White Sox finish another season with poor television ratings, attendance. Front office complacency has led to mediocrity that has been present for majority of this decade.
The Chicago White Sox are watching the postseason from home for the eighth consecutive season. With the team struggling to contend in a city with two baseball teams, the Sox inability to reach the postseason the last two seasons has widened the gap between them and their Northside rivals.
The Sox not only are losing relevancy in Chicago, but the outcry from Sox fans for owner Jerry Reinsdorf to sell the team is becoming louder with each passing day. Its not easy to sell a team, but Reinsdorf hasn’t been the best owner as of late in MLB. This isn’t to knock his past contributions to Chicago with championships, but for both of his teams, those titles seem like a distant memory.
Reinsdorf purchased the Sox in 1981, and it appeared like the franchise would take over MLB in the early 1990’s. However, a labor strike in 1994 ended the Sox chances of reaching the postseason for the second consecutive season. This would have been a first in franchise history. Instead, Reinsdorf along with other owners at the time couldn’t come to an agreement with the MLB Player’s Association, and the 1994 season was cancelled along with the World Series.
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Also lost after that season was Sox attendance. After opening what was then called Comiskey Park in 1991, the Sox averaged more than 30,000 fans per game to its home ballpark from that season through 1994. Unfortunately, after the labor strike in 1994, the Sox have yet to average more than 30,000 fans per game for four or more consecutive seasons. The Sox came close after winning the World Series in 2005.
In 2006, the Sox averaged a franchise high 36,511 fans to U.S. Cellular Field. Despite having a 90 loss season in 2007, the Sox averaged 33,140 fans. In 2008, the Sox reached the postseason and averaged 30,877 fans. Since 2008, the Sox attendance has steadily declined. This isn’t primarily the fault of Reinsdorf, but since 2008 the Sox haven’t put many competitive teams on the field since its last postseason appearance. This season the Sox averaged 21, 828 fans, good for 26th in MLB.
Instead, the Sox front office has been rather complacent in its pursuit of another World Championship. From failed free agent acquisitions, questionable trades, and horrible scouting, the Sox have taken many steps back since winning the World Series. The person presiding over this mediocrity has been Reinsdorf.
The Sox haven’t had much success in luring premier free agents to play with the team. Sox fans have watched as other teams within the division are having success. The Sox are the only team in the AL Central that hasn’t reached the postseason this decade.
With the Sox currently in the middle of the pack in payroll, its frustrating for Sox fans to see teams in smaller markets outspending this team. Teams such as the Detroit Tigers come to mind. Although the Tigers don’t play in a major media market, the team’s payroll was fourth in MLB at the end of this season. At $203 million, the Tigers payroll has shown just how aggressive their owner Mike Ilitch is at winning.
The Sox payroll on the other hand sits 14th in MLB at just over $140 million. Now having a huge payroll doesn’t necessarily equate to success, but shouldn’t the Sox be spending more money than the Tigers? If Reinsdorf is as aggressive as Rick Hahn says he is, why hasn’t he made a significant splash in free agency?
During the last off-season in 2015, the Sox had multiple chances to sign premier free agents. Instead, they opted to go the typical Reinsdorf route and signed lower tier free agents. It came back to hurt the team eventually this season. Reindorf’s reluctance to spend more money over the past few years has put the Sox further behind other teams.
Not only are the Sox still lacking resources to become a competitive team, but their television ratings have been poor. The Sox ratings for this past season were an abysmal 28th in prime-time television according to Forbes. What this means is Sox fans are no longer tuning in to watch mediocre baseball. Although the Sox increased its prime-time ratings from 0.79 in 2015 to 1.00 in 2016, this still signals that Sox fans don’t want to put up with watching a below average team.
There must be changes made at 35th and Shields, but the biggest change needed could be Reinsdorf not owning the Sox anymore. How can an owner of two professional sports teams, enjoy seeing a sea of empty seats at Sox games? The Reinsdorf regime has done nothing but bring more frustration to Sox fans.
This organization could be better off with a new owner that is truly passionate about winning, not about providing lip service. Reinsdorf’s loyalty to Ken Williams has led this team into its darkest times in recent memory. The Sox mediocrity needs to end, and it starts with Reinsdorf.
If the Sox had a more passionate owner that cared about winning, there’s no doubt this franchise would become relevant again. Sox fans are truly hungry for a winner, and its time they had an owner of their favorite team that wants to win. If Reinsdorf continues to operate as he has in the past, the Sox could alienate its fanbase to the point of no return.