Of course the world had to end just when the rebuild was about to bear fruit. Of course it did. We have all been Sisyphus since the day Chris Sale was shipped off to Boston. The rebuild. The R word. A death sentence in sports that very few teams can actually do correctly.
Our rock was metaphorical, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t heavy. Turning on the TV or checking twitter over the last three seasons was tantamount to eyeball torture. For instance, check out the line up from Opening Day 2017 and see if you get a case of insta-PTSD:
1. Tyler Saladino – Future KBO Superstar (I assume? I can’t stay up late enough to watch) He would go on to produce a OPS+ of 33 this season.
2. Tim Anderson – At this point in time, just dreaming of flipping bats while beating the Royals, but still a work in progress.
4. Jose Abreu – About to bounce back with a 5 bWAR season after a disappointing 2016. One of the only reasons to watch these Sox.
5. Todd Frazier – Every pop fly toward the stands gave Todd pause that a 74-year-old Hawk Harrelson would come running down to perform triage on him once again.
6. Cody Asche – Nope. There’s no way this is a real player that played for the Sox.
7. Avisail Garcia – About to put up a 138 OPS+ season that even he, to this day isn’t sure actually happened.
8. Omar Narvaez – Honestly, I can’t say a bad thing about Omar. I enjoyed the hell out of him and would rather have him than Colome.
9. Jacob May – Look, I’m not a famous former baseball player, but I know I have a cousin who could hit at least .057 in 36 AB’s.
That 2017 team would go on to lose 95 games and featured many starts by Mike Pelfrey and Miguel Gonzalez. This was expected. We all knew there were many, many games like this ahead. It would pay off, we just knew it.
The 2018 season was even worse, as they dropped 100 games. That winter Rick Hanh produced an ill-fated “Family Reunion” where the only cool family member decided not to RSVP. It was all pretty bleak.
But then, something began to stir in 2019. Eloy was coming — no wait — Eloy was here! The Super-Two was tossed aside so the ‘Big Baby’ could mash, and boy did he. A few adventures in left field caused him to miss some time, but he still managed to hit 31 homers, nine of which came in a scorching September that saw Jimenez put up a 184 wRC+.
Yoan Moncada was blossoming. He came into 2019 with a more aggressive approach at the plate and it paid off. Yoan put up MVP-level numbers in his second full season.
Tim Anderson won the freakin’ batting title, but more importantly he was a joy to watch. He smiled, he pimped his home runs, and he angered stuffy old baseball writers — A Sabermetric stat that can’t be measured, but should.
Lucas Giolito went from one of the single worst pitchers in 2018, to one of the best. He closed off his delivery and the lengthy righty gave fits to the rest of the American League with his filthy change up.
Both the farm and the post-op wing of the White Sox looked like reinforcements were not far off. Luis Robert was making a mockery of every combination of ‘A’s’ as he progressed from level to level and got better each time. Nick Madrigal stubbornly refused to ever strike out. Andrew Vaughn made an instant impact after the Cal Bear was taken third overall in the June draft. Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning continued their Tommy John surgery recoveries.
The off-season came fast as Hanh and Company struck quickly, locking up Yasmani Grandal, solidifying the backstop that will guide this rotation. Nomar Mazara might have only been traded for because he hit a 500-foot homer against the Sox last season, but 500-foot homers are, in fact, fun to see.
Christmas brought us Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez (finally joining the Sox rotation after being traded away twice almost a decade prior — just like they always planned). To cap it all off, Luis Robert and Yoan were locked up long term.
The core was finally in place. They weren’t going to win the World Series in 2020, but damn, were they going to be fun as hell to watch. Maybe even more fun than the 2005 team.
Then it happened. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on every major sports league and the world at large. All that excitement for this team vanished and we sheltered in place with our loved ones. We knew baseball was coming… eventually.
Writing an off-season recap in June for the current baseball season boggles my mind. I feel like Guy Pearce in Memento. Looking at the polaroid’s of these 2020 White Sox, checking my tattoos of Eloy’s exit velocity or Lucas’ spin rate to remind myself of why I was so excited. But there is light coming up over the horizon. The fans probably won’t be involved, and the financials still need to be worked out, but we’re close.
For now, we wait. We wait the same as 29 other fan bases, but we’re used to it by now. Only this time, it’s finally going to be worth it.