Aloha, it is your favorite friend with questionable character. I have been thinking about the 2020 season so I decided to put my thoughts down on paper. To say this has been a unique year is an understatement. White Sox baseball is scheduled to kick off on July 24th. This season, without question, will go down as one of the most unique in baseball history. Many people have said that 2020 does not matter, but for the White Sox this statement is blatantly false. Allow me to explain.
The White Sox have targeted this season to turn the corner on the rebuild. They had intentions of being good. The acquisitions of Grandal, Keuchel, and Encarnacion are evidence of this. This was supposed to be the year to begin the great transformation of the franchise. Frankly, IMO, it HAS to be the year.
The 2020 season presents a unique opportunity for short and long-term success for the South Siders. Being a long-suffering fan who has experienced highs (2005) and lows (The late 1980’s and the last decade), my hope was that this would be the team that would start to shatter the long-term view that I have of the team.
That view is that this team does not know how to win and lacks that championship killer instinct. 2020 presents a great opportunity to build a winning mentality. I say this because there is a path for the White Sox to make the playoffs. If the team can go 18 – 6 against the dregs of the schedule (Detroit, KC, and Pittsburgh) they will only need to go .500 against the remaining competition. Note: thanks to Josh Nelson for planting this seed in my head during his appearance on The Score last week. This would give them 36 wins and a real possibility at a playoff spot.
In order to do this the team will need to do something that they have been terrible at as long as I can remember, with one very notable exception. They need to feast on lesser teams. They cannot do what they have historically done and go .500 against these teams. For years, the White Sox have always found a way to play to the level of their competition. This is the year they can begin to understand that champions destroy the “tomato cans” (a Doug Buffone (RIP) reference to inferior teams) on their schedule. This sprint of a season gives them the perfect opportunity to develop that killer mentality that championship teams possess. They not only need to beat these teams but they need to beat them soundly and consistently. This is something that HAS to be instilled in this team because this season is a sprint, not a marathon. In a 162-game schedule I think the team would fall short but this is a unique opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
I am tired of the Sox teams that ALWAYS had an excuse. Some of the more familiar ones are the dreaded west coast trip, the soft tossing left hander, the pitcher they have never seen, Cy Chen, Cy Mays, and of course the Metrodome curse. How many times did we, as Sox fans, hear these excuses from main cheerleader Hawk? Winning teams don’t make excuses, they win. Do the Yankees dismiss games at Boston because it’s Fenway Park? No, they try and beat them there and feast on teams like the Orioles. The time for excuses is over. It’s time to win.
We have just experienced a decade without a playoff appearance. That is the first time since the 1970s and frankly it is embarrassingly unacceptable for the biggest market team in the division. Here is something else to consider. This team has only 9, yes 9, playoff appearance in their existence, which dates back to 1901, and has NEVER made back to back playoff appearances. Every other team in the division has accomplished this since the Sox moved into the AL Central in 1994. To add further insult to injury, the Cubs under the ownership of the Ricketts have had 4 CONSECUTIVE playoff appearance with a World Series title in there. The White Sox under the current ownership group, which took over in 1981, has a total of 5 playoff appearances (1983, 1993, 2000, 2005, and 2008). Again, disastrously embarrassing.
As I have said all along, and gotten heat for, it is time for the fans to quit bitching about the trivial stuff, such as the “Thunderstruck” opening or bringing in AJ or Ozzie as the next manager. The focus should be on one thing and one thing only: WINNING! For those who want to bring Ozzie back or hire AJ as a manager because they are Sox guys, I ask you why? Why do people think being a “Sox” guy will guarantee success? It won’t because it will just be a continuation of the same issues that have been in place for far too long. Did Ozzie help lead the team to a title, yes, he did. Also remember how his tenure ended, it wasn’t pretty. If anything, we should demand that the ENTIRE coaching staff, especially Don Cooper, be kicked out the door and someone with no ties be brought in to clean and disinfect this house. Winning needs to be the only priority. If this teams actually wins all of the other things won’t matter and people will forget all about them rather quickly. This team needs to cut all ties with the losing past and forge ahead to make a new identity. This season presents a unique opportunity for the team to take steps towards that. I hope they don’t live up to their past failures.