SoxFest Tidbits

Soxfest_1

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cold, Snowy Thursday

I have some catching up to do, I realize.  SoxFest so dominates our Januarys that it’s hard to work on anything else.  The weekend was a big hit with fans (so the feedback tells us), although much of the media appeared disappointed that the anticipated fireworks never materialized.

But first, this story …

My phone just rang.

"Hello."

"Niiiicccee weather."  It was Ozzie.

"Are you here?"

"BLEEP, no," he laughed.  "I’m at home.  Hey, I just stepped outside.  Look at that beautiful boat sailing past.  It’s 85 degrees.  Sunny.  You really should be here." 

Giggles.

I won’t print my response.

So SoxFest

Among the funny stories and overheard comments from three days at the Palmer House Hilton:

Ed Farmer, voice of the White Sox on WSCR, recounted a story from last season.  Two Sox relievers were working on the USA Today crossword puzzle in the clubhouse before a game. 

"Moe’s brother."  One said.

"Larry," said another.  "You know, the three stooges. Look, it fits."

"Let me see," Farmer interrupted.  "No, it says, MOSES’ brother."

Ba-dum bum

Friday of SoxFest was highlighted by the annual media session just before Opening Ceremonies.  That morning’s papers were filled with anticipation of the annual fan seminar with Ken Williams and Ozzie Guillen.  The Sun-Times back cover read … "Fire Away."  Instead, of all the questions (I lost count), only one was confrontational.  Another questioner praised Williams and then asked a fairly tough question.  All the other questions were conversational.  So what did every television outlet carry?  The one tough question, of course.

So on Saturday, the media again attended waiting for blood.

"Yesterday was the countryclub set, wait until today," one writer said.

What happened?  Nothing.

On Sunday, Kenny arrived early to his seminar and just sat down to start taking questions from fans.  The atmosphere was tremendous.  And to the credit of the Sun-Times and Tribune, on Monday they finally acknowledged that perhaps public perception and media perception stood far, far apart.  Imagine that.

Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski attended one Williams-Guillen seminar to listen in.  At one point, Ozzie was talking about changes to our spring training regimen and how we were going to run the bases aggressively, particularly working on going from first to third.

At that, Paulie raised his eyebrows and said, "I’ll go first to third.  It just won’t be very fast."

In another seminar, Bobby Jenks talked about the mechanics of pitching and how he works on balancing on one foot in front of a mirror all winter.

"You look ready for the ballet," said Chris Singleton.

"I look great in tights," countered Jenks.

Bobby’s newborn son attended his first SoxFest.  Congrats to the growing Jenks family.

I walked into Saturday’s Family Party to see a live band on stage pounded out a rock classic.  They’re pretty good, I thought, although my kids covered their ears.  As I walked closer to the stage, I realized the "lead" singer of the Kareoke band was non other than employee Carrie McDonald.

The White Sox and Diamondbacks travel to Hermosillo, Mexico this March for an exhibition game South of the Border.  We plan to send all-time great Minnie Minoso along as a dignitary.  Minoso starred in the Mexican League during his playing days and will receive a well-deserved hero’s welcome back in Hermosillo.

On Friday, I travelled to Highwood with a former player and his wife to check out the newest sculpture.  It is always unnerving to see yourself in clay (so I’m told), and it was fun to watch his and her reaction.  As emails of the sculpture were sent out to children, the couple laughed at the positive responses.  Unveiling is tentatively scheduled for July 20 for this year’s addition to the outfield walk of fame.

SoxFest quote of the year:

"SoxFest is great," the employee said.  "I’m just glad there are 365 days to recover."

We appreciate the understanding of everyone at our cancellation of Jim Thome’s autograph session on Sunday.

Jim and his family attended a Saturday night wedding in Peoria and they were trying to get back (with two-month old and all) in time for the signing Sunday afternoon.  Jim insisted on trying.  I insisted that he was crazy.  It was just too complicated, and we told him to stay in Peoria.  Instead, Jim agreed to sign 400 photos and we will randomly pick names from among Sunday’s attendees to receive the photo in the mail.  I realize some of the people who came to lineup very early for the afternoon signing session were not happy, but we felt this was the fairest way to distribute the autographs. 

Jim still feels badly that he didn’t make it.  He called me today, and we talked about SoxFest 09.

For the first time ever, players posed at SoxFest for photographs with fans in a special photo-only line.  The addition was praised by fans and players alike.  It was a pretty cool feature.

Receiving praise was the perk of allowing access to hotel guests only on Friday night.  The special access alowed people to collect more autographs in a shorter period of time.

Many other fans enjoyed the VIP fast pass access to autograph lines.  We wish there was a logistical way to create more of these opportunities next year.

I’d love to hear comments, complaints and ideas for improving SoxFest from anyone who attended.

We’d also like your feedback in our questionnaire.

I’ll be shoveling snow tomorrow while Ozzie sits in a recliner watching the boats sail past. 

