Wait. The White Sox, not the Cubs, have the most satisfied fan base in Chicago?
Uh, not sure we heard that right. Maybe one of those thousand or so Cubs World Series rings flying around got plugged in our ears.
The last-place Sox, not the first-place Cubs who won it all 9½ months ago, have happier fans?
It must mean not caring about the outcomes of games is bliss, which is how it is for Sox fans, knowing 10 veterans have been traded away for 19 prospects in the last nine months in Phase 1 of a massive rebuilding overhaul that means losses in abundance now in exchange for reasonable hope of a Cubs-like experience in the future.
The Sox treated their fans to another crushing loss Wednesday, falling 5-4 to the Dodgers in Los Angeles after allowing three runs in the ninth, capped by Yasiel Puig’s two-run hit.
Viewed as a grumpy lot who’d be caught smiling only on days when the Sox won and the Cubs lost, Sox fans — and we don’t speak for all, but most — seem willing to endure a 95- or 100-loss season now if it means the first pick in the June draft. That would mean stockpiling another top prospect on their list, which includes eight of the top 67, according to MLB.com.
Not caring enough about the outcomes of games to leave the ballpark in a huff has to be a big reason why the Sox have the most satisfied fans in Chicago, according to the 2017 J.D. Power Fan Experience Study.
Team performance, fan loyalty and image did not factor into the study, which was good for the Sox, considering current records, that the Cubs own the town and surrounding area probably by a two fans-to-one margin and that the Cubs winning their first World Series in 108 years last November was the biggest sports story of the year, from here to all ends of North America and maybe beyond.
The Sox scored first, though, ahead of (in order) the Fire, Blackhawks, Cubs and Bears in the study, in which seven factors were considered: seating area, game experience, security and ushers, leaving the game, arriving at the game, food and beverage, ticket purchase and souvenirs and merchandise.
In fact, the Sox, with an 809 on a 1,000-point scale, ranked behind only the New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy and Houston Dynamo of MLS and the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers in the NHL among all teams in 11 markets.
The Sox are averaging 22,065 fans in 55 dates (27th of 30 teams), which is marginally close to what they averaged last season, when they finished six games under .500, so the team’s record isn’t keeping anyone away.
As one who has sat in almost every corner of Wrigley Field, old Comiskey Park and the Sox’ newer ballpark now known as Guaranteed Rate Field dating to the days of Banks, Allen, Jenkins and Wilbur Wood, I still love the charm, history and color that come with the balky peripherals at Clark and Addison and the old yard at 35th and Shields. What’s lost there at Guaranteed Rate Field was exchanged for comfort, space and updated amenities.
And the price is still right, fans say.
“I’m not surprised,’’ Sox fan @FreddieMayhem16 tweeted of the study. “You gotta take out a bank loan to go to a Cubs game. In some of the most cramped seating space imaginable.’’
“Cheap tickets? Great food? Modelo [beer]? A top farm system and a team headed in the right direction? I’d have to agree,’’ Sox fan Matt Bond tweeted.
“Can’t beat $7 tickets and great food,’’ tweeted Colin J. Prinsen.
If and when the Sox win in a few years, as they did in 2005 and drew an average of 28,923 fans (they pulled in 36,511 in 2006), $7 tickets might become scarce. By that time, win-starved fans will be more than ready to move on to the best sporting experience money can buy.
NOTE: When Leury Garcia homered on the first pitch of the first inning Wednesday, it marked the first time in history that the Sox hit a home run on the first pitch in consecutive games. Tim Anderson did it Tuesday.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.