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Article updated: 7/2/2013 8:59 PM

White Sox in need of boost, so here's the deal

By Mike Imrem

One potential deal is a no-brainer as the White Sox approach the trade deadline.

The Sox should send a package of Paul Konerko, Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton

To the Blackhawks for Jay Blunk.

Either that or the Sox should merely go out and persuade Blunk to leave the United Center for Comiskey Park.

Some baseball teams need a baseball man or a lawyer or an accountant to lead them out of the abyss. A big-market team that ranks 25th in attendance among 30 big-league teams needs a marketing man.

Blunk is senior vice president of business operations for the Hawks, who have accomplished what the Sox need to: Give longtime fans a reason to return to the team and new fans a reason to discover it.

Something has to be done to get people interested in the Sox again, to convert their ballpark and location into assets, and to make baseball fans like them like they once did.

Right now the Sox are boringly unsuccessful on the field and increasingly a nonentity off it.

Blunk can't hit for power, hit for average, field, throw or field at a major-league level. But he has demonstrated a knack for sports marketing during 22 years with the Cubs and six with the Hawks.

Club chairman Rocky Wirtz, president John McDonough and Blunk -- yes, Blunk is sort of the silent Other Guy partner among this sports version of the Three Tenors -- have reinvented the Hawks into a phenomenon.

In case the sometimes oblivious Sox haven't noticed, the Hawks have become the model for other sports franchises around here. In less than a decade this hockey team has gone from hardly noticeable to hard not to notice.

That's the type of turnaround the White Sox need. Personally, I believe a lot of Sox fans are out there waiting for reasons to come back the way Blackhawks fans were waiting to come back.

Most of the credit concerning the Hawks goes to an attractive group of players who have won two Stanley Cups in four years. But the Cubs didn't win a World Series and remained appealing during the time McDonough and Blunk were concocting ways to keep them an attraction.

Then there are the Sox, who won the World Series in 2005 and failed to build upon that in either victories or attendance.

The Sox' image in Chicago is, well, they might not even have one. They're either an afterthought or disliked from the owners' box down to the dugout.

I almost gave up on suggesting the Sox making major marketing, promotions and public-relations strategy shifts. But after watching the love the Hawks received for winning another championship, timing is everything, and the time is right for Jay Blunk to go from being the Other Guy for the Hawks to The Guy for a team like the Sox.

As the Sox embark on rebuilding the playing roster, the time also is right for them to hire someone to provide fresh ideas, renewed energy and overall a new beginning on the business side.

When Wirtz determined that the Hawks needed those boosts he aggressively pursued and hired McDonough. Now whoever makes these determinations on the South Side, presumably Jerry Reinsdorf, should pursue and hire Blunk.

The Sox might be reluctant to appear desperate by hiring a former Cubs operative, but the truth is that they are desperate, if only they would admit it.

It sure would be interesting to see whether the makeover performed on the Blackhawks would work on the White Sox.

Jay Blunk's background makes him worth a try.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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