Pre-SoxFest news blitz
This is pretty much the same title and topic as yesterday’s post, but in preparation of this weekend’s SoxFest, every notable press release and notable news item is being launched at the public in order to generate a vortex of hysteria that results in some crazed fan rushing the stage and hugging Harold Baines so hard that he’s coaching from a chair for the first two weeks of Spring Training.
For starters, brand new bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen claimed that this year’s White Sox bullpen has a chance to be “best in baseball, I think.” The statement came after Zach Stewart returned to the White Sox 40-man roster, so Thigpen must be quite confident indeed. Although this has to be the first time in a while that I can recall a bullpen coach making news with a quote, Thigpen’s message is a lot less boastful than his soundbyte, as he reminded that rookies coming off successful seasons like Nate Jones and Donnie Veal are not going to sneak up on anyone this season. The important thing in the end, is that Kevin and Thigpen are in agreement.
Addison Reed also says that he expects a Spring Training battle for the closer role, too. That isn’t the craziest thing, since he was mediocre in 2012 and there are other guys with saves in their career in the roster, but it’s also enough of a forgone conclusion that there are no hurt feelings when he pledges to get 40 saves in 2013.
Gordon Beckham spoke on last season’s collapse while participating with Addison Reed in sales calls to season-ticket holders–he probably made sure not to mix up the two activities. It offered him the rare opportunity to recycle statements he’s made about himself and apply them to the whole team.
Beckham on Beckham in 2010: “”Maybe I try too hard…I want it too much when sometimes I need to step back and just relax.”
Beckham on the Sox in 2013: “It wasn’t for a lack of effort. It was too much effort, and I know this pretty well: When you try too hard, the production goes down.”
Beckham on Beckham in 2010: “Now that I’m through I can almost look back and say that will help me figure out.”
Beckham on the Sox in 2013: ““If we get in that position this year,” Beckham said. “I bet we won’t do it.”
But the White Sox would like to direct the real focus on the actual sales calls, and not on the cyclical nature of player-speak. In a conference call, VP of Marketing Brooks Boyer trumpeted the successful early season-ticket sales that reduced prices and a less-angry fan base has wrought. He placed the renewal rate for existing seas0n-ticket holders as “above 90 percent”, in addition to significantly improved new sales over this point last season.
Boyer also promised that the team would continue to actively use dynamic pricing to adjust ticket prices to demand. The White Sox are maintaining their contract with StubHub, and Boyer dismissed the issue of secondary ticket prices with a comment of “that horse has already left the barn, but there’s no denying that the White Sox intentions are to lead their fans away from other sellers. Boyer suggested that people should check out the prices for September games currently to see how low it is, but in my brief scanning I didn’t see a notable difference. Probably a research project for later.
After being long rumored, and reported on by Mark Gonzales a week ago, the White Sox confirmed and released information regarding their use of 1983 throwback uniforms on home Sundays. It’s basically the next step from last year’s 1972-themed Sunday promotion, including a “retro race” with costume versions of Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle, autograph signings (that will take place on the entrance ramps, so no one gets caught in the rain or is baked to death), and of course, still further reduced prices for tickets and parking.
I tried to find out if there was anything interesting happening this coming season on the concessions front, but it’s still January, so while Boyer said that tastings and new product proposals were being carried out, there’s nothing tangible to report on that at this time.
There might not be anything tangible to report through all of SoxFest, at least not anything beyond re-affirmations of what we know, or expressions of uncertainty coated in confidence. But there will be activity and excitement, which is plenty after a long, empty winter.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan