There was a time, actually, more than a few times, when ESPN – the worldwide leader – just straight up forgot the White Sox existed. These were fun times when the small but loyal fan base could just go on Twitter and dunk on the person in the ESPN research department who screwed up, and move on.
Now, after the questionable hiring process that returned Hall of Fame skipper (sorry, Hall of Famer Baseball Person) Tony La Russa to the Southside, and the subsequent revelation from Jeff Passan about LaRussa’s SECOND DUI earlier in the year, that the White Sox WE WERE AWARE OF BEFORE HIRING HIM… it’s not fun anymore.
Let’s face it, the White Sox are the second team in the second city. It’s been that way for years, and a lot of White Sox fans have a complex about that. They demand to be recognized on equal grounds as the Cubs when that is just never going to happen. Even the 2005 Championship couldn’t fix this mental block for some fans.
For most of my life, the White Sox have been frustratingly mediocre. Outside of 2005, most of that decade you saw a lot of 83-79 seasons when October rolled around and watched the Twins playing in ALDS after ALDS. 35th St could have just been renamed .500 Avenue.
They never rocked the boat. They would finish in the middle of the pack, never bottoming out in some spectacular fashion with infighting or another insanity. They didn’t win season in and season out – the White Sox have NEVER made the playoffs in back to back seasons in the entire 100+ year history of the franchise — to garner attention nationally for their steadiness in the division. They just quietly went about their business, while we hoped better things would be on the way.
In the social media age, the Sox have had a few issues that gained traction nationally. The Adam LaRoche incident blew up quickly (Remember when Adam Eaton called the younger LaRoche, a then 14-year old kid, one of the Team Leaders?!?!) and in the same season, Chris Sale going Edward Scissorhands on some throwback jersey’s that didn’t meet Chris’ high fashion standards. The news cycle was pretty quick and the Sox were able to move on. These seem quaint now in comparison.
Tumbleweeds continued to blow around this team nationally during the rebuild. They stunk, they had no identity, so really no one paid attention. The rebuilding White Sox was the tree falling in the woods when no one was around.
Enter: Tim Anderson.
TA changed that when he was called up. As a rookie, he began to show some swag and outspokenness, but it was in 2019 that he broke through. His bat flips were a shiny lure in the waters of the MLB. Nationally, the Sox were something to investigate from the other big fish in the pond. “Was something happening on the South Side? Let’s check it out.”
The Sox built a campaign around Anderson. Change the Game. Boy did they ever in 2020. They were young and exciting. Full of fun and energy that led them to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They ultimately got bumped in the Wild Card round, but the statement was made and they were ready to take the next leap forward.
We all know what happened next. The Sox who floated in anonymity for years are now a laughing stock. Mere MOMENTS after getting recognized as one of the best young teams in baseball, it was now instantly embarrassing to be a White Sox fan. The whiplash was intense, and now after La Russa’s DUI, it’s so much worse.
Jerry Reinsdorf and the White Sox seem to be doubling down and Tony will face no punishment from them or Major League Baseball. (The state of Arizona is another issue). The authority of the court of public opinion isn’t one that Reinsdorf has ever recognized, but in 2020, maybe he should.
He is stubborn and old and rich. He was obsessed with righting a wrong from 30+ years ago and bring his best friend back to manager come hell or high water. He should be obsessed with winning. He should be obsessed with finding the right man for the job to lead the young and exciting team to another title.
Tony La Russa broke the law. This SHOULD MATTER. He should care what the fans think. He should have some empathy, but I guess when you’re in your 80’s and have money who cares about empathy?
The fans with little brother complex now have what they always wanted. Everyone is paying attention to the White Sox. The spotlight is shining on the South Side of Chicago and what its showing is ugly, and mean, and laughably tone-deaf.
Oh, for the Halcyon Days of being an MLB Wallflower.