Column: Faux SoxFest arrives at the perfect time for Chicago White Sox fans in search of some answers

Faux SoxFest weekend begins Friday, with White Sox fans seeking a proper substitute in the absence of the annual fan fest and the team trying to make some news in the dead of a Chicago winter.

A season ticket holders event Friday at the Field Museum basically takes the place of the traditional SoxFest, which was canceled during the pandemic in 2021 and never resumed. The Sox aren’t promoting it much, hoping not to look as if they’re simply responding to fans who believe SoxFest was canceled to avoid the expected griping.

As of Thursday, no media availability was scheduled for Friday’s event, suggesting the Sox want this to be a private gathering between the organization and its most loyal, paying customers. Hors d’oeuvres will be served, which also might explain why the Sox don’t want the media around.

The Sox are betting they still can garner media attention on a slow sports weekend in Chicago, without the bother or expense of planning a huge, multiday event.

On Friday, the Sox announced the return of SoxFest in January 2025 to mark the 20-year anniversary of the 2005 World Series team and the 125-year anniversary of the organization.

If the Sox make any news from the Field Museum, it likely would be leaked first by individual fans, perhaps via Sox Twitter (or Sox X, if you must), to the fans who weren’t invited. Obviously fans have many questions for the Sox brain trust, from the lack of major offseason moves to the Dylan Cease situation to the possibility of a new South Loop stadium.

There’s also newly signed broadcaster John Schriffen to discuss, as well as the one he replaced, Jason Benetti. And what’s the progress of the investigation into the mysterious gunshots in the left-field bleachers?

Any new theories, chairman?

If a normal SoxFest were in place this weekend, it would be the first time for general manager Chris Getz to explain his plan to fans, just as former GMs Ken Williams and Rick Hahn faithfully did most of the last two decades, with mixed results. A SoxFest without some creative tension is not a true SoxFest.

It would be a great opportunity for manager Pedro Grifol to explain why he expects things to be different in 2024, with a lower payroll and holes in the rotation, bullpen and infield. And marketing boss Brooks Boyer could explain how he plans to get people in the seats in a ballpark the team seemingly admits is not worth preserving.

Meanwhile, the potential South Loop Park has gotten a generally positive reception without any details being announced. Wouldn’t it be perfect to reveal the renderings at SoxFest?

Alas, for those fans who aren’t invited to the Field Museum, a Faux SoxFest will have to suffice.

What is that? According to reliable sources, a Faux SoxFest contains all the elements of the real deal, except without players to sign autographs, executives to yell at about their decisions or memorabilia booths selling action photos of former catcher Carlton Fisk tagging two guys out on one play at the plate.

At Faux SoxFest, there’s no need to drive to McCormick Place or a downtown hotel and pay for parking, an admission fee or maybe even a hotel room. All you need is a few chairs, some cold beverages and three or more fellow Sox fans to discuss the state of the organization. Malört is optional. Anyone bringing up Justin Fields is promptly shown the door.

Sox therapy is free to dispense and always welcome, no matter what time of year. A Faux SoxFest would reduce the team’s carbon footprint while helping fans relieve stress caused by the compulsive and unnecessary refreshing of the website.

It’s undeniable this has been a lousy winter for Chicago baseball fans, no matter which side of town you call your own. But the fact the Cubs held their downtown fan convention while the Sox had none is particularly galling to some Sox fans. A new season deserves to be celebrated in the winter, when there are no losses, no injuries and no random shootings.

Players are usually in a great mood, including Eloy Jiménez, who recently told A.J. Pierzynski’s podcast, “Fair Territory,” that he would hit more than 40 home runs in 2024 “if I’m healthy.”

That’s not exactly his MO, but it’s never too early to think big. The ‘24 Sox have to rely on Jiménez, Luis Robert and Andrew Vaughn to carry the offense, assuming they don’t deal Jiménez along the way.

But that’s a topic to be discussed this weekend at your local Faux SoxFest, where people are all the same — and where everybody knows your name.