It’s May 14th, and the White Sox have (finally) become the last team to enter the Double Digit Win Club. They haven’t been good and there’s no way to pretend that they’ve been good, but it’s important to keep things in perspective.
Let’s look back to last season for a moment. By the time July rolled around, lots of big names had been moved off of the team, and the #tank tweets were being thrown around left and right as the team suffered their way through a miserable July and August.
September showed up, and the last 30 games the White Sox played ended in a 15-15 split with a -3 run differential. After a month of average baseball with what was a depleted roster, it was a letdown for Team Tank, but it was also a nice surprise for all fans going into the offseason.
I’m not going to negatively criticize your rooting interests because I understand the motivation to root for losses in a situation like that, but it’s just not in my blood to root for anything other than a win for my team. However, the end of the 2017 season, despite being a delightful surprise, might’ve actually been detrimental to the emotional stability of White Sox fans.
The talk of the offseason was that the team had hit their low point shortly after all of the major trades at the deadline, and that there was nowhere to go but up…
…there was nowhere to go but up, right?
Despite the overachievement at the end of the season, the White Sox only won 67 games in 2017 and had not made any major additions to the roster in the offseason (Welington Castillo? Luis Avilan? Joakim Soria?).
It’s worth mentioning that Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson, Anthony Swarzak, and Dan Jennings all occupied roster spots for at least half of the season. All had provided at least some value, and all were subtracted from a team that was already mediocre.
I mentioned earlier that I rarely negatively criticize rooting interests. Another thing I rarely negatively criticize is optimism. I’m jealous of the folks who are overwhelmingly optimistic about everything because I wish I could be the same way (this goes for life in general). This isn’t to say I’m pessimistic about the White Sox, but it is to say that I think the unrealistic optimism during the offseason came at a price. All of this optimism was surrounding a team that was inevitably going to be – let’s face it – pretty bad to start the 2018 season.
We knew this, though, didn’t we? A small collection of posts had been sprinkled around social media about how the White Sox could surprise some people and grab a wild card spot. As this festered over time, a faint glimmer of hope very quickly became a common expectation. I suppose the belief was that some of the young players were going to have breakout starts to the season, and that it would be enough to overcome all of the significant subtractions from the team. Could we really expect this to happen, though?
Fast forward to May 2018, and the beginning of the season has been very depressing so far. The team doesn’t seem to be as fun to watch as we remember from last season. Fans are losing their minds, and social media is a very dark place to be if you’re a White Sox fan. If you ask me, it’s partially because of the lofty expectations that were set in the offseason.
I’m over 500 words into this thing, and I can’t believe I haven’t used the word “rebuild” yet. We’ve all seen the comparisons between the current White Sox team and the Cubs/Astros teams of a few years ago. The Cubs and Astros went through very similar droughts. Heck, the Astros started the 2013 season 10-30! This comparison is not to suggest that a White Sox World Series win in a few years can be expected, but I can say with confidence that you’re not delusional if you think it’s normal for a team to start a season 10-27 during what’s probably the lowest point of a rebuild.
The White Sox have arguably the best young talent in baseball in their system. Over the next few years, we’ll be seeing a lot of talented young players funneling their way through the system. Many of them will probably not work out the way fans would like, but that’s to be expected and that’s why depth within the organization is important.
It’s also helpful to be aware of the progression of the young players this season, even if it’s just minor things here and there. For example: Yoan Moncada has had an excellent all-around start to the season, and Tim Anderson has shown signs of better plate discipline (huge for a player like him).
It’s not a fun season so far, but we can be realistically optimistic, because these are the silver linings to a season like this. If they aren’t acknowledged, it’s difficult to maintain sanity.
I think the bluntest way to say what I’m getting at here is that we have to be patient. There’s no way to guarantee the success of a rebuild, but everything seems a lot less gloomy after realizing that there’s a whole lot of room to go up.
I’m having a hard time with it, too. Trust me. We all know what the end goal is, so let’s try not to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, as far away as it may seem.
Follow Dom on Twitter: @WhiteSoxDom
Feature Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune