In a world that revolves around technology — and more importantly social media — far too often, I made a decision to put my phone down during the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday night during Lucas Giolito‘s no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. I had been texting back-and-forth with my Dad, as I do every Sox game that we don’t get to watch together, but I made the choice to avoid social media and live in the moment for a few minutes.
I sat on my deck with my wife and kids, and we took in the raw emotions of each pitch, trying our best to will Giolito to the finish line. It was the most fun I’ve had watching a White Sox game in a long time. Not solely because of the historic significance of Lucas Giolito tossing the 19th no-hitter in White Sox history, but because it possibly marked the start of something even bigger, a new era of White Sox baseball.
After the game, I chatted with my Dad about this season, and the unavoidable feeling that the butterflies we felt in our stomachs on Tuesday night will become a familiar feeling, a feeling I really haven’t felt or associated with White Sox baseball since I was in high school. I just turned 30 in May, it’s been a long time since the White Sox were good, but it’s about damn time.
I’ve often recalled watching the club’s 2005 run to an eventual World Series Championship as I’ve gotten older, more particularly, the raw emotions that I watched pour out of my Dad during that run. See, I was spoiled by that 2005 team. I was just 15 years old, so my wait for greatness was nowhere near the 41 years, six months, and 14 days that my father waited for his favorite team to win a World Series.
I also got to witness it side-by-side with my Dad, who 15 years later I consider my closest friend, something he himself didn’t have the privilege of doing with the man that instilled his deep love for White Sox baseball in him, my late Grandfather, Jack.
We’ve seen fun ball games, historic milestones, and a compilation of small feats in the time between 2005 and now, but Tuesday night felt different. Tuesday night felt real. Lucas Giolito’s laser focus in the dugout was real. The tenacity in Jason Benetti’s voice as the likelihood of the feat grew with each out, felt real. Guess what, it’s real White Sox fans.
As you prepare for a day without the Sox on your television screen or radio, the team is 19-12 and have narrowed their pursuit of the Minnesota Twins to just a half-game. But you don’t need their record, or the 98.3 percent probability of a postseason berth that Fangraphs gives the White Sox this morning to know that this team is about to deliver the most memorable White Sox season in well over a decade. You can feel it.
With just 29 games before the postseason remaining, the White Sox own the best offense in baseball, the largest run differential in the American League, a legitimate MVP candidate, Rookie of the Year candidate, and if it wasn’t for the other-worldly season that Cleveland Indians’ starter Shane Bieber is having, they would have a legitimate Cy Young candidate in Lucas Giolito.
Since Lucas Giolito got shelled by the Minnesota Twins on Opening Day, he’s lowered his ERA to 3.09, has notched 58 strikeouts in 43.2 innings of work and has put together 17 consecutive innings of shutout baseball. During that stretch, Giolito has 27 strikeouts, two walks, three hits, and a 0.29 WHIP. Which is encouraging, because save for a disastrous turn for the worst over the next four weeks, Lucas Giolito will be taking the ball in the first White Sox playoff contest since October 6, 2008.
This past November, White Sox General Manager, Rick Hahn offered us an interesting analogy regarding their pursuit of potential additions to the roster, “People aren’t too interested in hearing about the labor; they want to see the baby,”
That same analogy can be applied to the rebuild that he’s played a pivotal role in over the last few years. Nobody enjoyed the grueling three-plus-year labor that was the 2017-19 seasons, but in 2020, the baby has arrived. In a span of one year, Hahn and company acquired Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Dane Dunning, Eloy Jimenez, and Dylan Cease in three separate blockbuster deals, and signed Luis Robert as an international free-agent.
Save for Kopech — who opted out of the 2020 season at the onset of Summer Camp — each of those players has contributed to the success of the 2020 rendition of the Chicago White Sox, and most of those names figure to play major roles in the new era of baseball on the South Side of Chicago.
This past winter, Hahn made good on his word and aggressively attacked the open market, and landed perennial all-star catcher Yasmani Grandal, World Series Champion and Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, and some guy who has hit 415 career home runs, Edwin Encarnacion in an effort to supplement his budding core of superstars.
The labor was rough, but the baby is here, and boy is she beautiful.
This team is just getting started, but their recent run of dominance is a warning to the rest of baseball: The Chicago White Sox are for real.
Over their last 10 games, they’ve outscored their opponents, 70-21, and are batting .311/.366/.648 (106-341) with 19 doubles, 32 home runs, and 70 RBI during that span. Over their last 26 games, they’re 18-8, and over their last 25 games, the starting pitching has been the polar opposite of the worrisome group we saw the first time through the rotation, pitching to the tune of a 2.72 ERA (40 ER/132.1 IP), 133 strikeouts and .218 (106-486) opponents average.
I was spoiled with the 2005 season, and I’ve lived with the rest of you in baseball fandom purgatory for a very long time since, and like I did on Tuesday, I’m going to savor every bit of what we’re on the verge of, and you should too.
Featured Photo: Nick Wosika / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images