Following last Tuesday’s defeat to the Minnesota Twins, I witnessed many White Sox fans on Twitter essentially give up on the 2022 season. While things look a little less bleak now that the South Siders have brought their division deficit down to 5.5 GB, it was still a disappointing series loss.
I’m an optimist, a die-hard fan, and I write about the team. Clearly, I’m not going anywhere. However, there are many fans with a looser bond to the Sox, who find little reason to tune in or go to games when the team is making no progress in the standings.
I can’t even hold anything against die-hard fans who are tuning out right now, of which I know a couple. While in attendance at the game vs. the Cubs in which Tim Anderson got hurt, even I planned to take a break from watching games/scores if the White Sox ended up losing that day. When you care about a franchise to enough of a degree, it can be easier to ignore them rather than deal with a rollercoaster of highs and lows that always seems to accentuate frustrations and dull elations.
Therefore, there’s certainly no shame in losing interest if you’re a more casual fan, especially as many question whether the team had invested the necessary capital to round out a winning club. So, why should fans invest time and money in return? A 41-44 team that fields poorly and homers rarely is not an inviting prospect for entertainment, anyway. Not to mention that they’re an ugly 19-25 in home games this season.
Guaranteed Rate Field attendance recently has been strongly linked to how well the team plays. In 2018, the White Sox were 25th in attendance out of all MLB teams. Then they were 23rd in 2019. Last year, in a 93-win season, their rank jumped to 14th. Currently, they are sitting at 18th, and the ownership and front office certainly count on high numbers for the rest of the summer while the weather is nice and kids are out of school. But why should fans who don’t just go to games for the experience show up to a September 8-11 series vs. the struggling Athletics, for example? Those contests will draw a lot more fans if the games actually mean something.
As dire as the situation seems, the White Sox are still in control of their destiny. Bluntly, the next two weeks will likely make or break the season, and with it, fan interest. Chicago plays four straight series against division rivals through July 24, including 11 remaining games against the Guardians and Twins. Losing the prior Minnesota series, a couple of games to the Tigers, and the opener to Cleveland is a tough start to this significant stretch, but the South Siders haven’t totally blown their chance yet.
If the White Sox enter August within a few games of the division lead, that should be enough to keep fans compelled. However, if they’re still hanging around 5-6 games back or worse, they’ll have given fans little reason to expect a big late-season run, even with the favorable division schedules. Quite simply, the status quo won’t do. The Sox need a sustained run of winning series, and they need it now.
Attending the “blackout” Game 3 vs. the Astros last October was one of the best moments of my life so far. A packed, hungry South Side crowd is unmatched in terms of fan experience. To Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams, Rick Hahn, Tony La Russa, and the players: Please get back in this race and bring back energy to the South Side. We could all use it.
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