So, you’ve decided to become a White Sox fan …

Welcome, friend: Sitaspell. Take your shoes off. Let’s learn how to root for the White Sox … together.


Congratulations on taking the first step towards what might be a long and arduous journey through our humble fandom! Or maybe you’ll only be with us for a short time. Hey, this guide isn’t here to judge.

That’s your decision; this is, after all, at-will employment. 

Allow me to introduce myself; I’m a hereditary White Sox fan, and if you’ve seen that movie, having the fan run through your family can certainly feel like you’ve inherited something sinister. Due to budget cuts, I am both the resident IT person and HR generalist of the White Sox fandom. I’ll email you a link with your email and password, and make sure it’s a secure one, (nothing obvious like IL0v3Y@sm@niGr@nd@l!), but we’ll figure all that out at the end of this orientation. 

Whatever length your tenure figures to be with our beloved South Siders, this guide is here to serve as your New Fan Orientation packet, and to let you know what exactly you are getting yourself into.

So sit back, relax, and strap it down. And on behalf of everyone at South Side Hit Pen, home of innovative crowdfunded grassroots coverage of your new favorite team, welcome to the madness that is White Sox baseball!


Why are you here?

Let’s get this one out of the way: Let the homers call you a bandwagoner in the pejorative. Fandom is a choice, it’s not something that’s earned. Even if you’re like me, where your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, third cousin once removed or whatever, cheered for one team, truthfully, you’re still free to cheer for another. 

Casual, intermediate, advanced. We welcome all levels of fan. You can name only one or two players? Have the birth charts of the whole pitching staff saved on your phone? (By the way, oddly enough, stacked with Capricorns.) Got Baseball-Reference bookmarked so you can fire off stats on some plebeian who thinks Yasmani Grandal can’t be a leadoff hitter because his batting average was .170 batting first? 

The only gatekeeping at Sox Park you’ll see is performed by the security guard who wouldn’t let me in with a sealed bottle of vitamin water a few years back.

Maybe you’re here because your favorite player was acquired in a gustatory offseason free agent signing.

(We see you, Brewers fans.) 

Or perhaps you found yourself telling your friends and family that while you and your team love each other very much, that you’re taking a much-needed break and have decided to see other teams.

We see you … Astros fans? (Hey, again, no judgments here.) 

Or you maybe you are a recovering Cubs fan, upset at how the R*cketts family is spending their money, namely, not on players. We see you, too.

Let’s not forget those who are new to baseball altogether; perhaps you are finally buying into the hype via your friends, who won’t shut up about 108-ing, legend statue selfies, five-inning complete game shutouts, bat flips, or some guy who just seems to like to say hi to his own mom. 

You are seen. 

No one else can tell you how to fan but you, and we embrace that philosophy here on the South Side.

It all boils down to this: you cheer for the White Sox? We do, too. We have so much in common already!


The basics: Who’s Who

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Rick Hahn

Our fearless GM, who makes calls and starts moves, namely as soon as he’s able to, the day after the World Series. Rick was first out of the gates and acquired the likes of Yasmani Grandal when other GMs were sleeping off their hangovers, and gifted Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnación to the fandom right before December 25. 

Ricky Renteria 

The man making the lineups. Though he was the subject of scrutiny for being very experimental with the batting order last season, Ricky’s approval rating is high — especially now that he should have plenty of offensive flexibility with this offseason’s acquisitions. (We acquired a switch-hitting catcher who draws walks? Incredible!) Not to mention through testimonial, Ricky’s personable, positive, and respected by his players — a proven leader. 

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone 

We’re blessed by the baseball gods to have this dynamic announcing duo — Benetti, especially, is a gift with his wry insight and humor. Also, #SoxMath anyone? Steve Stone is the perfect comedic foil to Benetti, especially if you follow either of them on Twitter.

