When I saw the White Sox encouraging the blackout scheme for their home game(s) of the ALDS, my thoughts first turned to the 2008 ALDS, and how the attempt to recreate the magic in Game 163 lost a lot of its charge when they didn’t have a chance to send the other team packing.
In 2021, just like 2008, the White Sox have to win tonight. Then they have to win again. And even if they do that, they’ll have to win on the road in order to stand a chance of advancing. It’d be cool if the Sox could play a blackout game where a win has a major reward, rather than merely the avoidance of a massive punishment.
Alas, this is the hand White Sox fans have been dealt, and one they’re used to receiving. They’re required to make their own fun while hoping the team can once again take charge of the enjoyment factor.
If you’re looking for inspiration, Matt Kelley of MLB.com recapped all the series where a team rallied from down 0-2 in the Divisional Series era. There are more teams than you’d think:
- 2017: Yankees over Indians
- 2015: Blue Jays over Rangers
- 2012: Giants over Reds
- 2003 ALDS: Red Sox over A’s
- 2001 ALDS: Yankees over A’s
- 1999 ALDS: Red Sox over Indians
- 1995 ALDS: Mariners over Yankees
Three of those comebacks were stamped with all-time, gold-leafed October moments — Ken Griffey Jr’s slide in 1995, the Derek Jeter flip in 2001, and José Bautista’s bat toss in 2015. Like those teams, the White Sox will probably need a signature performance or two in order to get the job done. Unlike those teams, they’d have to finish said job away from home.
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Whether the White Sox survive the weekend, at least the postseason appearance generated a few worthwhile articles about the those who spend their summers following them.
The New York times wrote about the unique impact of the White Sox’s Latino-heavy lineup, which dovetails with an article in the Chicago Tribune by Stephanie Casanova about the team’s Latino fan base, which fans say is more prominent and more welcomed than those in other cities. I particularly enjoyed the lede:
One of Ramon Navarro’s most prized possessions is a White Sox Starter jacket, the one his grandpa, Reyes Pineda, used to wear all the time.
“The man was never not repping the team,” Navarro said of his grandfather. “There’s a photo of my First Communion, and there’s my grandpa in the church right in front of the big family picture with his nice satin White Sox starter jacket on. Over top of a shirt and a tie.
“There’s pictures of us en el rancho in Michoacan with some of his family, and it’s like 90 degrees outside. I still remember because it was hot and the man’s wearing that jacket,” he added.
Also in the Trib was this column from Christopher Borrelli about the bleachers at Guaranteed Rate Field, which has developed its own identity as of late. As somebody who has only made it to Sox Park once this year, I mainly only hear about it with regards to fights, but Borrelli paints a more detailed picture, with an assist from BeefLoaf.
Indeed, one night I attended, here’s what I saw in the bleachers:
A row of fans from Chatham.
A cluster from Bridgeport.
I met fans from Old Irving Park. Austin. River North. I saw two men in matching steelworkers polos, and a row of women in matching José Abreu jerseys. I saw porkpie hats, neck tattoos, dresses, cargo shorts, overalls. I often saw the day-off recline — arms outstretched, body tilted backward. I saw two people — two! — reading physical newspapers. Whenever a play was close, the section turned in unison, like eager geese, to see a replay on the scoreboard. What I saw was not overly rowdy or ugly but buoyant. At worst, charming pirate behavior. A man complained about his lemonade to a concession worker, and the whole row began taunting: “MY LEMONADE! MY LEMONADE!” Go back to the fancy sections, with its cup holders and bucket seats. Pretensions just will not do back here, in these green metal benches stretching from Section 160 to Section 164, between bronze statues of Carlton Fisk and Paul Konerko, the finest seats in Chicago.
As someone who moved away from the Midwest 20+ years ago and only occasionally gets to Chicago for games, I like the picture painted by these accounts of Sox fans in the stands.
My actual experience with Sox fans online in 2021 indicates that fans are polarized, distrustful, and uninterested or incapable of engaging in pleasant back and forth discussions between people with different perspectives on their favorite sport or sports team.
I miss the friendlier comment fields and more engaging and constructive dialogs. Maybe it’s just easier to get along when the team is awful, but maybe we need more of the esprit de corps that exists in the stands in the comment fields.
Well said on both accounts.
I’m really happy Jim highlighted these stories I might have missed. The mental image conjured by Grandfather Pineda in some sepia-toned polaroid of First Communion” with that jacket on made me smile from ear to ear.
I was extremely active in the SSS and later SoxMachine comment sections, not to mention making r/whitesox something of a second home from 2016 through 2020.
And yet the tone of it all pushed me out this year, and it’s hard to imagine going back to that level of activity.
