Wednesday, August 8, 2012

White Sox attendance? Truly a dull issue

Do you want to know what gets more old, moldy and boring than anything else? Constant “pontification,” so to speak, about why the Chicago White Sox aren’t drawing more people to attend their ballgames.

One of the reasons why I go out of my way to ignore sports talk radio in Chicago is that baseball talk will easily turn into rants about why more people don’t go to White Sox ballgames.

IT WAS JUST last week that the Chicago Tribune felt compelled to use the “heft” of its editorial page to rant about White Sox crowds only averaging 59 percent of U.S. Cellular Field capacity.

Which personally I think is a good, solid level – if not quite spectacular. Then again, I’m old enough to remember the days when ball clubs thought they had good seasons at the gate if they reached total attendance of 1.5 million.

Now, teams that fall short of 3 million want to believe they have failed. It’s just nonsense.

The newspaper claimed it was “call(ing) that bluff” that White Sox fans demand a quality ball club on the field before they’ll offer consistent support.

“SOX FANS, WHERE are you?” the newspaper asks us.

What a waste of newsprint. It strikes me as being one of the most trivial editorials the Tribune published since the day a few years ago that the newspaper felt compelled to endorse the television presidential candidacy of Matt Santos (played by actor Jimmy Smits) on the program “The West Wing” because in the show’s storyline, the Santos campaign got the endorsement of a fictional Chicago Tribune.

No wonder some people think editorials are a waste!

That editorial claimed an average White Sox attendance of 23,815 per game, compared to a more recent report by Crain’s Chicago Business that puts the average attendance at 24,188 people per game.

BUT AS THE business-oriented newspaper reported on the website, the increase is because the White Sox had exceptional attendance for their three-game series against the Minnesota Twins and the Los Angeles Angels.

And there is reason to believe that games will continue to draw well during the month of August, which means the average will continue to tick upwards ever so slightly.

Particularly when the New York Yankees make their lone appearance of the season in Chicago. That series always draws well (even that one season a few years ago when the Yankees didn’t play the White Sox in Chicago until the final three-game series of the season in late September).

There is a fully-legitimate reason why attendance was down in the early part of the season, although the people who want to engage in these rants usually don’t want to pay attention.

A LOT OF season-ticket holders dropped their plans following the dreadfulness that was 2011.

When a team does not have a high level of season-ticket holders who buy their sears in advance and get counted in the attendance figures even if no one shows up, they have to count on the whims of daily ticket sales.

Those people who just decide on the spur of the moment to try to go to a game. Considering how expensive all sports events have become these days, those people are more likely to decide to just watch the game on television – regardless of the team. Bill Veeck used to say that owners were absurd to think fans were obligated to support the local ball club – yet another tidbit we seem to want to ignore.

Which is why I found it interesting that Crain’s reported how the White Sox are offering partial season-ticket packages – trying to get people to buy in bulk for what is left of the season.

MY GUESS IS that come the off-season, the White Sox should be able to use this year’s success (particularly if the team winds up playoff-bound) to bolster their sales for 2013.

That will be the time when the team will gain the financial benefits of this year’s play.

And as for those individuals who want to say that all of this does not apply to the Chicago Cubs, I’d say they are the freak of nature. No one should think that they are the way a ball club ought to operate – on any level.

You want a real Chicago baseball debate?

INSTEAD OF RANTING about empty seats in the building across from the parking lot that once was Comiskey, ask questions about what is so appealing about ballplayers stumbling about in, as folk singer Steve Goodman described it, ‘an ivy-covered burial ground.”

Lou Novikoff was the Cubs outfielder back in the 1940s whose problems in playing major league-quality ball were related to his belief that the ivy was poisonous.

You’d think Cubs fans would be tired all these years later of ballplayers who do their best impersonation of “The Mad Russian” on the playing field. Why they aren’t is the real question we should be asking!


No comments: