Thanks to your Patreon support, I don’t have to think too much about page views. Sox Machine generates a portion of its revenue from clicks, but I pay closer attention to visitor trends, because that’ll reflect if what we’re doing is holding an audience.
I really only check page views during the last week of December, just to indulge general curiosity about which story got the most traction.
The top post can oftentimes be one that doesn’t seem all that significant at the end of a year, like a mock draft, modest roster move or some quick-hit aggregation that catches Google News and/or Reddit at the perfect time. I welcome any and all traffic, because such stories are how Sox Machine adds readers, but it’s always slightly disheartening when posts that took real time and energy are trumped by ones that took 30 minutes. Spend too much time thinking about it, and you end up in aggregation-land.
Fortunately, this year’s page-view champion is uplifting … at least for me.
Sox Machine’s most-read story was the day-after breakdown of the White Sox’s breakdown on the basepaths, resulting in an 8-5 triple play on July 4 against the Twins. Thanks for validating my decision to watch that play 20something times, even if this image is scorched into my occipital lobes.
Among the White Sox personnel referenced in that post, Adam Engel is no longer on the White Sox, and neither is AJ Pollock, Joe McEwing nor Tony La Russa. I suppose that counts as progress.
Over at The Verge, Monique Judge advocated for the return of the personal blog. I’m pretty much a sucker for any post like this for obvious reasons, but one part jumped out to me:
People built entire communities around their favorite blogs, and it was a good thing. You could find your people, build your tribe, and discuss the things your collective found important.
We are now in an age where people come on the internet to be the worst possible versions of themselves, and it’s an ugly sight to behold. Take the power back by building blogs and putting comment moderation in place (it’s relatively easy on both WordPress and Blogger).
Trolls only thrive in an environment where they are allowed to run around unchecked, and that is what most of social media is. There are plenty of tools that allow you to keep those people out of your comments while still allowing those who appreciate your words, thoughts, and content to fellowship with each other in a community of your own design.
(Note: The Verge is a property of Vox, which is the parent company of SB Nation, which changed its commenting platform a couple years ago and wiped out every discussion from its blogs during my time there, which always breaks my heart a little whenever revisiting old SSS posts.)
The community is the vital part of doing this, because the hardest part of blogging and podcasting is sustaining energy without one, and that’s doubly so when the subject itself becomes a chore. Prior to the launch of Sox Machine in February 2006, I blogged every day for two solid months in private, just to make sure I’d enjoy the practice even if I didn’t get the attention.
Entering my 18th year of doing this, I’ve evolved into a a position where I’m more invested in White Sox fans than I am in the White Sox themselves, and I highly recommend it. You get all the benefits of fandom when the Sox win, but when they’re lost and rudderless, there’s still edification in presaging the issues, comparing notes and informing and amusing each other.
I think most everybody here has the same idea. I don’t really have to use a heavy hand with moderation because true trolls tend to get bored pretty quickly. Other members have entered with a troll-like heat, but they make the adjustment after some taking with their giving. Such situations tend to resolve themselves in one direction or the other within a couple of days, and I’d rather let the lifecycle play itself out than actively condition the discussion. Most people who spend time on Sox Machine want to get something out of the conversation, and I’m grateful for that.
Keep this in mind as we enter what feels like Late Stage White Sox. There’s reason to believe the Sox could win the AL Central in a surprisingly comfortable fashion because the division is inherently self-limiting. There’s also reason to believe it could all come crashing down because the team’s infrastructure looks downright rickety. Patrick wrote his post about the White Sox’s isolationism at the same time I was reading a whole lot about Southwest Airlines’ catastrophic disruption, and the problems spring from a similar source.
So why didn’t Southwest simply update its software and systems?
Well, if you are a corporate executive whose compensation is tied to stock prices and earnings statements released every three months, there are strong incentives to address any immediate problem by essentially adding a bit of duct tape and wire to what you already have, rather than spending a large amount of money — updating software is costly and difficult — to address the root problem. Then you can cross your fingers and hope that whatever catastrophe may be in the making, it erupts under someone else’s future tenure. Such bets often pay off since, increasingly, the plight of a company’s customers and employees is divorced from the immediate fortunes of its current top executives.
The White Sox are not publicly traded and they’re not subject to federal regulation, so there’s even less reason for Jerry Reinsdorf to make himself uncomfortable by demanding better from his front office. As much as anybody would like to peddle optimism, we have to brace for ordinary hardships causing extraordinary ruin.