Southpaw

The fuzzy green dude is the working class hero we’ve been needing. Whether he’s at your wedding, corporate event, or goofing off with your kids at a game, Southpaw’s always down to entertain. But … why isn’t he left-handed?

Some other good names to know

Nick Madrigal, our hopeful second baseman on Opening Day.
Michael Kopech, a top prospect who just shaved his head for charity.
Luis Robert, a center fielder whom you’ve probably seen hit some sort of ridiculous home run video on social media.

These guys are the future of the organization, and we’re so excited to see them in 2020. 


The basics: What’s What

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The 2005 World Series 

Yeah, it happened. 

So much magic. Scott Podsednik with the walk-off homer — his second postseason homer —  in Game 2, despite hitting no home runs during the 2005 season. Small ball, long ball, the 2005 White Sox did it all. A powerful lineup that hit 200 home runs in the regular season. A ridiculous starting rotation including Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle, Jon Garland and Freddy García. Heck, the pitching staff’s entire ERA was 2.63. 

The legacy of 2005 is still felt to this day. Manager Ozzie Guillén continues to offer, um, insight from time to time. Every White Sox dad has that one jacket with the cream leather sleeves, the ’05 World Series patch on the sleeve. Any given bar on the South Side has that one neon World Series Champs Miller Lite sign, and chances are it’s rarely been turned off since.

108ing

What exactly is 108ing? Chances are, you’ve done it already. Not limited to the confines of the scenic view of the right field foul pole, any given time is probably an appropriate time for a beverage. On your way to a court appearance for a parking ticket? (Probably not then, honestly. HR is not responsible for any 108-related citations.) Waiting for medical test results? Generally thinking about the insurmountable weight of human existence? Time to 108. 

Tailgating

Sox Park is surrounded by vast parking lots, ideal for the ancient tradition of consuming self-prepared food and assorted beverages out the backside of your vehicle. 

STICK TALK!

Tim Anderson is changing the game, namely by unapologetically being himself and not giving a rat’s ass about whose feathers are ruffled by his incredulous bat flips. Timmy’s about having fun playing baseball, not this AcT liKe YoU’ve BeEn tHeRe bEfoRe crap. We love him so much that we built a whole-ass marketing campaign around the reigning AL batting champ.

Food

Sox Park (anyone calling it Guaranteed Rate Field is doing that because they have some legal obligation to) is home to some of the best ballpark food you’ll find. Anyway: fries topped with gyro fixins or buffalo chicken, helmet nachos, elotes, churros, an entire goddamn BBQ loaded baked potato. We’ve got it all. Come hungry; you will eat well at the ballpark.

Admit it: you’d buy this candle

A final note

With spring training just getting underway, there’s so much excitement in the fandom that hasn’t been seen in years. PECOTA? We don’t know her. The White Sox are projected to win 80-something games, but from the early player interviews, it sounds like winning is, well, a priority; the rebuild is complete.

However you choose to ride with us, you’ve made the decision to do so, since the other option was to, well, get run over. 

At any other orientation, an HR person would have you fill out a few forms, present a form of identification, maybe a check to jump-start your direct deposit, so you’d get paid.

As a White Sox fan, remember, you will pay. We’re not sure how yet, but you’ll certainly pay. 

Southpaw: America’s true, gritty, working-class mascot

Hero of the masses: Gritty, meet a true mascot of the people, Southpaw. (@Southpaw)


Allow me to briefly step across the sports aisle to discuss Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty.

Gritty is a seven-foot-tall, amorphous, orange, hirsute being. You may be thinking “Well, that doesn’t really sound too different from other ambiguous sports mascots.”

Generally, I would have agreed with you. Until I looked deeply into Gritty’s eyes.

Gritty’s batshit gaze is the embodiment of something Friedrich Nietzche said:

If you look long enough into the void, the void looks back through you.

It makes a perplexing amount of sense that leftists have co-opted Gritty as a symbol of antifascism and working class rebellion. What initially began as a Philly-area adoption of Gritty as a leftist idol has become a nationwide sentiment.

