P.O. Sox, Part I: The White Sox’s real record, and what you did to deserve it

There wasn’t room on this week’s Sox Machine Podcast for two kinds of time constraints. For one, we had to carve out some room for Greg Nix’s moving masterpiece at the end of the show.

For another, I went to my first concert since 2019. Neko Case is always great live, especially since her band usually includes some great performers tagging along. This time she had two other the New Pornographers with her (Carl Newman and Joe Seiders). Thumbs up.

Anyway, here’s the first half of the mailbag. I’ll be posting the second half of them tomorrow in an exclusive post for Sox Machine supporters. If you haven’t yet signed up for our Patreon, here’s how to get involved.

Do we have to root for the Sox to do so badly this next month that it forces Jerry to make some changes? I don’t believe in hate watching and rooting for failure, but I don’t see any other way that thing a change in this organization.

— Alec S.

The bad news: With how much the White Sox adore the status quo, whatever it may be, you can’t count on any outcome prompting significant change, which is why I’ve said it’s better for the White Sox to make the postseason than miss it, no matter how unsatisfying.

The good news: Where the White Sox currently stand, every outcome is some degree of embarrassing. If we’re approaching the part of the season where the Titanic cracks in half, obviously that’s an epic scale of tragedy. If they win 79 to 83 games while the Baltimore Orioles win a wild card spot, that’s also humiliating.

If they somehow eke out a division title at 85 wins against a Cleveland team that was content to punt the season, to summon Tom Hanks after counting a vote that determined The Guy Who Played Mr. Belvedere Fan Club would not murder Mr. Belvedere, “It shouldn’t have been that close!”

What did we all do in a previous life to deserve the utter disaster that is the Chicago White Sox?

— Brian S.

I don’t know about me, but I’m guessing one of us had to have been Samuel Gompers.

Who is fired first?

— Rodney S.

If Robin Ventura’s last month is any precedent, then Tony La Russa’s status will hover over the final week of the season, and there will be some kind of decision on him by Game 162, and that would put the rest of the coaching staff in flux. If La Russa decides to stick around, then I’ll say Frank Menechino.

Trade deadline is over, but waivers are still available if teams want to take on full freight if a contract. Assuming certain teams would be happy to let some pending free agents go to save a month’s worth of salary, any candidates out there to do so for a contending team to maybe add a depth piece?

Also: Put us back a few years and assume waiver trades still exist. What would the Sox be trying to do now?

— Tim

In either case, I don’t think there would be much out there. I’m guessing the entire Marlins outfield could be had. Maybe Nelson Cruz? Mike Moustakas? Kole Calhoun? Calhoun is probably the best fit who could be had for free, but that’s because he’s hitting .135/.204/.269 since the start of July.

What would you say the White Sox wind-chill or heat-index adjusted record is?

This question is along the lines of “If you didn’t know what age you were, what age would you guess?”

There are certainly .500 teams that that feel like .600 teams because of exciting play and an upward pointing arrow, and there are .500 teams that feel like .400 for inverse reasons.

So, yeah, the White Sox are at 63-65, but to me it feels a lot more like the Diamondback’s record of 59-67.

–Alister S.

You mean the RealFeel record? This is a good question, because while you have to adjust for the White Sox’s flaws generating a very boring style of play, you also have to account for the fact that a lot of teams would love to have had the White Sox’s starting rotation, at least up until Michael Kopech hit the IL. Or maybe you don’t have to, but I do.

I actually think they feel like a 63-65 team, or at least within a couple of games of it. I think if you dock them past five games under. 500 out of anger, you lose the grip on the pitching being rather competent. (This is subject to change if Johnny Cueto’s velocity loss sticks.)

What’s making the White Sox’s record feel warped is that they’re still in contention for the division despite their best efforts. Here’s where they could rank outside the AL Central:

  • AL East: 15 GB
  • AL West: 18½ GB
  • NL East: 18½ GB
  • NL Central: 10½ GB
  • NL West: 26½ GB (lol)

Before I started looking at the other divisions, I thought the ReelFeel AccuStandings would say the White Sox deserve to be about a dozen games out of first place, and that looks about right.

