When SoxFest will kick off Friday at 4 p.m. with the opening ceremonies (streamed LIVE on Comcast SportsNet and CSNChicago.com) under much different circumstances than a year ago. Gone are longtime figures Ozzie Guillen and Mark Buehrle. Gone are key pieces in Sergio Santos and Carlos Quentin. And, judging by the general mood of supporters, gone is the optimism of the fanbase.
But, with all of those people and feelings gone, an opportunity to win back some goodwill presents itself. Robin Ventura has his first real chance to interact with fans. Adam Dunn and the Sox made a smart move to make him available at SoxFest, where he's sure to face some tough questions.
Kenny Williams will be hit with questions regarding the team's direction -- rebuilding, retooling, or contenting? Jake Peavy will entertain comments about his health, while Gordon Beckham will be asked about his progress in putting the last two years behind him.
Everybody will be asked about Guillen, which hopefully will stand as the last time any of the players has to answer a question regarding their former manager. And everybody will be asked about Prince Fielder, perhaps to the extent of whether the Sox should even bother to play baseball this year.
Some questions will be fair, and plenty will be unfair. That's the nature of these things.
It'll be great to see some members of the 2005 World Series team making an appearance, from Joe Crede and Frank Thomas to Neal Cotts, Pablo Ozuna, Cliff Politte and Chris Widger. While plenty of panels should leave fans feeling pleased, none will accomplish that more than the '05 World Series memories ones.
There probably won't be any major announcements, like a free agent signing or a trade. There really aren't any free agents the Sox could easily announce -- maybe Yoenis Cespedes, although that's a longshot -- and a fan convention is no time to announce a trade of your presumptive closer or mid-rotation starter for prospects.
The Sox generally put on a good event, and I know I'll enjoy milling around, thinking about baseball during the end of January.
Stay with White Sox Talk on CSNChicago.com and Comcast SportsNet for complete coverage of all of this weekend's activities from the Palmer House Hilton.