A Bad Love-The White Sox in Reflection

The White Sox, are the worst girlfriend in baseball. On paper, you could see yourself spending the rest of your life with her, but when you start to look at things, you realize she is somewhat of a hot mess.  A hot, enticing mess that makes you want to pull your hair out.  Inconsistent, clutching, somewhat unattractively to her youthful prime, but clearly and less than gracefully aging, she is an expensive lady who makes you question way too often why you don’t dump her for some sort of upgrade that at least appears to care a little bit more. As we all know, sports, teams, they have a hold on us, like the worst of girlfriends.  The south side team from Chicago has tortured its fanbase this past season, in the way only a bad girlfriend could.  

With the efforts made in the offseason to fortify the roster with veteran talent, many people, both fans, media members, and the organization itself projected the White Sox to not only compete, but to become an exciting contender this season.  Additions like Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, Zach Duke, David Robertson, and Jeff Samardzija combined with the return of the young highlights including Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, and Chris Sale were supposed to lead the franchise back to the playoffs.  

The club’s season hasn’t necessarily gone as planned.  The reasoning behind going on somewhat of a free agency shopping spree was the projected increase in ticket sales throughout the season due to the quality of the signings.  However, the reality of it is that the Cubs do better with attendance on a Thursday day game at 1:20 versus the Colorado Rockies than the Cell on a Friday evening. With only five sell-outs this year, two of which were for the Crosstown Classic, one can assuredly say that attendance has been lackluster this season, at the least.

The lack of attendance is undoubtedly somewhat due to the fact that the club is grossly underperforming relative to what was predicted of them, while the curse of low attendance has been plaguing this team for many years, big expectations or otherwise.  Speaking of tendencies of the south siders, a team that has been notorious for big bats and equally big home run statistics, winning record or otherwise, are most certainly not killing it in the home run column as of late.  The White Sox rank 24th in the statistic with 99 home runs.  The club is 22nd in hits with 998, 27th in on base percentage at .302, and dead last in both RBIs and runs with 414 and 437 respectively.  Defensively speaking, their statistics aren’t gorgeous either, they have the 7th most errors in the majors with 72.  Pitching-wise, the club is just above the middle of the pack, ranking 19th with an ERA of 3.99.  So the question begs, when the Sox looked great on paper before the season started, what are they actually good at?

They go on bouts of bad pitching, bad base running, bad fielding, bad hitting, and the loss column follows.  It’s hard to identify what the problem is: the players, the manager, the front office, but no one really seems to blame and no one really knows where to start.  It seems they’ll too often battle back from a deficit, only to give the game back in the bottom of the 9th or 10th or 13th.  

But the thing that makes it sting so much is that they almost stay in it.  They still sit only six games back of the wild card, in a league with no true dominant teams.  (An argument could be made for the Royals, but their starting pitching isn’t all that stellar, and one might be made for the Blue Jays, but as we are seeing right now, they have hit a couple speed bumps following their hot streak.)  They have their spells of excitement. Winning seven in a row following the All-Star break, sweeping the Angels at home, taking two from the Cubs on the south side, popping off five runs in the first inning, magically having Tyler Saladino, the surprising call-up makes all three outs in an inning with spectacular diving and leaping plays at third. They do just enough to keep the fan from cashing out.  They keep it literally just close enough to still be in it.  That’s the thing about the White Sox.  The club constantly surprises you just when you think you were about to give up hope.  It’s as if they sense when you are about to check and swoop in and surprise you by dropping a juicy 8-burger in Anaheim.  

But the fact that they keep pulling you back in with mini victories isn’t even the worst part.  The fact is that you love her.  An always classy organization, as one would expect from Jerry Reinsdorf, there’s no ethical argument that can be made against her.  You absolutely adore who she used to be, the champion of girlfriends, full of life and character.  But that was a decade ago.  And you hope, you desperately hope that with the couple of brights spots, trying desperately to shine through, that she can recapture that status.  She has the potential.  But the question becomes, when does potential stop being potential and becomes simply the inability to live up to expectations, or just underachievement. So that’s the worst part. She strings you along, giving you hope, keeping you attached.  You love her, and because of her behavior she’s tearing you apart inside.  And you’re hoping, dearly, hoping that you don’t have to walk away.