Let’s have your level-headed (as you can be at the moment) opinion on where Rick Renteria would have this team at this very moment if he kept his job. I know these sort of “what ifs” are essentially useless, but the last month or so has me wondering if the TLR hire was the moment this turned or if it was inevitable with this roster, thanks!

— Jonathan L.

I don’t think it’s a whole lot better, not because these specific problems were inevitable, but because Rick Renteria seemed like he was done with waiting for Carlos Rodón to be reliable, and Rodón was a big reason why the White Sox jumped out to the huge lead in the first half of the 2021 season. If the White Sox non-tendered Rodón, I’m skeptical he re-signs with the White Sox at less than his projected value, even if Renteria were paired with Ethan Katz.

As I wrote when the White Sox fired Renteria, it’s tough for a rebuilding manager to emerge on the other side of it unburdered by the baggage of so much losing. His dismissal was accompanied by claims that he needed to hold veterans more accountable, and that his team needed greater attention to detail. That sounds familiar right now, doesn’t it?

Based on how the White Sox responded to Robin Ventura in 2012 and Renteria in 2017, I think there’s a potential for surprising yields when replacing a manager who has run his course. The White Sox’s toughness and next-man-up abilities during the first half of the 2021 under La Russa might be that same sort of thing, which is why we can only hope the Sox remove La Russa from his current post by any means necessary.

If the Hawaiian Little League team played the rest of the White Sox schedule would they have a better record than this pitiful group?

— Kyle N.

Of course not, but if they moved Guaranteed Rate Field’s fences to 225 feet all around, they might be able to hit opposite-field homers again, and that might be enough to get them back in it.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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StockroomSnail

The White Sox better hope the divisions never realign.

The franchise fee that comes with expansion would be tempting but they’d never sniff the playoffs again.

Last edited 1 month ago by StockroomSnail
Augusto Barojas

I say who cares if they make the playoffs if they are a joke in the postseason each time they do. When I look back, the only year that I really look back on with fondness as a Sox fan was 2005, really. A couple other years were ok, but the disappointment in the playoffs is always remembered more than anything else.

I doubt realignment is going to happen soon, but it would be better if Reinsdorf has to put a really good team on the field if he wants that playoff revenue. I wouldn’t want him to get that this year after Eaton and Kelly were two of their biggest additions the past 2 winters. The last thing that is going to lead to changes is them having a miracle September. I can hear the phony narratives already.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Of course you are going to be disappointed if they lose, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a joke. They got steamrolled by Houston last year (even though we did have the Leury game) and Seattle, but the 2020 Oakland series was competitive, as was the series with Toronto in ’93 and Baltimore in ’83. If you can’t enjoy a season unless they win the World Series, even Yankees fans are going to be miserable most of the time.

HallofFrank

Yes. Plus, it’s almost impossible to tell if they’ll be a joke in the postseason. If they make it this year, they almost certainly got on some kind of heater heading into October. When healthy, this is not a team I’d want to play if I were any other AL team.

But you’re right. The playoffs are just fun. Both 2020 and 2021 were disappointing, but they were still a blast to watch. Sometimes we forget that being a fan of a team is supposed to be enjoyable.

Augusto Barojas

I do agree my statement was misguided, I certainly enjoyed a couple other seasons they made it to the playoffs and were not a joke, ’83 and ’93 come to mind. But it goes without saying that it is much more enjoyable to watch a team that wins and is competitive. And good seasons for the Sox have been few and far between, at best. What we’re seeing now hardly makes up for the prior decade of awfulness.

