White Sox (15-44) ‘feed off anything we can get’ from fans, which is mostly discontent as season unravels

MILWAUKEE – To be around the White Sox on a daily basis these last two seasons is to be within earshot of a passionate, vocal and disgruntled fan base.

Not all, but a large segment of fans say they are losing interest in the team. There are those casual fans who pay less attention when the team is losing, and then there’s the through-thick-and-thin block, the supporters whose moods can be altered by last night’s score, the ones who can name the 26th man on the roster and who’s available in the bullpen that day.

There were those who made the drive to American Family Field Saturday and made themselves vocal, heard when Andrew Benintendi and Gavin Sheets hit home runs to give the Sox an early lead that would, like 17 leads before this one this season, go up in flames. The Sox fell 4-3 in 10 innings for their 10th loss in a row.

“We try to feed off anything we can get, to be honest with you,” Sheets said after the Sox fell to 15-44. “The ones that are out supporting us right now, we appreciate immensely. To have them out here in Milwaukee is always fun and obviously the next series in Wrigley will be great as well and hopefully our fans rally around us as well. We’re looking for anything we can have right now to pick us up and rally us.”

But it’s apparent some don’t care much these days. Apathy is real, and small announced home crowds but for days when giveaways drive ticket sales are just one example. But for the diehards, this start which brings to mind Casey Stengel’s 1962 New York Mets in 1962 who went 40-120 and the 43-119 Detroit Tigers of 2003 is beyond troublesome.

The players are within earshot, too.

“You hear stuff but it’s been that way your whole life,” said Sox infielder Danny Mendick, who singled twice, stole a base and made two nice plays at second base but also rapped into a double play in the eighth inning Saturday “Everyone is always chirping. But it’s a good thing. If people weren’t, you’re not at the highest level. It lights a fire under your butt when people see that you’re not doing well, you want to play better.”

Much of the fans’ vitriol is being aimed at chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who with Eddie Einhorn led the group that purchased the team in 1981. In the 1980s, the Sox gave fans four teams with winning records, including a division winner in 1983. In the 1990s, they had six winning teams, including a division winner in 1993. There were eight teams with records of .500 or better during the 2000s, including three division champs and a World Series champion in 2005, so generations of fans have become accustomed to generally competitive teams to root for.

But from 2011 until now, the Sox have had three seasons with winning records — 2012, 2020, 2021.

These last two seasons are something different altogether, however. The Sox are following a 61-101 campaign with an even worse losing pace. A SELL THE TEAM sign was seen (and confiscated) in the 200 level on the last homestand at Guaranteed Rate Field, not the first time such banners have been shown around town.

“We come, we show up and play hard every day and sometimes things don’t go our way,” Mendick said. “[Going through good times and bad times] is the whole point of being a fan. Sometimes you go through hardships, and that’s what makes when you win a World Series so great.

“So yeah, we know. We know it’s tough for the fans. Everyone has to know we’re human, too. We’re trying to play and have fun and compete our butts off. But we get it. We do.”

The Sox now have a 10-game losing streak to match one from April of last season, when they started 7-21. They’ve lost five series in a row. Through it all, the clubhouse chemistry is “unmatched,” said Garrett Crochet, who pitched six innings of one-run ball.

“But the guys in here we really rally around each other as opposed to teams I’ve been on in the past.”

At least the Sox have each other.

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