02 October 2008

True Irony - in a baseball kinda way

So the Shite Sox start their post season today in Tampa Bay. Hmm, Tampa Bay.... that sounds oddly familiar doesn't it?

Sure whilst many around the nation are amazed that the Tampa Bay Rays (they removed the Devil cuz it's the South ya see?!! Even a baseball team can be born again and saved, hallelujah), one of MLB's newest teams has made the playoffs after only a few years of futility (9 of them HAH), I sit here and just remember some facts that will make the Sox-Rays series oh so ironic.

In 1982, the Sox told Chicago that they would leave town if they didn't get a $5,000,000 tax-exempt bond to finance the build-out of luxury suites at Comiskey Park. The city, which at THAT time was under Jane Byrne (an old Daley machine gal), got the City Council to approve it and all was well at the cost of any taxes that should have gone to the city.

1988 rolls around and once again Sox ownership (Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn) say that Comiskey Park is in dire need of renovation and in fact, they want a new stadium from Chicagoans and that if they don't get their way, well, there's a lovely place that was being built in Tampa-St. Pete which will be the Sox NEW HOME, the "Florida Suncoast Dome". "Their way" included clauses that once built, if the Sox didn't hit a minimum average attendance for the year that their rent would only be $1 to the State of Illinois who would fund the building of this new stadium. Of course, at this time, a newly elected Mayor, Richard M. Daley, born and raised on the South Side of Chicago (Bridgeport) made sure that it was approved and pushed through.

So when people bitch and moan about how I have such a bad taste in my mouth about the Shite Sox, it's not really a Cubs/Sox thang. It's a "we were held hostage and still pay for it every day of our lives as residents of Illinois" thang that's so conveniently forgotten by the faithful followers of that team that will continue to have me hot under the collar. The team is privately owned but yet, the PUBLIC funded and built them that mall in the hood. I guess on the side of town that relishes in their backroom politics, this really shouldn't be a surprise.

So this series is really one where the people of Tampa should be angry and ready to take a beating on the Sox. For it took them 6 more years of having an empty facility (except for a few NCAA Tournament games and 3 seasons of the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club) before they were even granted an MLB franchise and 3 more years from that point before an actual baseball game was played there. That's a lot of tax dollars spent that went unsatisfied for a long time because ownership of the Sox played a political game and got people's hopes up. People down there were angry enough at the team that the Sox eventually pulled out of Sarasota for Spring Training and went to Arizona.

Yet, there are a lot of Chicago transplants down there so I won't surprise me to hear enough of a roar for the Sox when they bat. Unfortunately people have short memories about these things. I don't and never will.

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