16 Comments

Thanks for the insight. I was not able to attend this year so appreciate the insight. The one thing I would like to see changed is needing to buy a weekend pass. I have 3 kids (which I would have had to ask someone else to buy a pass for my family of 5 because there was a 4 pass limit) It is nearly impossible with all our schedules to get both days to be able to go to SoxFest. I would have liked to have gone 1 day, but it wasn’t an option. I don’t know how the passes worked and if I would have been able to split with another family, but it would have been nice to have the option of one day. I’d love to hear other people’s stories so please post them. Hope everyone is keeping warm–spring training is around the corner!!

I went about 4 years ago with two of my boys, absolutley loved it. At $70 a pop, it was just cost prohibitive for me. I just don’t understand what the rationale was for requiring a two day pass. Maybe it’s so you buy for two days, only go one day, the crowd is smaller but the revenue is just as big. Even the fan fest seems to be more about the revenue than the fan, hence the hotel guests get the exclusive night, most likely because the hotel cuts the organization some kind of deal on the hall rental. Sour grapes, I know, but I just wish everything wasn’t always about the $$$.

My husband and I bought the weekend package and enjoyed the smaller crowd. Saturday and Sunday were packed. Enjoyed Saturday’s Town Hall mtg. and it did seem like a positive group. Having the autograph sessions on different floors was tough for those (like my husband) who couldn’t run up/down stairs…the elevators were very slow. But we had a great time and met lots of very nice fans (and Sox personel). Although, someone might want to tell J. Dye when Spring Training is…when I asked, he didn’t sound to sure:)

I always enjoy going to the soxfest. i loved friday night only being open to hotel guests….i wish all three days could be that way! The MVP pass-albeit a little pricey was great. Opening ceremonies were the best i have ever seen and i have been to every soxfest. The elevators were slowwwww, the players don’t hang out at the palmer house after the fest like they did at the hyatt because the atmosphere isn’t as good….I would have liked to see a lot more of the 83 team- where were lamaar hoyt? rudy law? carlton fisk? Richard Dotson? Floyd Bannister?

Also it would be nice for some of the legends of the early 90s be there like lance johnson, alex fernandez, wilson alvarez, warren newson…

i give the event an B+ this year and the only reason it wasnt an A was because of the limitations of the location (bad elevator,no lively afterhours) not anything the sox could have done.

One more thing- i always take off of work on the friday to go to the event and being a teacher (who obviously works with students) i think it would be great if the fest took place on the weekend before martin luther king day that way everyone can get a day off to recuperate after a great weekend.

I was very happy to see that this year’s version of SoxFest went off without any incidents, or any fireworks…
As Scott wrote in his preface, the print and electronic media were very disappointed, so it seemed, that Kenny and Ozzie were not “roasted over the coals” by the masses for the failures of the club last season…

Which begs me to ask the question…

Why is it that the Flubs Convention(aka “The Century of Non-Progress”)always seems to get a warm and fuzzy pass from their lemmings and sheep in fandom and in the media while SoxFest is supposed to be a blood-thirsty battle royal worthy of the WWE–granted without the scripting and pre-determined outcomes?

As to the complaints about the lack of activities,to all of White Sox Universe that attended who did NOT mind that there was not a whole lot of other things to occupy your time, I (perhaps)speak for the organization when I say “Thank You” for being happy with what was given you…

As for Mr Tucker’s comments that he wishes everything wasn’t always about the $$$…

Timothy, mon frer, you and me both…but not in this day and age that we live in…

When the Fest was at the Hyatt Regency, there was plenty of convention space for everything to be put on one floor for autographs, with a second for seminars and the rest…but at the Palmer House, there just isn’t that much room…if there is anyone out there who remembers the old Diamond Dinners that the Baseball Writers Association used to sponsor, there was just barely enough room to fit everyone in the Grand Ballroom there…the facility just isn’t conducive to holding functions the size of SoxFest…

There has to be a venue someplace downtown that could offer the organization a reasonable rental rate, so that the people who can only attend one session can be able to purchase a one day pass for any number of people…right, Donna?

By the way, before I slip off…thanks ever so much to the NY Mets for assuring that the Twinkies will be battling the Royals for the cellar of the Central in ’08…

At least Minnesota’s front office followed Quaid’s rule for trading…

Trade out of the league, so that they can’t come back to bite you when it would hurt the most…

Sounds like Soxfest went well, I really like what I’m hearing from the new base coach Cox. He seems optimistic about shoring up a dimension of the WS game. Not too big on Paul Konerko’s comments on 1st to 3rd (maybe the quote is tongue in cheek). Don’t expect him to set records in short distance sprints, don’t expect miracles running the bases, but dammit, some heart in pushing the envelope and stepping up is a small price for the obscene salary he gets paid, would be nice if he spoke with enthusiasm and a we’ll see attitude. Nothing is written in stone. Reminds me of watching Ortiz in the playoffs. Fat short guy (coming off an injury no less), digging out singles to beat the throw…… that phrase right there is one of the differences between the two Sox teams of 07 (I oversimplify, forgive me). Either way, looking forward to spring training…..