A lot of that was related to the Tony La Russa cult of personality. Some of it started last year with Covid, Trump, and bled into this year with anti-mask, anti-vax. Some of it was actions taken (or not taken) by the team just finally wearing on me.
Maybe it’s just the inevitable cycle of starting out with fresh eyes, being one of the “kids these days” that the old timers complain about.
But when you look at how toxic the fan bases of a lot of winning teams are, some of it might just be the inevitable painful culture shift that happens when something goes mainstream.
Idk. I’m very very glad I still have Sox Machine to count on as at least a respite from the worst of Reddit and Twitter. But it’s hard to stay quite as engaged when the total ecosystem is so much less enjoyable than it was.
I think part of it is there are two groups of fans — ones who get reward out of baseball as a six-month companion, and ones seek reward from the postseason. And I’m sure there’s some overlap, or people who flip the switch from the former group to the latter group when a World Series is possible. But the stakes are elevated, the decisions are more important, being wrong is more costly, so everything gets more heated.
The only thing I’d change to Jim Margalus’s post is I’d have said twelve-month companion. I check this site and a couple other baseball sites every day of every year even when I’m busy enough that my other interests beyond my family and work are put aside. I think there’s lots of people like me. If the Sox lose tonight or tomorrow or…, I’ll keep following the post-season like I do every year and then go through the cycle of winter meetings, free agency, non-roster invitees, spring training, …
I do know a few people for whom winning is a much more central part of their fandom. I wonder how they picked this team to root for. To be honest, a few of them rooted for a different team 5 years ago.
Well hell yeah.
I’m with you. Everyday, every morning, I take my first coffe with a bit of frothed milk, one splenda, and Sox Machine. I’m a fan of the White Sox, but above all, I’m a fan of baseball. And I’m a fan 365 days a year.
I second that emotion
Yes. And i think Sox Machine is a big reason I enjoy Sox baseball, year ‘round. Like, in the shower this morning I was getting excited about my moves for the OPP. I’m demented.
This is a fun game to follow and this is a fun Sox team, even if the Sox lose tonight.
Everyone on here wants the Sox to win, obviously. I think the spectrum of beliefs/attitudes on here range from naive optimism praising and defending whatever the Sox do, to hardened cynicism and being overly critical, with most people more in the middle, wanting to be optimstic yet realistic and objective.
Nobody likes disappointment, especially when it is predictable. Sox fans have endured some very lean years, with the promise that things will get better. And they have. But hopes were pretty high this year, and I don’t think anybody would have settled for a first round playoff flop at the start of the year even if it was nice to make the playoffs two years in a row for the first time. They are headed in the right direction, but there is a clear gap between where they want to be and the team they have. Time and the development of guys like Vaughn and Kopech can help, but it’s going to take more than that.
They are better than they have played, but it also isn’t luck that they are down 2-0 having lost each game convincingly. I’ve maintained that if Grandal is the highest paid FA signing of this rebuild, they are very likely to come up short of a World Series. So far our owner has been one of empty promises in the eyes of many, i.e. “the money will be spent” (aka Eaton rather than Springer). The Sox have holes and there are FA’s this offseason (Castellanos for starters) that would be a great fit if our owner makes good on his word. If he does, I think greater optimism on here would follow and the results would justify that. If he doesn’t, that will speak for itself; Sox fans aren’t stupid.
It will speak for itself, and I’ll come back to this team anyway. I always have, and I always will. I didn’t quit this team when Jerry threatened to move, when he traded most of the pitching staff of a pretty decent club that was 3 or so games out of first in August 1996, when they feigned interest in signing Bryce Harper, or when they hired LaRussa knowing that he had just been booked for his second DUI. I’m truly hopeless.
Nah, you are not hopeless. Only the Bears are hopeless.
I hope Jerry keeps his promise and justifies your loyalty. Otherwise, he doesn’t deserve it, or anybody else’s. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this life that has nothing to do with baseball, it is that loyalty can be gravely misplaced.
I have a feeling they will come through this winter for once with an unexpected signing that will get people excited, we’ll see.
Please say the unexpected signing isn’t Ken Griffey Junior, because I don’t think I could handle that much joy again!
Sox fan for sure but my level of engagement depends on their level of commitment.
I think it would be fair to compare the 2016 roster to today’s roster to see if the 5-year wait was worth it.
Curiousity…you are not gonna believe it. Kike Hernández has 7 straight hits in this post season. Three hitters are tied with all time record with 8. One of them is currently a White Sox coach whose manager at that time was no other tha Tony la Russa. For the one answer Sportcle, who am I talking about?
Correct. The other two hitters with 8 hits are Reggie Jackson and Billy Hatcher.