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SoxFest Recap

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 28, 2008 3:41PM

2008_01_sports_soxfest2.jpgWhile the Cubs and their fans held their annual love-in last weekend, this past weekend the rest of us gathered at the Palmer House Hilton to celebrate and commiserate with fellow White Sox fans. Given the airing of grievances by fans and feats of strength by team management, it could very well have been renamed SoxFestivus.

The Friday night session -- open only to those who ponied up for the hotel package in addition to the weekend passes -- quickly heated up after a fan demanded answers to the Sox lack of success at landing any of the targeted free agent outfielders. Radio announcer Ed Farmer took the bait and lashed back.

Chicagoist expected real fireworks on Saturday at the "Your 2008 White Sox" seminar, featuring Sox GM Kenny Williams, manager Ozzie Guillen and Farmer. Even Paul Konerko sneaked into the room to watch the action. Instead, Williams and Guillen remained surprisingly calm while weathering the initial frustration of those who thought they should have made a bigger splash during the off-season. The scorn and criticism quickly turned to praise for 2005 and for the efforts to build a better team for this upcoming season. Williams answered Sox fans' questions about moves made and not made, apologizing for the 2007 squad, and trying to convince fans that the '08 edition would be competitive.

Williams certainly didn't shy away from the questions. Facing yet another round on Sunday, he actually even began the final day's town hall a half hour early. While there was certainly concern about who will lead off and who will play center field, fans praised the improved bullpen and seem to be embracing Nick Swisher. Williams tried all weekend to sell fans on the team's "balance," and many of the Sox faithful seemed more optimistic as the weekend progressed.

But how many Sox fans believe this team can really hang with the likes of Boston and Detroit? Williams seemed to have convinced himself, but when we hear balance in association with the roster we immediately think 81-81. As in a .500 record in '08. Maybe we're wrong -- we know more than a few Sox fans who were down on the team heading into '05. And that year turned out OK.