Sunday, July 13, 2008

I'm Just Now Starting To Understand the Depth of Jay Mariotti's Ability to "Windsock"

By windsocking, I mean the phenomenon Chris W described in the comments section of the last Mariotti post I did. When popular opinion seems to be going one way, Jay must take the opposite stance. Bears fans think their team has a shot this year? Fuck you, Bears fans. The Bears will be lucky to win five games. Cubs fans feeling down in the dumps about a losing streak? Fuck you, Cubs fans. The Cubs are the greatest and classiest organization in baseball. White Sox fans think Ozzie Guillen is for the most part taking their team in the right direction? Fuck you, White Sox fans. Your team hasn't even won a game since July 2, 2006. And so on and so on.

But here's the caveat- with the exception of the Ozzie thing, on which is mind is pretty much made up, all of these stances are 100% susceptible to being reversed in the event that popular opinion begins to reflect what Jay has been thinking. The example from that post was their acquisition of Rich Harden. As Chris said- basically, before the Cubs got Harden, that was what they needed to do in order to make a run and you were a crazy person if you thought they had a shot in the postseason without him. Once the Cubs went out and got Harden, however, Jay was the first to point out that he had some possible lingering injury problems and there was no point in counting on him to contribute in October. And so on and so forth.

So why did I write this lengthy introduction? Because I'm an egotistical blowhard, for one thing. But I'm also getting to the point of this post. If you click the "Jay Mariotti" on our sidebar, here are some of the things you'll find on the first page that Jay has said about the White Sox. (And this is just in the last six months or so.)

-...the Sox, firmly the distant No. 2 baseball team again in the nation's third-largest market...
-Hate to be cynical about Ken Williams' belated offseason attempt to redeem himself, but acquiring Nick Swisher only assures the Sox of one thing: They're a little better than the Kansas City Royals.
-Consider it one more reason, along with the extension given to Ozzie Guillen, that the Sox are locked in as Chicago's second-class ballclub for years to come. ("It" being the fact that they gave a new contract to broadcaster Hawk Harrelson. Apparently, to Jay, nothing screams "organizational measuring stick" like the guy behind the TV microphone. That explains why the Yankees have been so good for so long.)
The Sox are easy to loathe.
The Sox can crow all they want about their World Series title, how they beat the Cubs to the holy grail. At least the Cubs still own their dignity as a Chicago institution...
The team with no class almost spun a no-hitter. (Gavin Floyd, back in early May)
-This weekend at the Palmer House Hilton, snarling fans will continue a Soxfest tradition. They'll demand straight answers from general manager Ken Williams, who would have more fun sleeping naked at Wrigley Field in a snowstorm. They will ask why he left the rotation filled with craters, why he whiffed badly on Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera and why he keeps talking about a championship when finishing .500 seems like a -- cue the silly Hawkeroo -- ``stretch, stretch, stretch.''

This sample represents less than 1% of all the bad things Jay has ever said about the White Sox. So then, knowing how he loves this "windsocking" thing, I guess his article from Friday's Sun-Times (as a policy, we don't link him anymore, you'll have to find it yourself if you need the original for some reason) shouldn't come as much of a surprise.

Unfairly Snubbed, Sox Deserve Much Better

Especially from that nasty ol' Chicago media. Why can't they just support the hometown team?

Dadgum, Hawkeroo. Would you believe the records are nearly identical now? In fact, when weighing the difficulty quotient of playing in the superior league, the White Sox actually are having a better season than the charmed, beloved, gush-and-goo Cubbies.

Whom Jay has been gushing and goo-ing over for a good two months now.

Where this uprising came from, I don't know,

I have a theory about one such possible source.

and where it's going, I can't say.

I have a theory about which way you want it to go.

But "Sox In The City" is a boffo hit.

Please don't use pop culture references like that. Or obscure adjectives like that. Or awkwardly shoehorn the name of a team into a dissimilar entity such as a TV show like that.

Not that anyone is noticing.

That has to be an attempt at baiting. It has to be.

Grasping for respect as always, clutching the inferiority complex that never ends in a town that never changes, the Sox are dealing with a relentless trail of dissing that, admittedly, doesn't seem fair.

