The Chicago White Sox recently went to several youth baseball and softball leagues in the Chicago area with a tantalizing offer for the upcoming season: The team would sponsor the entire league, providing jerseys and caps for all of the players, along with free coaching clinics and training videos from big-league coaches, and the opportunity for all players to attend clinics at reduced prices.
There was just one condition: All of the youth team nicknames must have some variation of "Sox" in them. Many of these T-ball leagues have been around for decades, the Chicago Tribune laments. Gone are the Padres and the Cardinals and, oh yeah, the Cubs. Going forward, all of their titles will refer to the White Sox — their righteous benefactors.
It's a marketing coup for the White Sox and a sweet deal for the youth leagues in Oak Park, Elmhurst, Downers Grove and Elmwood Park, which can use the money they were going to spend on uniforms on everything else that pricey youth leagues need to spend money on. Of course, parents aren't universally pleased with this arrangement because of — they say — the monotonous and, admittedly, silly team names that will result. Some fear an "identity" crisis because their kids won't all be Phillies, or something. And they whine because people have to complain about something, even a gift.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Bill Sullivan, president of the Oak Park youth league, said details of the team names are still being worked out, but he expects some will carry names like "White Sox Yellow" or "White Sox Red." The teams that long carried the names of local sponsors will continue to do so, but instead of Cardell's Crushers it will be Cardell's Crushers Sox.
Sullivan said he understands some parents' confusion or frustration with the decision, but he said money the league saves on uniforms will allow it to invest more in everything from field improvement and equipment to scholarships that will offset league fees so more children are able to play.
"I don't really care if it was the White Sox that approached us or the Cubs, or even if the Colorado Rockies had approached us," Sullivan said. "It would've been irresponsible of us as a league not to accept this offer."
Right on, Mr. President. These complaining Little League Parents (redundant, I know) should realize that not every youth league team gets a nickname. My first Pony League team in Des Plaines, Ill., wasn't called anything. We wore maroon and gold colors and were sponsored by a local waste management company. And we still managed to win the championship despite these handicaps!
Really, the best part of the story is the Cubs fans in a snit over having to watch their kids play for the dreaded Sox.
Ryan Issel, an Oak Park parent and lifelong Cubs fan … bristles at the thought of his 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter donning White Sox uniforms.
"To go to every game now and see Sox, Sox, Sox, Sox," Issel said. "It annoys me. I think if it benefits the overall league and helps people who maybe can't afford it, then I'm all for it. But I don't understand why the whole uniform has to say 'Sox.' "
It's good of him to admit his prejudices. So, why can't it just be a White Sox patch? Why does it have to be the entire uniform? Because that's how Chairman Reinsdorf wants it, buddy.
Oh, and you're welcome. Play ball!
Big BLS H/N: @MattLindner