The Jacobin, a publication that describes itself as “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture,” claimed Gritty for the left with a simple tweet:

Although Gritty has been crowned as King of the Working Class, I would like to propose an alternative leader: Southpaw, the Chicago White Sox mascot.

Regardless of your social, economic, or political stances, it is a fact that Chicago has a vibrant and rich legacy or immigrant and working class neighborhoods. In the early 20th Century, Chicago was the site of many critical labor upheavals. These early strikers were men, women, and children who hailed from Pilsen, Bridgeport, Pullman, and other South Side neighborhoods.

The South Side in particular was home several working class industries (meat packing, steel mills, and basically all the other jobs no one wanted to do) as well as a large amount of black Chicagoans who arrived in the city after Reconstruction and in the Great Migration. Rich black industry grew in the South Side, but it was not without struggle. The Red Summer of 1919 occurred as a result of racial tensions bubbling over after increased job and housing competition. Slap an expressway in the middle of everything to further divide people, and, in an incredibly brief oversimplification, the South Side has long been a cauldron of racial, labor, and class tensions.

In contemporary times, it seems at times to be the South Side against the rest of Chicago and the world. I can only speak from a transplant’s experience, but the image outsiders (especially white folks) have conjured up of the South Side is one of wild-eyed fear and unknowing.

That fear and unknowing extends to White Sox fans. White Sox fans, as you all know, are a mystery to everyone that isn’t a White Sox fan. And to be honest, people should be scared of White Sox fans, as they are the baseball equivalent of self-flagellators.

While there are various White Sox players, commentators, and other symbols we idolize in our suffering, it is time to put away our earthly comforts and embrace the unknown that is Southpaw.

What is Southpaw? Like the mystery of the South Side and Sox fandom, honestly, none of us really know. But we find out what Southpaw isn’t from his MLB profile:

Some people think he’s an alligator, frog or even a dirty sock. Those are all really goofy, but he’s none of those. Southpaw is a fuzzy green dude that loves the Chicago White Sox. Southpaw’s favorite snack is Ants on a Log. No, not real ants (he’s not an anteater, silly), but the snack with celery, peanut butter and raisins. He had a pet rock once, but he rolled away.

Believe it or not, this vague description put to bed some questions we had at SSHP. Brett and I briefly discussed Southpaw’s gender identity and how we would go about finding out about it, but luckily, the MLB helped us figure out the proper pronouns to use for Southpaw.

We are able to glean a few insights about Southpaw’s viewpoints via social media:

Southpaw believes in a regulated work day. 

Southpaw puts his time in working in charity and entertainment, but quittin’ time is quittin’ time.

Southpaw is a creature of the people …

Even fans of the opposing team. If there are any Astros fans looking to jump ship, run into Southpaw’s warm embrace, comrades.

… and the people love Southpaw back.

Southpaw isn’t afraid to strike and stand up to bullies.

A true leader of the people is not afraid to go on strike or face down powerful figures.

Southpaw stands for equality.

And, finally, Southpaw doesn’t punch children.

Gritty recently ran into trouble with the law for assaulting a 13-year-old. From SI.com:

Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty is under investigation for allegedly assaulting a 13-year-old boy during a photo shoot, police said.

Chris Greenwell and his son Brandon met the hairy, googly-eyed mascot at a November event for season ticket holders. Brandon patted Gritty on the head after he and his father posed for a photo with him at the Wells Fargo Center, Greenwell told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Greenwell said that as Brandon walked away, Gritty ran out of his chair and “punched my son as hard as he could.”


With a history of hardcore, working-class credibility, residence on the blue-collar side of a union-heavy city, love of the people and equality, and disdain for the powerful, Southpaw is America’s true working-class mascot.

When you gaze into Southpaw’s eyes, you will not see a void; you will see a comrade looking back at you saying, “Damn the man. Gritty, who?”