Damn you, Sox haters. If only Jay Mariotti could figure out who you were, he'd give you a piece of his mind.

They have one of baseball's elite pitching staffs,

I seem to remember hearing something about a rotation filled with craters.

yet none of their pitchers was named to the American League All-Star team.

This is the fault of popular opinion about the team, and has nothing to do with Terry Francona or the player vote.

They launched a crazy/mad campaign pushing the very deserving Jermaine Dye for the final All-Star roster slot, yet he finished second Thursday to Tampa Bay darling Evan Longoria, whose statistics fall shy of Dye's.

1. That's barely true.
2. Dye finished second in a five man race, and he beat out a Yankee. If you have a brain, you should be able to tell that that is reflective of an enormous amount of support.

The Sox will send merely two players to Yankee Stadium, upstart Carlos Quentin and warrior Joe Crede,

The Rays and Angels are only sending three each. The Phillies and Mets are only sending two.

while the Cubs had a whopping seven players named to the National League club, including two (Kosuke Fukudome and injur ed Alfonso Soriano) who belong only as hot dog vendors.

The Cubs have a larger national fan base. Again, not too hard to figure out if you have a brain.

And worst of all? Attendance on the South Side, a traditional Sox bugaboo that should be a non-issue after a World Series championship, is becoming a story again. Despite their success, the Sox rank 18th among the 30 big-league teams with a 28,915 average, down 4,225 bodies a game from last year and a revealing 7,596 fans from 2006.

Attendance numbers in today's game are largely driven by pre-season ticket sales. Therefore there's a strong one year lag effect on those numbers. (That's why the defending NL champion Rockies can be one of the worst teams in the league and still be on pace to draw more fans than they have in six years.) The 2005 Sox won 99 games and the Series but only drew 2.3 million fans, largely because the 2004 Sox stunk. The 2006 Sox were good, but didn't make the playoffs and weren't in first anytime after May. Yet they nearly drew 3 million, mostly because of the 2005 title and subsequent preseason purchases. The 2007 Sox still drew 2.7 million, because the 2006 Sox won 90 games. The 2008 Sox, even if they win the division, probably won't even crack 2.5 million, because the 2007 Sox stunk. But if they do indeed make the postseason, I would wager that the 2009 Sox (regardless of how their season goes) end up back in the 2.8/2.9 area.

This is a long way of saying that I wish Jay Mariotti had never gotten into journalism, and instead grown up to be a garbageman.

The company line blames gas prices,

Probably not true, but whatever.

but last I looked, the Sox primarily draw within 25 miles of U.S. Cellular Field and don't remotely compare to the Cubs as a regional attraction. When it's easier to find a parking space in the Loop than a Cubs ticket -- attendance already is nearing 2 million on the North Side, compared to 1.3 million at The Cell --

2007 White Sox, 4th place. 2007 Cubs, division champs.

I safely can conclude the obvious once again.

The smugness is just oozing off the computer screen, isn't it? That's what makes this so much fun. Sentences (or clauses, or whatever the hell you want to call it) like that are the reason I still enjoy writing for this blog 15 months after it started. No matter how obvious it is that they are wrong about something, leave it to jackassed sports journalists to "safely" conclude the opposite. It's beautiful.

Even in a year when both teams could win division titles, the Cubs own this town like, well, Batman owns Chicago in "The Dark Knight."

Gotham City is a fictional location that's mostly parallel to New York. And what is that "well" doing in there?

The Sox? No matter how much Ozzie Guillen yaps, Ken Williams preens and players make headlines by clashing in the dugout,

What kind of lowlife journalists are writing those headlines? Say something positive about those guys for once! Jay Mariotti is begging you.

they're still the other club in town, the afterthought, the alternative. Sometimes, it's very hard to like the people who run the Sox, but this summer, I don't mind acknowledging that I feel sorry for the entire operation. They deserve better, such as bigger home audiences.

At least he's consistent in identifying them as the Cubs' collective bitch. Still, here's an idea, Jay- how about they deserve better from you?

So why are fewer people showing up? The economy has some impact, sure, but perhaps there's also a burnout effect involving Guillen, Williams and their circus-like way of doing business.

We'll see just how burnt out people are in 2009 if the Sox finish 2008 like they've started it.

