Paul Sullivan: You can star in the new Chicago White Sox ad campaign! Sounds like a plan, huh, Jerry?

CHICAGO — An email from the Chicago White Sox arrived in my inbox Thursday, the day after the announced opening-day starter, Dylan Cease, was traded to the San Diego Padres for a reliever and three prospects.

To my surprise, it was an invitation to help the Sox sell tickets for the 2024 season, which begins March 28 against the Detroit Tigers at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“Have you dreamed of being featured in a White Sox advertising campaign?” the email read. “Well, now is your opportunity! We want to showcase why White Sox Baseball is Better at the Ballpark! We’re looking for fans like you to submit your favorite White Sox gameday memories that could potentially be used in commercials, video ads, on billboards and more!”

This definitely was a dream come true. My memories of attending Sox games dates more than 60 years and includes celebrating Dick Allen’s walk-off home run against the New York Yankees in 1972, drinking in the visitors’ dugout on Disco Demolition Night, jumping on the field again the night of the division-clinching game in 1983, the last day at old Comiskey Park in 1990, the 2005 World Series and many arguments with former manager Terry Bevington.

I’ve always said baseball is better at the ballpark, unless you’re hit by a stray bullet, in which case you’re probably better off watching on TV.

But the Sox desperately need to get fans out this season to watch a team expected to struggle through Year One of the new rebuild, after trading or releasing most of its most recognizable names. And if the best way of promoting the Sox is getting other people to do the work of the marketing department, I’m all for it.

Every Sox fan can be Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese with a smartphone and a little ingenuity, perhaps even me. Having the White Sox use my memories in an ad campaign instead of the usual way of selling tickets — promoting your star players — sounded like a great way of reminding Sox fans they’re just as important as anyone on the team.

Sure, it would be easy to use highlights of Luis Robert Jr. or Eloy Jiménez to sell tickets, but what if either one is traded during the season?

“Change the Game” was the most recent White Sox campaign, centered around shortstop Tim Anderson and his bat-flipping ways. But that popular campaign became obsolete early in 2023 when Anderson began to regress and the team was on its way to 101 losses, forcing new general manager Chris Getz to “Change the Clubhouse.”

A youth movement like the one the Sox are currently embarking upon often can entice fans with hope for the future. But the Sox already used “The Kids Can Play” mantra from an earlier rebuild in the late 1990s. The old slogan “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit” could have been recycled into “Pedro’s Boys Don’t Quit” by swapping out former manager Rick Renteria for current skipper Pedro Grifol.

But making Grifol the center of a marketing campaign easily could backfire, as it did in 1996 when a print campaign featuring the Sox as comic-book superheroes touted Bevington as someone nicknamed “The Brain.” It ironically featured a cartoon of the Sox manager as having a giant brain, which was patently false to anyone paying attention.

This year’s campaign revolving around fan memories seems to have been inspired by one the Sox in winter 1995, when a series of ads titled “Dear Sox” asked fans to write their opinions or memories. That was during the strike, when the Sox were putting together a team with scabs to begin spring training, and it didn’t pan out.

Thanks to modern-day technology, almost every fan has a phone to shoot videos, so I’d expect many to send the Sox a clip to try to get on TV or maybe on one of the Sox’s social media accounts. Of course, you have to read the fine print in the consent form to find out how much money you would be paid if your memories are selected.

Unfortunately there would be no payday. Thanks, Jerry. And fans also would have to give the team the right in perpetuity to use the video “in any medium currently existing and hereafter developed.” I assume that means whatever replaces TikTok when it gets banned.

Undeterred, I opened my camera app in search of appropriate content and found a photo someone sent me from White Sox camp of former manager and current “adviser” Tony La Russa napping on a golf cart. Then I found a short video of Cease throwing a bullpen session at Camelback Ranch in mid-February. Neither seemed suitable for a “Baseball is Better at the Ballpark” ad campaign, but I’ll keep searching.

It might be all for naught. The Sox have seldom listened to any of my ideas over the years, with the exception of a trade suggestion in a 2021 column headlined: “Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel would look great in a White Sox uniform. Let’s make a deal.”

That one didn’t work out, and now Rick Hahn is out of a job.

Getz certainly won’t make the same mistake as Hahn, and his unbridled optimism about where the Sox stand after the Cease trade was impressive in its sincerity.

“Do we still have work set out to accomplish for us to work toward our goal?” Getz asked rhetorically during a videoconference call. “Absolutely. But present day, we feel very good about where the Chicago White Sox are, not only for our major-league season but certainly for the future.”

The future is a ways off, and who knows who will still be around by the time the rebuild turns the corner.

But for now, fans are the undisputed stars of the new Sox ad campaign.

So send in your memories. And please try to forget the bad ones.