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Professional

MLB: Sox should embrace the snubs

With young stars like Yoan Moncada, the White Sox could be well-known soon, but for now, they are often forgotten – most recently by “Wheel of Fortune”. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)
With young stars like Yoan Moncada, the White Sox could be well-known soon, but for now, they are often forgotten – most recently by “Wheel of Fortune”. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS)

The latest slap to the White Sox’s face brought a rapid response from their usually humor-challenged Twitter account.

After some Sox fans noted the answers to a “Wheel of Fortune” puzzle featured every major Chicago sports team but the Sox, a photo of the puzzle board immediately spread on Twitter. Every slight can be magnified on social media, and the perturbed masses reacted as you would expect.

The Sox’s Twitter account then joined in, tweeting a Photoshopped version of the puzzle board with “White Sox” added and the reply: “Here we fixed it, @WheelofFortune.”

Advantage, Sox.

But then a “Wheel of Fortune” spokeswoman told the Tribune’s Phil Thompson it wasn’t really a snub – the puzzle in question used only “single-word, interlocking answers.” Using “Whitesox” would have been against the “Wheel of Fortune” rules, and everyone knows the game show doesn’t allow rule challenges.

But the show’s response didn’t matter. A snub is a snub, and this latest one won’t soon be forgotten. Any time the Sox sense a snub, it quickly becomes another chapter in the long-running soap opera “Sox versus the World.”

The only difference in this episode was, the disrespect was shown by a game show instead of the media. Poor, pitiful Sox. Can’t buy a break, much less a vowel.

If the Sox were smart, they would use these alleged slights to their advantage, accepting their fate as a local cult favorite and marketing themselves as the town’s one true underdog. A creative slogan would be a good start:

“Chicago’s other ballclub.”

“Hey, we’re over here.”

“The Few. The Proud. The Snubbed.”

“Come for the food, stay for the game.”

“Ligue-free since 2003.”

“Try Not to Snub.”

I’m sure Sox marketing guru Brooks Boyer or the team’s social media employees can come up with some better ones if they put their minds to it.

Of course, this overwhelming feeling of being disrespected is nothing new on the South Side. In his 1962 autobiography, “Veeck as in Wreck,” former Sox owner Bill Veeck wrote of the difficulties of erasing common perceptions about going to ballgames at 35th and Shields:

“The problem of attracting other Chicagoans to the games, particularly women, was complicated by the noisome reputation of Comiskey Park, a problem made even more difficult by the competition of ‘Beautiful Wrigley Field’ on the other side of town. Comiskey Park is in the grimy, back-of-the-yards section of the South Side, and though it was basically a sound and solid structure, the maintenance had been so completely neglected over the years that it had all the appearances of an outdoor slum. … You did not want to walk your dog at night unless you wanted both yourself and the dog mugged.”

Veeck never was shy to point out the lack of respect for the organization, and once measured column inches in the Chicago newspapers to show how much more coverage the Cubs received than his Sox. He has been dead for 32 years, but that basic message has been passed down from generation to generation of Sox fans, making my family holiday gatherings rather awkward.

Fortunately another season looms, and Sox fans already are in midseason form.

Just on Tuesday I received a long, typed letter from a 62-year-old Sox fan chronicling the disparity in newspaper
coverage of the two teams. He chose to use a week in January that coincided with the Cubs Convention as evidence of the pro-Cubs bias, but otherwise made a valid argument.

Another longtime fan sent an email informing me “the red-headed stepchild is being overlooked … throw us a bone or an acorn.”

If the Sox’s prospects live up to their hype, the team should have plenty of acorns in 2018.

Year 2 of the rebuild begins Tuesday, when Chicago’s cult favorites gather at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., for the start of camp.

The overriding message from serially snubbed Sox fans is crystal clear.

Attention must be paid.

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