White Sox hire new game presentation director, natural order threatened

Chicago Business' Danny Ecker's Monday article--which basically does not much more than imply that there might be a different volume of Jock Jams spinning in the U.S. Cellular Field CD changer in 2015--doubles as a character sketch of the protagonist in a 'Fish out of water who transforms his new environment' comedy.'

In this scenario, the White Sox are Harvard Law School, and the new Director of Game Presentation Cris Quintana is Reese Witherspoon's character in Legally Blonde, who I am going to pretend not to know the name of in an attempt to preserve my own dignity.

Ecker dedicates an entire section to how Quintana, who is somehow 34 years-old and been working in the NBA for 15 years, is a change of pace for White Sox business as usual, but the horrifying revelations starts early.

"Quintana, known around the Sox organization as 'CQ'"

I suppose this approaches being remotely acceptable and not MIND-NUMBING SACRILEGE since Carlos Quentin is technically known as "TCQ" back from when he hit AS MANY HOME RUNS IN FIVE MONTHS OF 2008 AS JOSE ABREU HIT ALL OF LAST YEAR but this is hallowed ground Quintana is tiptoeing across. Yet as Ecker reveals, nothing is sacred.

"Despite growing up near Andersonville, [Quintana's] never been to a Sox game on the South Side."

Wha--whaT??! Does this mean he's never booed at all three contestants of the dance-off on the dugout? Does this mean he's never weighed the merits of cackling or politely cheering when a kid on the Fundamentals deck can't hit a ball over 30 feet? These are critical checkpoints in the formation of Sox fan identity. If you can't lustily boo a child, how will you ever boo the Cubs?

"Recalled Boyer. 'And my reaction to that was, There are a lot of people in Chicago who haven't been to a White Sox game. . . .You've got a lot of people that you have something in common with.'"

BROOKS! We do not speak of such things! Especially to...outsiders.

One song that may be in for a change: AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ as the music for the White Sox player introductions, a staple at the Cell for more than a decade. The Sox tried to wean fans off the song early in the 2005 season, but pushback from fans convinced them to hang onto it, and the song stuck with the team through its run to a World Series title that year.

Since then, ‘Thunderstruck’ hasn’t exactly been tied to a lot of winning baseball on the South Side. And while no official change is planned yet, Quintana hinted that fans ‘may see (the song) fade away over time. It’s a new beginning.’
— Danny Ecker

Alright, I can't keep up this charade of pretending to be offended anymore. The White Sox most prominent owners are Comiskey (an much-loathed ogre), Bill Veeck (the archetypal hustler and showman) and Jerry Reinsdorf (the guy who replaced the original Comiskey Park, then kicked the guy's name off the building for some cash. This isn't a franchise traditionally handicapped by tradition. Listening to Brian Johnson wheeze about hooking up with strippers has somehow gotten us ready to watch baseball for a while now, but I'm confident we can move on as a people. At this point, my strongest connection to the song is the memories it triggers of the playoff teams of the 2000's and my college years, and it only gets more pathetic every year to linger on either one.

As a baseball and sports obsessive, no news about gameday experience, even of the more worldly NBA approach that Quintana boasts, ever really moves me. It's not meant for me--the completely bought-in customer whose commitment is already assured--but the casual fan. What Quintana appears to address is the same phenomenon taking place in the White Sox aesthetic; they're not taking in anyone new by repeating their same approach every year, and continually declining attendance always justifies change for change's sake.

One last thing, though:

Those who worked with Quintana during his NBA days describe a sharp in-game director with a knack for picking the right music at the right time to build fan excitement and energy, as well as a strong ability to ‘humanize’ players through video features that help make them more engaging to fans.

’Your players are your most valuable assets, and he does a great job of showing players in a positive light,’
— Danny Ecker

Emphasizing the humanity of your players is a double-edged sword. Not that your players are ever anything but human, but encouraging fans to make a personal connection creates dissonance when the team is forced to eschew personal connections for professional assessments of their performance. Jose Abreu being both a baseball god and a seemingly neverending reservoir of good tidings produces A+ content, but a deep understanding of how much Gordon Beckham cares about winning, tortures himself to improve, reveres past titans of the franchise and soaks up their knowledge like a sponge, doesn't make his failure to escape disposable mediocrity easier to process. On the flipside, Jay Cutler will never get embraced for being serviceable due to everyone being exposed to a personality that's only tolerated from superstars.

However, in this age of near complete personal and professional exposure for all athletes, the best the Sox can do is get out ahead of it and make their own content. And if Quintana is bringing an NBA approach, I assume that means we're getting a White Sox version of this any day now:

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