Why keep following them, then? Probably for the same reason gearheads gravitate toward certain makes regardless of their track records. There’s emotional attachment over years and decades, sure, but there’s also gratification in intimately understanding why they fail. The satisfaction of a successful “Well THERE’S your problem” isn’t commensurate with the time and money spent on a product you know is substandard, but when you’re rational about your own irrationality, you can find your own fun. Happy New Year.
Happy New Year, all. I think Jim hit the nail on the head about why we keep at this. Fans aren’t getting much out of their relationship with the team, but there’s value in the camaraderie that brings when we’re all in the same boat.
I love baseball and the White Sox are my team. It’s too late in my life to decide to care about a different one, not that I really want to. They’re in my blood, even if that’s more pain than pleasure right now.
Too late for me too, but if I had to switch I’d sure go with an overachiever like Tampa Bay instead of…. Well, you know….
Sox Machine is probably going to be my only real connection to the White Sox this season.
I’m always the last to know.
Happy New Year to you Jim, and wife, and kid, and chief. All the best wishes for a great 2023. Maybe we will have a White Sox team playing some playoff games 😁
Same wishes to Josh, and the other SoxMachine staff. And to all SoxMachiners too. I love every article here, but I also love the comments section. There are plenty of nice people in here.
As we enter a new year, I echo this post to remind readers how valuable Sox Machine is. Jim took a chance leaving SB Nation half a decade ago, and I continue to be knocked out by the impressive content he, Josh, Ted, Patrick, and all who post and comment here produce on a regular basis.
The final week of each December is dominated by emails from various organizations asking for donations before the end of the tax year. I will start off January with a reminder that clicking the orange “Become a Patron” button to the side of this post is guaranteed to produce a return on your investment.
Definitely. Thankful to the crew for their excellent work and happy to support it further. May the Patreon tribe increase!
Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks to Jim and co-conspirators for keeping this site a must read despite the team it covers. I’ve been a Sox fan since the mid-80’s, was on the original Sox Machine, followed to SSS and back. In all that time, I’ve gotten much more enjoyment out of the fan community than the team itself. Here’s to another year!
Happy New Year to all. Seems like at some point Jim might want to consider publishing a Collected Blogs special edition that includes the two months of private blogging. 23rd century literary scholars studying the evolution of sports blogging may be interested in them. I start my morning with a cup of coffee and Sox Machine. Jim, Josh, Patrick, Future Sox, Sporcle Saturday and all the contributors are fun to read, and so are the comments, which are often insightful and funny.
Happy New Year to Jim, Josh, Patrick, Ted, and all members of the Sox Machine community!
I’ll be hoping 2023 is a much better year for the Sox, but if it isn’t, I know we’re still going to have a lot of fun on Sox Machine discussing, analyzing, and joking about their failures.
As I may have mentioned in the past, following one’s childhood baseball team from 8 hours away (Tel-Aviv) is much easier in our online world than when I first got here and used to beg a fledgling newspaper’s sports writers to save the AP and UPI ticker feeds so I could follow the Sox roaring to their 83 division title. But it’s still very difficult as most games take place while I am asleep. Sox Machine and its previous iterations have completely roped me in, educating and entertaining me on a daily basis and providing the oxygen that my dying embers need to keep the flame burning, even as our FO pisses on us and the still glowing coals.
Thank you all, especially Jim and the other mainstays and all of you in the virtual community. May we all enjoy a happy and healthy year, and would it spoil some vast eternal plan if we are pleasantly surprised by a division win and an enjoyable post-season run!
The content and the comments are without peer. May this be the year the White Sox are worthy of such great writing.
Thanks to Jim, Josh, the entire masthead, and all who chime in. This is my first stop every day.
I’ve always considered being rational about my irrationality a strength of mine. Giving credit to the White Sox and subsequently Sox Machine on that one
Damning with faint praise for 50, Jim.
And the answer is: “Sheets isn’t a strong defender either, but limiting the shaky glovework to just one outfield position is a step up for…” this dysfunctional organization.
From a mlbtraderumors.com (https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2023/01/how-al-teams-have-addressed-their-weakest-positions-of-2022.html) article on how teams have gotten “better” in the offseason
If it wasn’t for this site and SSS I would barely be paying any attention to the White Sox.
