Every baseball off-season provides optimism for fans looking forward to next year as hope for their respective teams springs eternal.
But for the second straight year, both the White Sox and Cubs have canceled their annual fan gatherings in January due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Cubs made the announcement Saturday that they had again canceled their popular Cubs Convention, which offers fans the chance to speak with players and mingle with other fans just ahead of pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training.
The Cubs’ announcement came a day after the Sox canceled SoxFest for the second straight year, citing the uncertainty of holding an indoor event as positive COVID-19 cases continue around Chicago and Illinois. As of Friday, Chicago health officials announced a daily average of 343 new positive cases of COVID-19 per day, which was up from 297 new daily cases the week before.
Sox fans perhaps the most to look forward following a season when the team captured the American League Central Division championship for the first time since 2008. However, hopes for a lengthy postseason run were cut short when the Sox dropped the league division series in four games to the Houston Astros.
Scheduled to take place in mid-January at the Sheraton Grand Chicago. Like the Sox, the Cubs had hoped to go ahead with resuming the popular fan events after canceling last year due to COVID-19-related concerns.
Although both fans had safety protocols in place this past season at their respective ballparks, Cubs officials said that bringing people together in an indoor setting while the pandemic is on-going made canceling the event the right thing to do with a team spokesman telling the Chicago Tribune that as Chicagoans begin to get their COVID-19 booster, the city isn’t yet “out of the woods” in regard to the pandemic.
“Winter months, an indoor environment, where you’re talking about 10,000 people or more in closed quarters where you can’t technically social distance,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Saturday, according to the Tribune. “It’s for safety reasons. It’s just a little more difficult to manage.”