White Sox near bottom in attendance

Let me make this clear… I am a die-hard Cubs fan and always will be. I have never liked the White Sox and never will. Having said that, it still bothers me that the Sox can’t seem to draw fans for the life of themselves.

The Cubs, one of the 3 worst teams in baseball this year, are TENTH in attendance in the MLB. Being in tenth place in attendance is really not that great of an accomplishment for most teams. But when you are as bad as the Cubs are this year, being tenth in attendance is something to be proud of. The White Sox on the other hand, who, oh by the way are battling for their division title right now, are TWENTY-FOURTH in attendance. There is no way to sugar-coat that statistic whatsoever. It is flat out pathetic.

Living in the Chicago suburbs as I do, I often hear some of the reasons as to why Sox fans don’t go to White Sox games. They don’t like battling the traffic to get down there, they don’t like the location of the park seeing as how it’s on the south side (the area around the park is actually very safe nowadays), etc. Actually, some people dislike the Sox’ owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, and the policies that he has put in place at U.S. Cellular Field, which has turned them away from attending games.

Whether it is the traffic that you don’t like, the ballpark’s surrounding area, or the team’s owner, White Sox fans should be putting all of that aside right now and selling out every single home game at this time of year. Your team had been in first place for over half the season, and you didn’t show up! Your attendance is good for twenty-fourth place out of 30 teams. And now, with the regular season coming to an end and the Sox one game out of first, there is not a more important time to sell out every home game. I bet if you ask the players on the White Sox, they would unanimously agree that having a sold-out home stadium really helps them on the field. By not showing up, as has been then case all year, Sox fans are sending the message to the players that they really aren’t interested in the team or what they are doing on the field.

The one thing that prompted me to write this blog today is something that I saw while briefly watching the Sox game last night on TV. Apparently, it was “bring your dog to the park” night at the Cell. Now to me, that is about as low as any team can get in trying to lure fans into the stadium. I mean seriously. You’re in the middle of a heated battle for the division lead, and you have to implement this kind of promotional night to try and get fans to show up? That’s a disgrace.

The Sox are playing their final home series of the regular season this weekend against the Rays. You can bet I’ll be checking the attendance for each game of that series. For the sake of the White Sox players, I hope that some fans do decided to show up this weekend.

Bears Cruise to Victory; Packers Next

Sorry for the delayed article on last Sunday’s Bears victory, but better late than never!

The expectations heading into this season for the Bears have been higher than ever since the mid 1980’s. I wasn’t around back then, but I would be willing to bet on that last statement. With the additions of Brandon Marshall, Michael Bush, and Alshon Jeffery to their offense, many people have been predicting the Bears to have one of the most potent offenses in the league. Defensively, they are getting older, and Brian Urlacher’s lingering knee problems have had the Bears faithful, myself included, very worried.

It was pretty much a forgone conclusion that the Bears would walk away with a victory against the Colts this past Sunday, and they did by a final score of 41-21. Although the first 2 offensive series’ were dreadful for the Bears, they ended up turning things around and put on a great offensive performance. The reunited tandem of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall put on a show and lived up to the hype as Cutler finished with 333 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was to Marshall. Marshall ended the game with 9 receptions for 119 yards and one TD.  Another pleasant sight for us Bears fans was Matt Forte looking 100%, and Alshon Jeffery coming up with 80 receiving yards and a touchdown.

On defense, the Bears didn’t look like anything “special,” but they were good. Tim Jennings had his best game as a Bear as he made two interceptions and finished with 4 tackles. Brian Urlacher didn’t look bad, but he definitely wasn’t his normal self. He sat most of the second half once the Bears took a commanding lead. Major Wright and Kelvin Hayden tied for the team lead in total tackles with 7 apiece. The defensive line looked decent, but the coverage down-field seemed a little shaky. There were too many times when Colts receivers were being left wide open for big gains. Hopefully that was just a case of some off-season rust that needed to be shaken off.

Looking ahead now, the Bears next game is Thursday night in Green Bay for what should be an epic showdown. The Packers are coming off of a heartbreaking loss at home to the 49ers, while the Bears will be riding high after their win over the Colts. It’s not too often that you can say a Bears-Packers game could be a shootout, but that could very well be the case on Thursday night. Both offenses are loaded with deadly weapons, and the two defenses are going to have a tough time trying to limit the scoring. A couple of things to keep an eye on heading into this game will be the health of Greg Jennings and Charles Tillman. When healthy, these are two of the league’s top players at their respective positions.

My prediction for Thursday night’s game is that the Bears will come away with a victory, and I’ll set my own over/under at 59 points scored. Any other predictions?

Yankees, A’s have same record

If someone told you that an MLB team with a payroll of $55 million would have the same record as a team with a payroll of $197 million with just 28 games remaining in the regular season, would you believe them? Probably not. But, that is the case currently in the MLB. The Oakland A’s, who have the second lowest payroll in baseball, have the exact same record as the Yankees (76-58), who have the highest payroll in baseball.

This isn’t the first time that the A’s have been able to pull something like this off. Remember the movie “Moneyball” that came out last year? That movie told the story of how the 2002 Oakland A’s were able to compete with the highest paid teams in baseball, regardless of the fact that the A’s had one of the lowest payrolls. It is almost as though we are watching “Moneyball” all over again, but this time it features the 2012 Oakland A’s.

Give credit where credit is due. Billy Beane, the A’s General Manager, always seems to make the most out of what he is given monetarily. The A’s play in one of baseball’s smaller markets, in one of baseball’s worst stadiums (which they share with the  Raiders), and have the second lowest attendance rate in the league. That is a recipe for low income and a low payroll. Yet Billy Beane continues to put competitive teams on the field. He spends his money wisely and is able to sign “under the radar” players to small contracts. On top of that, the A’s continue to bring up quality players from their minor league system who were drafted by Beane.  The bottom line is that Billy Beane is a baseball genius. He is able to pick out the players with the most potential that were passed on by other teams in free agency, sign them to small contracts, and then get them to perform at high levels. It is literally unbelievable how he is able to do this time and time again.

This just proves that spending the most money on players in baseball is not always a guarantee to win the most games. Sure, the best players earn the most money, but that doesn’t always mean that they will make up the best team. Sometimes humbleness, hard work, and the love of the game prove to be the deciding factors in which team comes out on top at the end of the year. What the A’s are doing this year is no fluke, either. They have had even better years than this one earlier in the 2000’s with even lower payrolls.

It’s a shame that the A’s don’t get more attention from the national media. What they are doing and have been doing is something pretty special, and Bille Beane deserves a ton of credit.