I would not call watching the playoffs the last two years a blast, personally. They would not have even made the playoffs last year if they were in the AL East. That they played in October was kind of a joke if you asked me. As for this year, it is a bit ridiculous to suggest that any playoff team would want to avoid them. Worst defense, no ability to hit RHP, worst manager, no power, 10th in runs, 11th in ERA… other teams would line up to play them, not avoid. I mean come on now.

Last edited 1 month ago by Augusto Barojas
LamarHoyt_oncrack

Even the Royals or Diamondbacks don’t mind playing the Sox.

Augusto Barojas

To be fair, it would take courage for a team to face a lineup with Leury, and where there is a non-zero probability that he could be hitting third.

Adam

I’m 38 so I don’t really have 93 memories other than highlights.

But I enjoyed 2000 quite a bit. That was a fun team. The first team I saw that grew before my eyes. Just ran in to a tough Seattle team in close playoff games. Long time Ray Durham fan so that also helped.

I also think 2008 was very enjoyable. From fighting back from 2007 to the growth of Danks and Floyd. Carlos Quentin would have been mvp without the September injury. If he and Crede don’t get hurt they could have made a deep run.

Augusto Barojas

True, both of those teams were pretty good. Buehrle and Konerko made even some of the mediocre years tolerable. Buehrle’s last year (and Ozzie’s) in 2011 was the last time they drew 2 million fans. Pretty miserable teams after that.

soxygen

The team doesn’t even need to be particularly good to be fun. For example, I enjoyed the 2019 Sox. They played hard. The season didn’t end with a playoff berth, but the team’s limited successes were earned.

I enjoyed 2006 also – hard luck that we ended up in a division with 3 90+ win teams (if I recall correctly), but it was a fun playoff race because all 3 teams were competitive (unlike this year in which one of three teams will win the division by default).

Last edited 1 month ago by soxygen
ParisSox

In 2000, Jerry Manual got pantsed by Lou Pinella.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

A more balanced schedule will not be kind to the Sox going forward

ParisSox

Wild coincidence – a couple of weeks ago I found Neko Case’s “Blacklisted” on vinyl from my local record store in my small French city.

(I’m no longer in Paris but “PoitiersSox” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as nicely.)

As Cirensica

She has so many great albums. My favorite is “The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You”, but mostly because it has a monument in it with the song “City Swans”. Neko shows are great, and I am sure Jim had a blast.

Last edited 1 month ago by As Cirensica
ParisSox

Kelly Hogan. That’s a blast from the past. I don’t remember what incarnation of band I saw her in at either Schuba’s or Hideout, but I clearly remember that she was very impressive.

Josh Nelson

How’s Taco and Co.?

Tacos and Co
+33 5 49 30 67 82
https://maps.app.goo.gl/Kyxw4dEg59tMNgUj8

ParisSox

Just a fast food chain. Seems rather ok from looks – I.e. more appetizing than Taco Bell – but I’ve never tried it.

As Cirensica

I had to research about Samuel Gompers. Jim and his mania to leave us homework. 😋

ParisSox

If this blog was around pre-Google, Jim would have us all running to the library.

Joliet Orange Sox

Joliet has a Gompers Junior High School. My kids went to a different junior high but lots of district event were at Gompers because it had an auditorium.

Gompers the man had serious xenophobe issues with the Chinese (like many of his time) but doesn’t seem evil enough for karma to punish us with this team.

Willardmarshall

My wife went to elementary school in Miami with his granddaughter (or niece).

As Cirensica

Maybe his granddaughter, from my research this morning, I found out he married young and had a lot of kids although many died young.

funkerdan

Imagine if we still lived in the times when you had 21 kids because they wouldn’t all live to be adults.. I have a friend who’s mother was 1 of 21. It would have been fun to ask her of her experiences if only she wasn’t already dead along with the other 20.

Edit: we would have seen the White Sox win 2 world series and throw a third.

Last edited 1 month ago by funkerdan
funkerdan

if they move the fences in, the Royals will never not hit a homerun. The sox will only get outs instead of singles.