Although their team has been in or near first place for the better part of season, White Sox fans have been stingy with their attendance. The recent “Crosstown Classic” against the Cubs was a telling example as attendance for the three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field was the lowest since the teams began facing each other in interleague play. White Sox leadership has issued veiled threats that the turnstile woes will lead to cash shortages, leaving the team unable to go after big-name free agents.

The problem seems to be fan confidence in their division-leading team.

“I just don’t trust them,” said lifelong Sox fan Gus Pavlik, who prefers to watch games from the comfort of his neighborhood tavern in Lisle. “Sure, they’re in first now, but by the time I buy a ticket and drive down to the ‘Cell, they might have dropped into second place. It ain’t worth it.”

Pavlik’s hesitation was echoed by other fans at the bar.

“I hate losing, and even more: I hate paying money to witness the posibility of losing,” Addison resident Dave Zembrowski commented. “If the Sox cannot guarantee a win, I’m staying home. I’m not a Cubs fan, you know.”

“Perfect games are great and all, but they happen, what, every two, three years at the ‘Cell?” asked Ralph Kotwitz of La Grange. “What are the odds I’m going to see one when I go? Besides, a Miller Lite is $3 cheaper here at the bar.”

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf has been holding urgent meetings with MLB officials to address the attendance crisis. Ideas that were discussed include creating a standing higher than first place for the White Sox if their record improves to at least a three-game lead over the next team in their division.

“‘First Plus’ could give Sox fans that extra cushion of confidence to overcome their self-loathing and come out to a game,” said White Sox marketing chief Brooks Boyer. “We hope the league will act fast because I’ve got kids in college to pay for.”

The White Sox were said also to be collaborating with Comcast Sportsnet to create a premium channel to appeal exclusively to Sox fans by showing nothing but the most memorable Cubs losses in history.

Cary Nathenson