The White Sox have arrived, and they’re in no hurry to disperse

Feb 24, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn looks on as outfielder Luis Robert bats during a spring training workout at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Dennis Lin and Eno Sarris combined to publish an autopsy of the San Diego Padres. As somebody who has tracked the intertwining courses of the dramatic, erratic rebuilds in Chicago and San Diego, one line jumped out to me:

Meanwhile, the team’s unraveling is bringing scrutiny to the GM who handpicked Tingler and who has yet to oversee a winning record in a full season.

This felt like a damning sentence, but because the fortunes of the White Sox and Padres have often run on parallel tracks, the same could’ve been said about Rick Hahn, who assumed the GM position with the White Sox two seasons earlier than Preller. He also saw his first attempt at rebuilding collapse in embarrassing fashion, thanks in part to the same elements, like a need for costly veteran patches who didn’t fit and a manager who was way in over his head.

And look at the White Sox now!

That’s said somewhat tongue in cheek, but when you read the rest of the story, you can see the same markers of dysfunction that finally led the White Sox to blow it up — a jumbled organizational hierarchy, a lack of cohesion on the roster, a manager with a kick-me sign on his back, stalled prospects who flourished elsewhere.

The rebuild might’ve been a lengthy detour from competition, but at least they got a thorough detox out of it. The White Sox’s next core had time to get used to each other out of the spotlight. Rick Renteria doesn’t get enough credit for establishing a durable set of standards during a period of intentional losing. When the White Sox finally committed to adding good, important veterans, they all found their places. Only Dallas Keuchel grumbled, but after two years, two managers and two kinds of performances, I think we can just call Dallas Keuchel a grumbler. In fact, the structural integrity was so sound that it was able to withstand the risks of the Tony La Russa hiring, then leverage the strengths.

The result is a postseason appearance that feels durable the way other winning seasons didn’t. We shouldn’t overlook the weakness of the AL Central, which had no other teams finish over .500, and the Twins are passed out in the corner as a cautionary tale of a buckled foundation. Still, the White Sox got in their own way so often over the previous decade that they turned the Central into a six-team division. It turns out the path to the top is so much easier when you don’t have to plow through heaping piles of baggage and BS.

This came to mind when listening to Steve Stone get surprisingly emotional after the regular-season finale.

The last time we heard a shaking voice in the booth, Stone was sitting quietly alongside it, contemplating how or whether to connect with a sobbing Hawk Harrelson. Their relationship was famously distant, and not just figuratively. Over on the Yankees braodcast, Michael Kay and Ken Singleton spent time after Singleton’s retirement announcement on Saturday remembering how far apart Stone and Harrelson sat, and how they never looked at each other.

Not everybody cares for the off-the-wall tangents between Stone and Jason Benetti, but everybody can agree that the broadcast sounds healthier, more vibrant, more sustainable. Stone is so steadfast in stiff-arming sentiment that I’d only expect to hear this kind of emotion during a retirement announcement, which makes a small slice of my brain wonder if that’s what we heard.

With nothing else to reinforce that notion, I’m left to treat it more like tears of joy. The White Sox might have plenty of ways to improve, but they’re a lot better at making and surviving tough decisions, and that’s a big part of the battle. Now they’re entering a second consecutive postseason for the first time in franchise history, and they’re a credible pick to win it all. Further nit-picking can wait until the Offseason Plan Project. If Stone is finally letting his guard down, perhaps it’s a signal for everybody to do the same.

(Photo by Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports)

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This team is going to be a powerhouse for a good long while. Say what you want about Hahn during his 7 consecutive losing seasons (and I was one of his biggest critics), he has built a team that should be WS contenders for at least the next 4 years. If Jerry pushes the payroll up over $150M, they should be able to fill the few holes they have will real quality. They don’t even need superstars- they have plenty of those already. The 20s should go down as the best decade in White Sox history- which of course isn’t saying much.


They were smart. Even the Keuchel deal is not the kind of FA deal that sinks the ship or prevents other moves.


I wondered the same thing about Stone’s retirement.

