Since the White Sox hadn’t reached the postseason of a traditional 162-game season since 2008, I’m learning about all the ways a prolonged streak of Octoberless baseball formed my writing and site-management habits. For instance, I was far more hesitant to make fall plans with any meaning this year, whereas a couple years ago I suggested a wedding date for the second half of October because there was zero threat of overlap.
There’s also the matter of playoff baseball looming over typical first-week-of-October posts like minor league affiliate recaps and the year-in-review fare, because the significance of the ALDS made the minors look exceedingly minor by comparison, and we had to wait for the White Sox to finish the postseason — or, more accurately, the postseason to finish the White Sox — to understand whether additional series changed the way we interpreted the regular season.
I’m seeing a similar shift in my attitude towards the best/worst games lists. The White Sox had so many victories that it was hard to pick 10, which is why I use the “companion game” device to stretch the 2021 list past a baker’s dozen.
PERTINENT: The top 10 White Sox winners of 2021
Baseball being a zero-sum game, there are far fewer losses to sort through. What’s more, in a season where the White Sox coasted to a division title, a fair chunk of the losses were of the can’t-win-’em-all variety. Even if they took particularly ugly forms, they were sprinkled in between streaks of far better play, which made everything more forgivable.
We still maintained the tag for regular-season losses that might stand out at the end of the year, and they’re easy enough to remember when seeing the score, or maybe just a few details from the recap. Just like other years, we can sort them into varieties.
Outright stinkers where position players pitched:
- Angels 9, White Sox 3 on Sept. 16 (Romy González)
- Red Sox 11, White Sox 4 on April 19 (Yermín Mercedes and Danny Mendick)
Slides into the sea:
Losses within losses:
- Blue Jays 6, White Sox 2 on June 9 (Nick Madrigal’s injury)
- Cleveland 5, White Sox 0 on May 2 (Luis Robert’s injury)
Games against Houston:
- Most of ’em
Still, none of these threatened the White Sox’s chances for a division title, which cost them a fair percentage of their significance. In previous losing seasons, I felt compelled to categorize the losses where their shortcomings manifested themselves in particularly egregious forms. When you’re inundated with 85 to 100 losses year after year, it feels useful to highlight the ones that best symbolized how far the rebuild had to go.
In a full winning season where October can be anticipated two months out, losses take on a different meaning. By the time September rolled around, White Sox fans were intimately familiar with all of the potential pitfalls that had been exposed over the first five months of the season. The way the offense tended to disappear against good teams. The right-handedness. The ground-ball ruts. Liam Hendriks’ home-run issues, Craig Kimbrel’s everything issues. Tony La Russa’s traditionalist leanings. The unclear health. Some might’ve been back of mind, but they were ready to be summoned at a moment’s notice in the event of a bad matchup.
In this light, detailing the individual losses feels unnecessary. It’s a relic from 2013 or 2016 or 2018 when a White Sox blog’s readership was mostly sickos …
… but when more of the readership is drawn to the White Sox by actual entertainment value than mere summer ritual, there are more constructive ways to process the defeats besides rubbernecking. A lot of them will probably make their ways into the Offseason Plan Project, which will be opening up a week from now. Adjust your plans accordingly.
So I’ve been thinking about this as Atlanta makes their run thru the playoffs. We talked last winter how Eddie Rosario or Joc Pederson would have been a better signing for the Sox than Adam Eaton. Then both struggled thru the regular season, and ended up getting traded to the Braves. But now they are killing it in the postseason, and Pederson has had other good postseasons with the Dodgers before this. Would it make sense for the Sox to go after one of those guys in the offseason? What the Sox need is left-handed bats to put near the middle of the lineup to help break up the righthandedness. But what they really need is someone to perform in the postseason. Pederson and Rosario are near the heart of the order for a team that is about to end the Dodgers run, and they are 2 big reasons why. Let’s face it, the Sox will be overwhelming favorites to win the division next year. They don’t need regular season stars. They need guys who are not intimidated by the bright lights of the playoffs.
I don’t think there is any chance the Sox will add quality at all 3 needy positions – starting pitcher, 2b, RF; if they did the budget would be closer to $200 K than 150, and I don’t think that likely (please Jerry surprise me). That said, I see Sheets/Engel as a better bet than Pederson/Rosario – much more upside. In particular, I think Pederson has Adam Dunn potential if he came to the WS.
If they save $ in RF, then they COULD spend at SP and 2b – Stroman and Semien?
Stroman wont play for Tony.
Let’s hope there’s baseball in 2022 and that next year’s team is better positioned to win in the playoffs. I do think that most young teams are intimidated by the playoffs, so I’d expect next year’s team to perform a little better under the bright lights.
Maybe Pederson would have made sense before, but he probably won’t be a part of my offseason plan. I don’t think that the Sox need a cheap, mediocre, platoon player with success in a small sample of previous post-season plate appearances. I think they need an everyday player, preferably left-handed, who has proven that they can consistently make solid contact. At a minimum, we know we need to cover 2B and RF, and one of those should be a left-handed bat who doesn’t need to be platooned and who could competently hit in the top half of our lineup versus RHP.
But that’s the goal, and the fun part of the offseason plan exercise is just trying to see if it even works “on paper.” I keep thinking that the best two bats available who meet our positional needs are Semien and Castellanos, both of whom are right handed. So maybe the exercise for me is just finding a competent left-handed RF to pair with Semien, or a competent left-handed 2B to pair with Castellanos.
I just realized I’ve never seen Jim Margalus and Kelly in the same room.
“Kelly” refers to Stan Kelly, the fictional political cartoonist for the Onion. He draws political cartoons which often include strawman “sickos” to prove his points. https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/sickos-haha-yes
Whoops. Before this post I didn’t realize that the sicko graphic had entered the meme realm.
The sicko’s pic reminded me of one of my favorite misery induced images from here and that’s the Mark Teahen defensive flowchart. I dont have it anymore as it was on an old PC but it was a good one.
Don’t know if this was discussed yesterday but Marshall will be out all of next year
I was around following White Sox blogs in 2013 and 2016 and 2018 when you say the readership was mostly sicko’s. I remember the other readers and commenters seeming no more sick than I am.