Looking back it shouldn't be a surprise. After all, it was White Sox fans for years who "made fun" of Chicago Cub fans for attending games. Thursday afternoon the Detroit Tigers were playing a playoff type game against the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers, who were up one game on the White Sox in the AL Central standings with seven games to play, won in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off single. The 33,019 fans in attendance in Detroit celebrated wildly. Watch the highlights and see for yourselves. The Tigers played like it was a playoff game, and the fans acted like it.
Meanwhile Wednesday night in Chicago, the third largest market in baseball, the Sox were still tied for first place with the Tigers with eight games to play. Every game from here on out would be a playoff type game. Yet a dreary 20,166 fans watched the White Sox lose to a bad Cleveland Indians team while the Tigers won again. That's about 300 more fans than the Houston Astros average per game. The Astros are 51-105. The White Sox had been in first place every day since July 23.
Detroit averages 37,567 fans a game in a city that was obliterated badly by the 2008 recession. Homes were abandoned, businesses had folded and people were struggling to survive day-to-day. Since then the auto industry was saved from extinction, but Detroit is still in bad shape. Despite these very real hardships, the people of Detroit find the money, the time, and they support their team. And even though the Tigers underachieved this year, the fans attended the games and willed their team to overtake first place.
Back in Chicago, White Sox fan support was so bad that opposing players took notice. Here's a tweet from Indians infielder Brent Lillibridge :
Brent Lillibridge @BSLillibridge
A first place team with only 6 home games left and the lower bowl isn't even full. Your better than that Chicago.
Brent Lillibridge @BSLillibridge
Was looking forward to playing against some crazy crowds and it was quiet until the 8th.
White Sox fans are so bad, the Cleveland Indians are yawning.
But let's get to the point of this. The White Sox players, coaches, management and employees don't deserve this. They don't deserve empty stadiums. But that's what they're going to get for years to come. Yes the 2005 Championship season brought with it a spike in attendance in 2006, but that was an outlier.
The fact is that the Bridgeport area of Chicago doesn't deserve a professional baseball team. They've had over 90 years to prove it, and they've failed. The only way to improve attendance is to move the stadium to the outskirts of the southwest loop of Chicago. This would put the stadium within walking distance of the downtown Chicago loop area and the suburb's Metra Train station.
This still sounds like an excuse though. Last I checked the Detroit Tigers don't send limos to their fans to show up. In a city that has suffered so much, and still has such a long way to go, the Tiger's fans gave every last dollar to their team. When the Tigers take the field, they do so knowing they are in the top 10 in attendance in a city that took one of the worst economic hits in 2008. They take the field with pride. They take the field knowing they are playing for not only themselves, but those fans that showed up every single game despite not having the money to do it.
What do the White Sox have to play for? The extra 8,000 fans that show up for half price Mondays? Or maybe the extra 5,000 fans that show up for dollar hot dog Thursdays?
I grew up a White Sox fan and because of that I'm embarrassed.
Detroit, have fun in the playoffs, your fans and city deserve it.