A day rarely passes without a Sox controversy, whether it's the federal investigation of a Dominican Republic scouting scandal or the argument Wednesday night between the level-headed Dye and volatile Orlando Cabrera. Personally, as long as the Sox are winning amid the disarray, I believe the fans should be pleased and flocking to ticket windows.

Jeez, this is creepy. Did someone from the Sox organization kidnap Jay's family and tell him they wouldn't be released until he said something nice about the team?

But they could be worn out by it all, waiting to spend ballpark money in August and September when the real drama plays out -- and not the ongoing Ozfest.

Possibly a worse/more shoehorned pop culture reference than "Sox and the City."

Later (this was my favorite part of the article)...

In campaigning for Dye, the Sox were creative to the point of lunacy.

Oh yeah? "Lunacy," you say? Well please, go ahead and tell me about all the madcap antics they pulled to try and get their guy into the All-Star game. Skywriting? Offering to pay off the other candidates to drop out of the race? Bizarre and confusing viral marketing? I can't wait to hear about the outrageous lengths they went to.

They had Guillen, players and coaches wear "Vote for J.D." t-shirts and stickers.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Stop right there. Let me catch my breath.

OK, I'm good. What else?

They posted messages on video boards across town.

That is completely bonkers. My computer's about to overheat just from copying and pasting the text into Blogger.

They flooded in-boxes of fans, making them eligible to win an autographed Dye jersey.

Never heard of anything like this before. Groundbreaking.

They even asked folks to support ex-Sox outfielder Aaron Rowand, who plays for San Francisco and was among five finalists for the last NL berth.

OK, and .... ?

This, too, defeats the purpose of trying to win an All-Star Game -- what if Rowand beat the AL with a home run?

So confusing. What is the point here? We followed this path to get here: Claim that the Sox did some crazy things to try to get Dye elected --> A list of those things, none of which was unorthodox at all --> Pointing out that the team also campaigned for one of their ex-players in the other league, which actually is kind of crazy but has nothing to do with Dye --> Complaining that that player might hit a game winning HR.

I think I'm just going to have to file this paragraph under "dumb" and leave it be. I can't parse it any more thoroughly than that.

The scheme officially went bonkers when the Sox hired a plane to display a banner: "Vote for JD:"

A-ha! My fault. They did do something a little wild. Not anywhere as cool as actual skywriting, but still a little out there.

This was done not in Chicago, but at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City. Huh?

Huh? I will give you one guess as to where the Sox were playing last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Don't overthink it. Hey, if you wanted to get a message like that to its target audience, which plan do you think would work better?

A) Fly the banner over the out-of-town stadium in which the team is playing, enabling fans (who, since they're watching the game and therefore probably interested in getting Dye voted in) to see it on TV and subsequently go online and fill out some ballots.


B) Regardless of the fact that no games are taking place there until after the voting closes, damn the torpedoes and fly the banner over USCellular Field anyways. Hope that the grounds crew subsequently goes home and fills out thousands of ballots each.

It's a tough call.

In the end, like everything else, the Sox came up short on the marketing end.

If only they could get a little support from the media every once in a while.

"It's an honor to see as many votes as we all got, that's unbelievable," said Dye, who finished not far behind Longoria, the recipient of nine million votes. "Just great support from everyone, the fans and my teammates. I'm happy to get so much talk about it the last four days. I'm just happy to be mentioned."

Such is the Sox existence, of course. Snubbed and dissed, they're just thrilled when anyone notices.

Way to be a gracious loser, Jermaine. You pussy. Here are some facts I'd like to conclude the post with.

1) Things Jermaine Dye could have said about finishing second to Longoria, other than what's printed above: zero
2) "Zany"/"looney" things the Sox did to campaign for Dye: 0.5
3) Odds that Sox attendance will rise dramatically in 2009: extremely high
4) Size of White Sox fanbase, relative to the average MLB team: high
5) Things mentioned in this article that the Sox should legitimately be worried about: zero
6) Last time the Sox were any good: 7/2/06
7) Media member most responsible for disrespecting the Sox: guy who wrote this article, which is entirely about how the Sox don't get enough respect


Andrew said...

