I’ve spent the last 40 years as a die-hard White Sox fan. I come from a split family, my mom’s side of the family north side fans, my dad’s side Sox fans. I wavered in my youth, but then my dad brought me to my first game in 1982. I still remember the cloud of smoke hanging over old Comiskey Park that night as I walked out to an amazing view of the field from the upper deck. The Sox tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and as it went into extra innings, I pleaded with my dad to stay even though it was a school night. My dad relented and told me we would stay through the 10th, and we were rewarded with a Vance Law walk off after Mike Squires legged out a hustle double. Then 1983 happened, winning ugly, and to this day I can tell you stats and lineups from that exciting team. I was hooked. A decade later I was in New Comiskey Park heckling Rickey Henderson from the second row of the left field stands with my dad on one side and my best friends on the other as the Sox fell short in the playoffs yet again.
Then the 1994 strike happened, and Jerry, how could you put a few dollars over my team’s opportunity to go to a World Series? You cheated me, and I needed a break. I stayed away, even spending some time at Wrigley Bar & Grill, the world’s largest outdoor bar (wait, they played baseball there?), until the Sox did the unexpected and won in 2000. I couldn’t stay away, and I continued to follow the team through the magical year of 2005. I was in the stands for rainy Game 2 of the World Series for the walk off HR that is by far the best sports memory of my life. After the high of 2005 and the return to the playoffs in 2008, I thought my sons born in 2004 and 2006 would grow up in a new era of Sox dominance. We took advantage of Family Sundays, even getting a smaller season ticket package as my boys embraced their father’s love of the game and the Sox. Yes, the results on the field weren’t great, but the food was fantastic and we even walked the field as part of their little league day (with all Sox uniforms in their league).
When the recent rebuild kicked off, I was in favor of it. Let’s stop trading away young talent like Fernando Tatis Jr. and Marcus Semien, and try something different. The blueprint was clear. Sell off your talent, tank for a few years, supplement your young talent by signing a few big free agents, make a trade to fill whatever holes you have left, and win a World Series. It worked for the Cubs in 2016 and the Astros in 2017. You took the first two steps, and I was cautiously optimistic. Then you insisted on low balling Harper and Machado, so instead we got Keuchel, Grandal, and Encarnacion. Huh. After deciding to change managers, you overrode your front office to hire Tony LaRussa, who had been out of the dugout for over a decade. You mentioned recently that you believe Tony should get more credit for the job he did. Perhaps you’re right. Tony should get credit for the lack of accountability in the clubhouse, the mismanagement of injuries, the lack of hustle on the field, and the lack of baseball fundamentals the team has to this day. But compared to the expectations your own front office gave us, he underperformed at best. He was stubborn with his decision making (batting Leury 3rd, assigning relievers to innings regardless of leverage, issuing intentional walks with two strikes), didn’t know the current rules of the game, and literally fell asleep in the dugout. You were wrong to hire him, and you’re compounding that mistake by continuing to allow him to have influence on your decision making.
There are so many examples of how your mismanagement has led to this disaster. But the worst part may be how your recent comments about finishing second, third, or even fourth cemented what you clearly told David Samson years ago. No need to actually win as long as you’re close enough to get those idiot fans to fill your ballpark. You believed it then, and you obviously believe it now. I’m sure you want to win every night, but as many have pointed out, you want to win your way, at your price. It appears that you continually undermine your front office by meddling in baseball decisions. An owner who truly cares about winning would hire people who have earned their positions through performance and empower them by giving them an annual budget and staying out of their way. You recently said that when you bought the team you and Eddie Einhorn thought you could make better decisions than the current front office at that time. After 42 years, the evidence is overwhelming that you do not. Only 7 playoff appearances, and only one team in all that time that actually won a playoff series.
As this year has gone on, it seems like every week you shove another middle finger in my face. Signing a terrible human being in Mike Clevinger, cancelling SoxFest because you are afraid to face the fans, a shooting in the ballpark, it goes on and on. So a team in the middle of its so called competitive window is now likely to lose 100ish games. Wow. We’ve survived plenty of underperforming Sox teams but none so soul crushing as this year’s Southsiders. You hire a manager who is clearly in over his head from the only team in our division with a worse record, and by the way, that team also hired a new manager and they chose to take a pass on him. And don’t try to tell me that was Hahn’s decision. You had no problem meddling the last time you hired a manager, why wouldn’t you say something this time? Oh, right, Chris Getz has your ear and he said Pedro’s ok, so maybe you did.
So let’s talk about your latest non-qualified butt kisser hire for life. When Kenny and Rick were fired, sadly, my first thought was how you would screw this up by either promoting Getz or hiring Tony. Then 14 hours later Bob Nightengale removed his lips from your rear end long enough to leak Getz as the hire. Is it just because he was the cheap option? You said you made the change because it’s a results-oriented business, and then you promote the very guy responsible for the lack of minor league development. The same guy who after the Omar Vizquel issue blew up responded by praising Vizquel and promoting Wes Helms. Our minor league system continues to be terrible due to decades of mismanagement, and Getz has done nothing to meaningfully change the situation. But you promote Getz anyway because he is the first minor league director who ran the minor leagues the way you wanted it run. Just being wealthy does not qualify you to run baseball operations for a major league team. This is not the 1940’s, and Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson are long dead. You yourself said you have nothing else to do beyond owning this team. So I’m supposed to believe you weren’t involved in this mess every step of the way? I’m not buying it. If nothing else, this year has shown me what a complete fraud you are and have been over my entire adult life.
The twisted part of this narrative is that I still want to like your team, really, I do. But it’s hard to ignore this disturbing pattern of self-destruction. Holding the city hostage to get a ridiculously one-sided deal on a new stadium back in the 80’s and now a renewed threat of relocation, the failed rebuild(s), the continued refusal to model your organization after those who are successful, the unwillingness to actually sign top free agents at market value, the constant disdain for fans, it’s disgusting. The only conclusion I can draw is that I’ve been a victim of a 40 year grift. I have to take some responsibility for not standing up for myself earlier in our relationship, but I will not allow this to continue. I’m done lining your pockets until you no longer lead the White Sox organization. No more merchandise bought, no more tickets, no more cable subscriptions to watch a sub-par product intended to allow your great great grandkids to never have to put in an honest day’s work in their lives. I’m just done.
It’s not me, it’s you.
White Sox Wade
P.S. – I’m definitely still supporting Sox Machine and have even increased my Patreon support this year to recognize the great work they do that allows me to quit putting my money in Jerry’s pockets.