Alternate explanation: there may be something that happened during the season that we don’t know about.

Alternate alternate explanation: Darrin Jackson and Ed Farmer used to refer to each other as best friends. Steve is divorced and I don’t think he has any children. It’s possible that Jason is one of the closest people in his life and his choking up may reflect that.


I believe he remarried in 2006


And divorced in 2010

As Cirensica

Stone lost his dog this year too, and he was very emotional about it. He tweeted about it.

As Cirensica


I got my first a couple years ago. Most people like dogs but until you have one, you don’t understand how great they can be as companions. They will treat you better than any person ever will. I can understand his pain.

As Cirensica

Chief is still a puppy, right?. They can be a handful, but pets are wonderful to have around. I can’t even imagine not having my cats at home. Confident you’ll say “I can say that” soon.

Joliet Orange Sox

In December of 2019, we put down both our dogs in the same week. We knew neither had a long time left but there was some surprise that it was quite as soon as it was in each case. It was devastating. With my daughter home over the holidays, she got us going to the Will County Humane Society “just to look” and of course we came home with a dog they said was 6 months old or so who had been dropped off by someone who said they couldn’t handle her. A few months later in February of 2020, my wife came home from the vet with another dog under a year old that someone had found in a forest preserve.

There were some times later in the spring of 2020, when I definitely thought we had made not one but two mistakes in adopting these dogs. However, the two adopted dogs have now settled in and I am now very happy they are part of our home. My wife and I have always had dogs over the last 30 years so we’re experienced dog owners and I’d like to say we had some miracle advice but I don’t. I think it was just a matter of the dogs maturing as they became adults.

As dog adopters and not buyers, we’ve only had a couple really young dogs prior to these two but they were hard too till they got a bit older. Young dogs are very energetic and fun but they are hard because they never calm down like adult dogs do (I can see my two dogs asleep as I type this.). My advice is to treat Chief well and try to connect with him by taking him on walks and playing with him but also relax and realize that things will be so much easier when he’s a bit older. (My kids worked the same way.)

As Cirensica

Wonderful words. Thank you for typing this. I have to put down pets in the past (they should live longer lives), and no matter what, it hurst just like losing a family member, just like Steve Stone said in his tweet. They’re family.

Joliet Orange Sox

I expect Chief is a fine dog (most dogs are). I was only trying to say that you just have to wait instead of going down rabbit holes of various training methods like we did before we saw the pattern of every dog we had calming down between 18 months and 2 years of age regardless of our training approach.

As Cirensica



Fangraphs giving the White Sox the best odds in the AL


Not quite, as they have Houston with a 16.3% chance to win it all, better than the Sox at 13.3%. Not sure why they put the Astros in the third tier.

Joliet Orange Sox

My guess is they have the Sox rated as a better team but have the Astros with a better chance to win because of home field advantage.


The Sox have a chance to win the ALDS and ALCS. But their chances are not better than the Rays, I mean come on. The Rays won 100 games in a division with 3 other 90 win teams, as someone else pointed out. Sox had close to weakest overall schedule.

Hope they get past the Astros at least and get to play the Rays.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Screw the Rays. If you love the Rays so much why don’t you marry them.


Chill RSWS. It’s OK to love the Sox while respecting other teams that consistently meet/exceed expectations.


Jeez dude, take a pill. What are you like twelve?

Right Size Wrong Shape

jhomeslice and the Rays sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…


One of the betting sites has Astros +225, Rays +240, Sox +300 to win ALCS. For whatever iw.



Last edited 1 year ago by joewho112

I wouldn’t assume that Stone’s rare lapse into emotion necessarily predicts a retirement. At least I hope it doesn’t. For many years with Harrelson, Stone routinely got ignored, interrupted, and contradicted. Now he is paired with a partner who defers to his knowledge, asks him questions, and generally sets up a context that allows him to make the best use of his gifts. Stone has always had a soft spot for people who treat him respectfully, so I suspect he got choked up at having to say goodbye until spring. When his retirement finally comes, I hope he’ll give us all enough advance notice so we can give him a proper send off.


