The White Sox Ketchup Bell of Shame is Dumb, Fun and Perfect
The mid-season gimmick just might be the diversion that fans need
The 2023 Chicago White Sox are not having a good season — it’s so bad, they’ve installed a bell to shame people who put ketchup on a Chicago-style hot dog. Which is definitely the best idea they’ve had all year.
The 2023 Chicago White Sox were supposed to be pretty good. Before Opening Day, ESPN had them as second most likely to win the division, behind the Guardians (projections are dumb), which is not happening. The team is more than 10 games out of first, with no reasonable shot at the postseason. Early season injuries to key players like Tim Anderson, Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada and others derailed a team that’s recently seen some pretty great regular seasons. Trade deadline offloads of pitchers Lucas Giolito, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Reynaldo Lopez, Lance Lynn and Keynan Middleton, and infielder Jake Burger, made the team a glorified farm squad for the remainder of the season. The final nails in the coffin came this month, with Tim Anderson fighting, and losing to, the Cleveland Guardians’ José Ramírez.
Keynan Middleton ripped his former team, saying they had a “no rules” culture, and feel-good story of the year Liam Hendriks had season-ending Tommy John surgery. A spectacular mix of poor on-field results and[ridiculous off-field BS has made this season a debacle for the White Sox.
How did this happen? How is first-year manager Pedro Grifol somehow worse than the Sox’s last manager, a way-past-his-prime Tony La Russa? How did a team with multiple former All-Stars completely implode in a division with a first-place team barely over .500? Why does Tim Anderson square up like an old-timey boxer?
Those questions will take years to answer. A more pressing concern: the 2023 Chicago White Sox still have lots of home games, and they need to sell tickets. In this case, we have one bit of bright news: the White Sox recently unveiled a ketchup bell of shame at Guaranteed Rate Field, and it’s the perfect baseball-related distraction from a club with a proud tradition of baseball-related distractions. The mid-season gimmick just might be the diversion the fans of the men in black need.
This is the team that introduced the exploding scoreboard and Disco Demolition Night. The White Sox have a working outdoor shower in the outfield concourse and the team also played in shorts in 1976. No other Major League Baseball team has had as many promotional nights, giveaways and in-stadium gimmicks as the Chicago White Sox. The NO KETCHUP ON CHICAGO DOGS! BELL OF SHAME! (that’s the official name of this thing: two exclamation points, all caps, ketchup in red script) absolutely belongs in baseball, and the home of the White Sox is its rightful place.
The ketchup bell of shame isn’t a new idea. Redhot Ranch, just a block west of the stadium and the absolute best place to get a dog before or after a game, has had a ketchup bell of shame since 2011. When a customer orders a dog with ketchup, the bell is rung and they’re heckled in good fun. It’s true that the White Sox’s bell produces a higher level of heckle: social media enjoys kicking the Sox while they’re down, and even Heinz is getting in on it (kinda, as Guaranteed Rate ketchup, mustard and other condiments are all Heinz products). Still, hot dog buyers do not seem to be avoiding the bell. There’s no real threat of any Scarlet Letter-type shame, and there’s a good chance that more ketchup will be used in the second half of this season because of this bell.
It’s also important to consider the (literal) fine print. Next to the bell is an explainer of the history of the Chicago-style hot dog, which reads, “Vienna Beef hot dogs nestled between a steamed poppy-seed bun served as the perfect base for a tasty combination of toppings: yellow mustard, bright green relish, fresh chopped onions, juicy red tomato wedges, a kosher-style pickle spear, a couple of spicy sport peppers (optional) and finally, a dash of celery salt.” In other words, if the dog doesn’t have all of those toppings, it’s not a Chicago-style hot dog.
So, really, the no ketchup on a hot dog thing only applies when it’s a Chicago dog. Most every dog served at both Guaranteed Rate and Wrigley Field — and indeed every baseball stadium — comes sans any toppings, so none of those are Chicago dogs. In theory, the bell should never be rung when a standard hot dog is served at the ballpark and ketchup is added. Think of this bell as a fun conversation starter, not as an actual shaming device. How Tim Anderson squares up is shameful. How you top your meat is never shameful.
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