cs-050907soxside,1,2097452.story?coll=cs-home-headlines

Glad to see I’m not alone. If anyone who is complaining about attendance supplies me with free tickets….I’m sooooo there! :) By the way, it’s my husband’s opinion that the White Sox have better looking female fans than the Cubs lol And the fact that many of us truly understand the game and aren’t just there for a neighborhood party, well that’s just a bonus.

I’m getting to be such a “blog hog”…sorry. After reading the article on ChicagoSports, my first reaction was that we need to ensure that the team understands WHY I, and others, aren’t at the park more often. Perhaps they aren’t aware of the reasons. With Scott viewing the posts, I’m sure that the message will get to the team. Ozzie, Mark, Paulie, etc “guys…we love you, and would attend every game possible…money and a family/job gets in the way occasionally. We’ve been to 4 games this year, and I’d go again in a heartbeat…provided there wasn’t $$ issues, cheerleading practice, school open houses, etc.” Please don’t perceive lack of attendance as apathy. If not physically in attendance, I’m watching or listening to 90% of the games.

dbrusa,
I feel you. I too would be at many more games, but cannot because I live in central Illinois. I’ve made the trek to Chi-town 4 times already this year, with 1 more regular season game on my schedule, Sept. 23 against the Twinkies. I too love the White Sox, but was a little put off by their comments. I do however, watch every game I can on TV or listen to them on the local radio station that picks up the ESPN radio feed. I just can’t understand that even after drawing over 2 million, why anyone on the team would be commenting on lack of attendance. It could be much worse. And after all, they are playing the ROYALS, the WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL!

On one hand it’s sad that there is a focus on a few games’ attendance for such a good team….On the other, I moved to Vegas 6 years ago and am a lifelong Sox fan…do you guys know what I have to do to see my Sox live? Every year I have to retool my schedule to drive 4+1/2 hours when they happen to visit Anaheim. How many times a century do we get a team this special? I don’t care if the Sox are playing the Royals or the Kane County Cougars, Chicagoans are fortunate to be able to see this team..because some of us don’t have that luxury! Go Sox!…and I hope the Angels get the Wild Card

Bear with you? Scott, kudos and thanks to you for standing up to the Tribune.

For many Sox fans every game is wedged between two traffic jams on the apocalyptic Dan Ryan Expressway. But not for me. I live in Bridgeport and I’ve been to 14 games this year. I think attendance would go up consistently if the Sox would repair relations with the neighborhood and reconnect with the neighborhood by developing those parking lots — stores, restaurants, movie theater, bar — instead of surrouding the stadium with a moat of hot tar. Put the parking under ground. Give fans a place to spend some time and have some fun while the traffic clears out.

Amen..for a weeknight game, coming from the NW suburbs, we try to leave by 4 to ensure we get there by 6:15 or so. I truly feel for those Sox fans in other parts of the country!! Fans are fans, regardless of where they are and I salute you!

Don’t forget that the last 3 home series are against playoff contenders (I apply that term liberally to include Minnesota). Those of us who aren’t millionaires that can afford to go to every game are more likely to go see those teams rather than watch the Royals lose for the 93rd time.

I’ve spent more on Sox games this year than I’d like to admit. And at this point, I’m saving up for my playoff tickets. I understand what the players are saying, because I don’t like watching the games with a bunch of blue seats in the background either, but I think the comments to this blog shows that a lot of Sox fans have spent well beyond their means to support this team.

And I absolutely second psheehan’s comments about how disconnected the Cell is from the surrounding neighborhood. The Sox have done an amazing job remaking US Cellular into a great ballpark, but it would be nice if the team would integrate that park into the surrounding community.

But that can wait until after you win the World Series.

I’m glad someone brought up that we’re playing the royals during this stint in attendence. Also, buerhle and garland didnt pitch a game of the series… I’d imagine theyd get slightly better draws.

I, personally, have been to 5 games this season, and am happy to say the sox won every one of them. im planning on going to one more this year, during the last homestand when we’re playing a good team.

i would go to even more, particularly this season(i try to get to 3-4 a year), but as others have touched on, it’s a bit of hike from here out near joliet and it is costly. I work two jobs for a reason… and i seriously just cant afford to go as much as id like.

Any chance that with the team drawing better this year and likely to have another good year to follow that prices may go down, Scott??? Or maybe more promotions? Especially for days through the week when we’re playing tampa or kc.

What is this infatuation with our attendance? Sure, it’s disheartening to see empty seats at the park. But, do we honestly believe that no one is watching the game at home or listening to it on the radio? It’s quite insulting to us die-hard Sox fans.

If I’m not at the game, I’m glued to the tv. I haven’t missed too many games this year. I even have my friends give me text messages with game updates if I’m at work and I relay that information to all my co-workers. Sox fans are out there, we just can’t always make it to the park. I’m lucky to have gone to 17 games this year, a record for me.

One last note, be careful what you wish for Sox fans, you just might get it. I personally don’t like having to wait 15 minutes in line for food, or a beer, or to use the bathroom. Especially when Buerhle’s pitching. If you have a couple beers, some fifth inning nachos, and a bathroom trip here or there during a sellout game, you might be missing half of it stuck in line behind some fairweather fans. Or even worse, someone wearing a Prior jersey.

There are always going to be times when the “knights of the keyboard”,in the immortal words of the late Ted Williams, will be looking to stir the pot, as it were, and get quotes from players and managers regarding hot button topics, such as the attendance,which will always be a burr under the White Sox
saddle. Even if the geniuses

such as Rogers, Sullivan, Mariotti(especially Jay),Van

Dyck,Rappaport,et al, have to

invent someting(horrors, do they REALLY do that sometimes??)to fill space either above or below the fold

(or, in the case of the Bright One, before the agate

type and the death notices).They should reaqlize by now that White Sox fans are NOT going to spend their

hard eaned money to see a piece of garbage franchise like the once-proud Royals come in to take their lumps from the boys. Again, to the

press: THIS IS NOT WRIGLEY FIELD…PEOPLE DO NOT GO TO

WHITE SOX GAMES TO BE SEEN!!!

I hope I made my point clearly.

By the way, please forgive my
misspellings of “realize” and

“earned”…I just found out the keyboard I was using used

to belong to a Chicago sports

columnist,so the keys were

going to do whatever they

d***ed well pleased. Anyway, I

heard some bad news about the

Royals the other day. It turns

out they had to cancel Fan

Appreciation Day for this year

because the fan called them and said he could not come to

the game.

Nice one T.Q.!

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