The Dark Knight was filmed in Chicago, and Christopher Nolan has said that he made it obvious in both this and Batman Begins that his Gotham should look like Chicago. Just a heads up on that one.

Other than that, Jay just rules. He's so talented at so many things.

Bengoodfella said...

I love Jay Mariotti. I think he believes in his warped mind he is presenting both sides of the argument on Harden by flip flopping all over the place. What he does not realize is that because he argues so passionately and incoherently for both sides he looks like the douchebag he truly is.

All he has done is ride Ozzie and the White Sox for the moves they have made and now he is defending them. I think he writes shit articles like this so he can say he has defended them once when his critics (the entire free thinking world) call him a blowhard.

If Jay Mariotti were an 18th century writer he would have been hung in the public square.

larry b said...

Andrew- yeah, I mean, I've heard that. I kind of expected someone to call me out on it. But here's my issue- first, there are several long distance shots in Batman Begins where you can clearly see that Gotham looks like New York from a distance, in terms of the shape of the landmasses and water. Second, there's that scene in Batman Begins where Batman attacks all the bad guys down by the docks at some kind of shipyard. But Chicago, as far as I know, doesn't support much of a shipping industry. It definitely doesn't have a legitimate shipyard.

I know the movies were filmed there, and that fact alone probably legitimizes Jay's "joke." I was just looking for something to bitch about.

pnoles said...

I read this article a few days ago and didn't write about it. After reading this, I don't know why I didn't see it fit for posting.

I'm losing my touch, I tell ya.

Chris W said...

fuck you larry chicago has all kinds of fucking ships you fucking shithead bastard

whats ur problem? all kinds of ships!!!!!

Chris W said...

ohhhhh man this still burns me up i can't believe u say chicago has no ships.

u r so stupid.

larry b said...

no ur stupid i mean srsly no ships

PNoles- You probably didn't want to complain about it because you were so shocked that Jay was saying nice things about your favorite team.

Chris W said...

oh you have done done it now.

Maybe you haven't heard of them dyeing the river green


Bengoodfella said...

I am a little disturbed Mariotti posted a column and the entire discussion has been about the Dark Knight and which city the movie was set in. We should be ripping Mariotti a new one!

That is all I have for the pep talk. I way too pumped for The Dark Knight to open this week.

cs said...

Speaking of New York City... have you guys heard they're closing Yankee Stadium?

larry b said...

Which stadium? Who? Where?

Bengoodfella said...

What? I certainly hope they are building another one.

cs said...

Well, don't quote me on it, it's just a rumor. I've been checking the internet to verify, but I've got nothing so far.

And speaking of mysteries... I wonder what Brett Favre is up to these days? We'll probably never hear from that guy again.

larry b said...

You know what? It's a rare day that you can seriously say this, but I really think the media is handling the Favre thing correctly for the most part. It is a somewhat interesting story, and it's only 2 weeks old, so I'm not totally sick of it yet. And most of them have correctly identified Favre himself as the villain. Notably for that second reason, I'm actually enjoying this "saga" for the time being.

Bengoodfella said...

Larry, I think the media is identifying Favre as the villain, which is appropriate. The problem I see is that the Packer faithful will probably not see it the same way.

Anonymous said...

Another reason attendance might be down is not only the gas prices but also the construction going on. Usually it takes 40 min to an hour to get to the game. We went in early June on a Wednesday and it took 3 1/2 hours. I have only been to one game since and took the train and walked to the L

Chris W said...

that's what happens when you live in dekalb, duder!!!!!!!!!!!

JimArmstrong said...

Thank you for this write-up. I hate this guy and almost started my own blog just to rip into this asshole as badly as he deserves for writing this column. I'm sure he came up with this after seeing the Sox record since July 2, 2006 is now 163-175, and realized that he needs to find a new angle, before the team reaches the .500 mark.

larry b said...

Thank you for the tip, Jim. Apologies for not mentioning you (and the other dude who tipped this as well) in the article.

CitizenX said...

not only is yankee stadium closing, derek jeter plays for yankee stadium



look at me. I'm HoesHay GAYASS. i runnnnn fast and i'm like 9 years old. but i'm not as good as DErek JEETER to make the all star team.



larry b said...

Sober up, X.