It’s you guys (and girls) that create the interest for me Thank you!
And, Happy New Year!
Thanks to the White Sox I have friends in 2 different countries and we chat daily.
And thank you Sox Machine for being there.
Watching the Braves, a team spending money and in the middle of their contention window, bring up recent third and fourth round picks and have them finish 1-2 in ROY voting, really makes me think I root for the wrong team. The only entertainment I get out of them any more is through sites like Sox Machine, because it helps to know everybody else sees the same incompetence I do.
Regardless of whether or not Jerry sells the team or spends any money, until this team becomes regularly successful with drafting and developing their talent they’ll never have sustained success.
I sometimes feel like I’ve moved beyond emotions when following my teams… that I’m mostly making fun of and analyzing their clearly doomed efforts. Mostly out of habit and having something to talk about with friends and family.
Watching the white sox tepid efforts to win and the bears purposefully become (and lose badly to) the lions has me thinking there’s no reason to get emotionally involved anymore. I hate so much about sports.
I’ve almost resented the wonderful writers and people here for not letting me ditch this undeserving franchise… but life grants almost no clean wins and every hundred years or so, the safe clicks and the prize is ours.
Hopefully good surprises are in store and if not, well we’ll just have to make each other laugh and think.
Sox Machine is the best thing going for the White Sox. I appreciate the content and community that has been created here. Deep down, I hope Sox ownership and the front office have a slight amount of gratitude for the work you do and additional interest you generate for the team. I am not holding my breathe on the last point.
The commenting system for SB Nation baseball sites only switched over in 2022, and we were told that within weeks, old comments would be restored to existing stories. Still waiting.
It is apparently possible to see your old comments through some arcane method, maybe clicking on username, whatever. The comment narrative is still gone. Not exactly as bad as having the whole of your actual writing production from beat coverage taken off of a site and getting locked away in some server farm like someone I know, but I empathize with Jim and all the core commenters from his SSS time. Another case of step forward, two steps back.
Happy New Year to all.
Thanks for the discussions, illuminations, education, banter, passion and most of all, the laughs.
I wish I had the stones to just write the Sox off, the way my head says I should but the heart wants what the heart wants.
I certainly echo the praise for the Sox Machine staff. But I also want to thank the rest of the Sox Machine commenting community. Like myself, you are a bunch of sick, pathetic people who don’t know how to get out of a painful fan relationship. Nonetheless, you all remain insightful, witty, engaged and decent. So thanks to everyone for everything, and I look forward to another year of horrible baseball but great company.
In the nineties my father used to travel a lot for work (I live in the Netherlands). He went to the states one time and brought back a VHS videotape of the ‘93 season. Based on that tape my two younger brothers and I picked our favorite teams. My youngest brother picked the Atlanta Braves, my other brother picked the Cardinals and I… I picked the White Sox, even though I had the first pick. I was so impressed by the Frank Thomas, Robin Ventura, Tim Raines and Jack McDowell that it was an easy choice for me as an 11 year old. Even though I could have picked a better run organization in hindsight. I think for someone living in Europe the White Sox are the perfect choice. It’s not always possible to follow every game due to the time difference (possible blessing in disguise), but the quality writing on this site keeps me more than engaged and I doubt there is a better blog attached to any other baseball team.
Oh, so you’re not just a big fan of Derek Holland’s horrible 2017 season with the Sox?
Always loved the nickname, 2017 performance on the Sox not so much. Just realized that ‘Dutch’ refers to being cheap in English, so what better team to support as Dutchies than the Sox 😉
great post, jim. spot on. very nice way to kick off the year. community building is hard, but it’s also incredibly valuable. really appreciate what you’ve done here, even if i’ve largely mothballed my sox fandom.
still can’t believe how badly vox dropped the ball. they totally misevaluated what the assets were. chat functionality on SSS helped enable a large community that lived online and off. led to so many meetups, merch, etc. so many opportunities for vox to monetize, but they completely dropped the ball. it would be hilarious if it wasn’t so unfortunate.
i also really appreciate your point about trafficked pages. too many people/companies get pennywise, pound-foolish with content creation to try to recreate whatever worked before. quality still wins in the long-term. i like your reframing of sox fans versus the sox themselves, too.
In 2023 the White Sox will win at least one post-season series, and Yoan Moncada will be Comeback Player of the Year.