Hawk made things awkward with his “this is how it is, and if you disagree you’re an idiot!” rants. Not only is that how morons speak, but despite his immense knowledge Stone isn’t that type of guy. And I actually think working with Hawk made him realize even more how much he didn’t want to be perceived as some angry old “back in my day…” type dope.

It was also weird considering Hawk was a position player and Stone a pitcher; ideally you would have been getting perspectives from each side that would inform. Instead you just got an angry ranting blowhard.


This team cruised to a division title with remarkably few questions despite injuries to key players. Sure, the division was weak, but not once after the first few weeks did I ever feel like a collapse was coming. Credit to the FO for building a team that had real depth— even if that meant finding depth that wasn’t expected to be depth at the start of spring training— and credit to TLR for keeping the cruise control steady.

As for Stone… his multiple absences this season have led me to believe he’s privately dealing with a serious health concern, one that may force him to retire from the booth sooner than he wants. I love him and Benetti, but I’ve had a sneaking feeling this might be their last full season together.


Did he have more absences that usual? I know every year he takes off a road trip or two and missing games that coincide with Jewish holidays

Brett R. Bobysud

Something else to keep in mind, this is the first time the Sox have made the playoffs in a full-season since Stone became part of the TV crew.

I think it’s safe to say that this has been the most enjoyable season for Steve in a decent while and coming right after the year everyone has had, it probably made it all the sweeter.


This Sox fan since 1953 never thought he’d see such a copacetic confluence of coverage as provided by Benetti, Stone, Margalus, Nelson and Fegan….Team’s not bad, either….


Renteria get another big gig? Be something if he took the helm for the Padres.


We have some game times. Thursday 3, Friday 1, Sunday 7


Oh man, did anyone see Hahn on Chicago Tonight just now? He so obviously still loathes the LaRussa hire.


Seriously? I would think Hahn would hide that publicly. I can’t say I disagree with his sentiment if he can’t hide it. I still believe the Sox would be hosting the Astros if Hinch was the hire.


Oh he did try believe me, I just don’t think he can hide it 100%.


Thanks for the link. What’s really funny is that the original broadcast didn’t have the game clips; they showed his immediate reaction to the question, and his face literally said it all in my humble opinion.

But yeah, it’s hilarious that he responds by talking generally about the team being in a good position.


I wish I had seen facial expressions. Watching the link Jim sent with his face covered by the highlights, it’s hard to tell that there is any resentment in his voice, honestly.


I saw the entire interview. I don’t think there is much there. The tone of Rick’s voice/language was pretty consistent throughout the interview including his response re Tony. Actually all of Rick’s responses to questions were pretty blah, I didn’t find any of it insightful.

Perhaps Rick could have given more credit to Tony regarding his line-up construction to ease the “load burden”, but I assume that the overall strategy for roster construction (re giving time off to players) was jointly decided between Tony and his superiors.

Last edited 1 year ago by Amar

To be fair, have you ever seen an interview where Rick showed some crazy level of emotion? Even when he had a mic in his face after Kopech blew out his arm and you could tell he wanted to scream and kick the nearest trash can, he still projected that Bob Ross level of chill as best he could.

As Cirensica

It looked definitely awkward to say the least. This could change (either way) within the next weeks or so.


I missed half of what he said, was just trying to figure out what was on his bookshelf.


The story on the Padres was interesting. It wasn’t so much dysfunction rather than the GM putting together a very good team on paper that didn’t seem to come together. Obviously they had a ton of injuries, but so did the Sox. And yes, the manager was in over his head. But really, it was some of the moves Preller made were forced and he didn’t seem to stick to the plan or have one really. They gave up a ton of prospects and org depth for players that just didn’t perform
as expected.
This is why we’re fortunate to have Rick Hahn as our GM. I believe he’s learned from his two biggest mistakes (the Jeff Szamardzja and Shields trades) to be more patient with his vision and let the young players mature together to form an incredible rapport. I think we all as Sox fans wanted them to spend more on big names, but that doesn’t always equal success. Hopefully we have found the right formula that will bring several more seasons of fun and successful baseball.