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By Brad Spencer
The Chicago White Sox made Oak Park Youth Baseball/Softball an offer it couldn't refuse, which means it's the end of the world as we know it.
The Sox are providing the local youth league, and a few others in the suburbs, with uniforms. Every kid playing ball for OPYB/S, beginning this spring, will be outfitted in a jersey and ballcap with the Sox logo displayed prominently. It's unsettling for a Cubs fan like myself, but I also realize it's something exceptionally petty to brood over … that is, for an extended period of time.
Is this a generous gift or a brilliant marketing tactic? Or, perhaps, it's something else.
The partnership saves OPYB/S a lot of money, though registration fees will not decrease. Nothing ever decreases these days except property values. The money saved, I've been told, will go to other programs.
You can't blame OPYB/S for accepting the offer. If I were president of the league and Victoria's Secret wanted to boost our operating budget by supplying us with uniforms as long as the coaches wore angel wings and sequined push-up bras over their jerseys during games, I'd probably consider it (and not for my own amusement). We live in a time of Fleet Centers, FedEx Fields, and Comerica Parks. Everything can be bought and sold.
But let's call this what it really is: A desperate ploy by the White Sox to gain and retain fans. Pathetic on my part, but I feel better getting that off my chest.
And what if this is only the beginning? What if someday we see Oak Park police officers wearing uniforms with a Sox logo above their badges?
I don't hate the White Sox — not like I do the Packers, Notre Dame football and green beans — but I don't follow the White Sox either. About the only time I hear anything about the South Side team's doings is through my boss, Dan Haley, or my neighbor, Paul Thiese, who are both avid Sox fans. (Just for the record, they don't hate the Cubs either.)
If the White Sox truly wanted this to be a genuine gift for the loyalty that OPYB/S has shown by organizing a Sox Night for players and parents annually for the past 32 years, then they should have agreed to supply the league with uniforms minus their logo.
Why, you ask?
It's sad and maybe even a little disturbing, but baseball is a religion to some folks, with allegiances passed down from generation to generation. A Sox ballcap wouldn't last long in my house. A Sox jersey on me — or anyone in my family, I'm pretty certain — would look as perplexing as wearing black wingtip dress shoes with cargo shorts. But I'll cross that bridge — or make an appointment with a therapist — beginning this spring when my daughters yet again partake in the softball season.
Yes, the White Sox will soon enter into our domain. And, hopefully, the universe will not explode, the sky will not fall, and the earth will not collapse. But I'm only speculating at this point. Science is as foreign to me as the White Sox.