By now, you’ve probably seen or heard about the SportsCenter bit that laid out Chicago’s major sports championships and omitted the White Sox 2005 World Series win. It got Chicago fans, including myself, up in arms a bit. Then I got to thinking, how many people outside of Chicago have forgotten that, a mere 11 years ago, the team from the South Side of the city won their first World Series in 88 years? It’s not far-fetched to think that a good amount of the country, save for diehard baseball fans, have forgotten.
Poor Ratings by 2005 Standards
The 2005 World Series between the White Sox and Houston Astros was, by all accounts, an utter flop from a TV ratings standpoint. It had an average of 8 million less viewers per game than 2004’s Red Sox/Cardinals series. At the time, it was the least viewed World Series on average (2006’s Cardinals/Tigers series would dip even lower in ratings).
For a Sox fan like myself, getting to the World Series was a dream come true. Sweeping the Astros was icing on the cake. However, a sweep is never great for the ratings, because you lose out on three opportunities for games, especially the game 7 viewership bump that tends to happen (2014’s Giants/Royals averaged 13 million viewers, but game 7 had over 23 million).
This was a White Sox or Astros fan’s series. I wouldn’t say it was a baseball fan’s series. Not to sound like a homer, but the White Sox were going to win this series the whole way. With Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko combining for 71 home runs in the regular season, and a starting rotation that had no individual lose more than 9 games, it was hard to see how Chicago was going to blow this opportunity.
And once the Southsiders swept the reigning champion Red Sox, and only lost once to the Angels, the writing was on the wall.
What Have They Done Lately?
The further we get into the new millennium, the shorter people’s attention spans get. And, as we’ve already covered, those short attention spans negatively affect baseball ratings, since so many “millennials” view baseball as too long and too boring. For a while there, you couldn’t blame them for that as pace of play took a nosedive and average game length reached over 3 hours.
Few casual fans want to watch a full 162 game season of 3-plus-hour games and they especially don’t want to watch a team with only 4 winning seasons and 1 playoff visits (re: 1st round exit) in the past decade. As a White Sox fan, it’s been hard to watch the team limp along since the 2005 championship. I can’t imagine how little non-fans of the team care. The “88-year championship drought” storyline was over the moment they hoisted that Commissoner’s Trophy. Now, the Sox are just another run of the mill team who can’t get it done, despite having a nucleus of young talent. When your biggest storylines of the past season, hell, the past decade, include Adam LaRoche retiring because the front office hated his kid being in the locker room and Chris Sale throwing a tantrum about jerseys, baseball fans aren’t exactly inclined to watch this team.
Even after a promising 24-12 start to the 2016 season, the White Sox went right back to the mediocre White Sox we’ve grown to know and hate. So when the craziest and most exciting story of 2016 sports is one involving the other Chicago team that’s in a 108-year championship drought and a Cleveland team in a 68-year drought, you can’t be too surprised when a sports media outlet forgets about the White Sox.
Also, let’s be honest, ESPN is kind of terrible now anyway.