Great we have a future third baseman who has just alienated himself from the rest of the clubhouse. time to get rid of him!

THIS DATE IN WHITE SOX HISTORY: FEBRUARY 8TH

For more see, http://www.whitesoxalmanac.com

EL CABALLO IN THE STABLE

1994: The White Sox signed 17-year old Panamanian Carlos Lee as a free agent. White Sox Panamanian and Central American scout Miguel Ibarra recommended and signed Lee and it turned out to be a great move. While he struggled to find a position, Lee’s offensive numbers in the minors were so good that his defensive deficiencieswere overlooked. Lee served notice from the beginning of his big league career that he would be an offensive force. On May 7, 1999, Lee became the first player in White Sox history to homer in his first big league at bat when he victimized Oakland’s Tom Candiotti at Comiskey Park. Lee was an staple in the Sox lineup through the 2004 season, hitting 152 home runs. That total ranked ninth in Sox annals when he was dealt to Milwaukee on Dec. 14, 2004 for outfielder Scott Podsednik and pitcher Luis Vizcaino. It was that trade that played a major role in the White Sox winning the 2005 World Series.

Recommendations for the White Sox from a baseball fan.

1. Move the event. Palmer House has great architecture and a beautiful lobby, but the rooms are the size of a storage closet (unless recent renovations took care of that) and elevators are too slow for the majority of people there. Not everyone can handle stairs. I don’t know what the Hyatt did to tick off the White Sox, but might be time to make nice and go back there. If Hyatt doesn’t want the event, there are larger facilities that can handle the crowds.

2. Whose bright idea was it to basically hamstring people who want to go to SoxFest for just one day? The way it was set up, you essentially had to stay in the hotel to have a good shot at getting any passes for the event and you had to stay in the hotel for the Friday night opening ceremonies (DUMB MOVE, GUYS!)? I can understand people coming in from out of town staying at the hotel, but why would I want to stay at the Palmer House or any hotel in the city if I lived in Chicago?

3. Lower the ticket prices. This is not 2005. The St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up charges $40 for three days. This is a team that has a more rabid fan base than the Sox (and maybe just as rabid as the other team).

This is not sour grapes, just constructive criticism. I attended SoxFest every year from 2000-2007 but the new format makes this another glorified Cubs Convention.

That said, go Sox! Let’s have a good 2008.

The cost is ok with me as long as the profits go to charity OR back into payroll. The 2-day passes/hotel stay are ridiculous.

My last point on the subject…two day passes, smaller venue, make less than half the tickets available than last year, thus, a sell-out. The Sox finally sold out like their counterparts, reaching their goal.

personally i loved that only the hotel guests got to go on friday night. i live in chicago and me, my brother and father stay the whole weekend. It is a fun outing that i look forward to every year. get away from everything except for white sox baseball. (even if that means complaining the whole time like some years!) i agree with the elevators though. they are ridiculous you can stand there for a good 30 minutes and still not get one! I would like it to be moved back to the hyatt as well, but i would also like to win the lottery, bang tiffany thiessen and see another white sox world series…..it might not be in the cards though! gotta make best with swhat you got!

don’t look now boys and girls, but our buddy kenwo just made a funny. did the earth’s axis slip while i wasn’t looking? not only did kenwo sound human, but he made a couple of cogent comments that any of us would make ( except maybe Windy or Dawn or Maria)but, i’m NOT complaining. it’s refreshing actually, and unless i’m mistaken, the world will be back to normal no later than mid summer…. but who knows? maybe, just maybe, thiessen wants kenwo too…. lol to all of you and a good night from balmy (60 @ 9:50) tucson. see you all in a couple of weeks?????? j.k.

The teacher making funnies?…
Hold on, there, folks… there’s only room in this here space for one funny person…

Well, alright…maybe two…

Three, tops…

I would like to win the lottery, bang whomever would want to without the use of a restraining order,and see another World Serious myself…

These and other pipe dreams will begin to take shape in j.k.’s back yard (well, not REALLY…he does live a ways from TEP…)beginning this Sunday…

And, as always, at the beginning of each season, I pray for patience from the multitudes that make up White Sox Universe…

70 and 92 cannot be reversed overnight into 92 and 70…

but the longest journey begins with the shortest of steps…

Let’s just see wha hoppens…

Soxfest was an abject FAILURE.
This event is too large for the palmer house. It NEEDS to move to a larger facilty AND lower it’s prices.

hey. i went to soxfest 2009 with my brother and dad and it was great. we got autographes from konerko, wise, richards, russel, linebrink, wasserman ed farmer, and darrin jackson. we got all of those autographes with only a one day pass. it was a great event. the garage sale was really low priced. they had autographed photos for $5. i loved it. GO WHITE SOX.

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