by Mohammad Samra / Staff Reporter
I’ve tried to form rational opinions about Chicago sports teams over the last couple of months, but I’m afraid I can’t refrain from ranting about the most unlovable team in the Windy City, the Chicago White Sox.
I was born and raised as a Chicago Cubs fan, and for as long as I’ve loved the Cubs, I’ve hated the Sox. I’m thankful that I wasn’t old enough to see them win the World Series in 2005, two years after Steve Bartman single-handedly added 13 extra seasons to the Cubs’ championship drought.
While the Cubs finally ended their suffering in 2016, the Sox have only had two winning seasons this decade. The front office constantly pushes the idea of “a bright future,” but who can trust what owner Jerry Reinsdorf says? He also owns the Chicago Bulls — who are in the same endless loop of mediocrity as the Sox, with no end in sight.
If there was an award that went to the team with the most links to key free agents, the Sox would win in a heartbeat, although it’d be the only trophy they’d receive for the rest of the century.
They were connected to star third baseman Manny Machado and coveted right fielder Bryce Harper last offseason, but they signed to the San Diego Padres and the Philadelphia Phillies respectively.
This offseason, they’ve been named potential suitors for World Series Most Valuable Player Stephen Strasburg, as well as dominant starting pitcher Gerrit Cole and elite hitter Anthony Rendon. All three played in the 2019 World Series, but each player is projected to land a $200 million deal. Unless Reinsdorf decides to actually spend money on free agents for a change, it is unlikely that they will land any of the three.
Barring any shocking offseason moves, the Sox will once again be a team without a direction. Rick Renteria, who coached the Cubs through their last losing season in 2014, is entering his fourth season as manager for the White Sox with very little to work with. Next year’s team will be led by strikeout-machine Tim Anderson, although it is very likely that first baseman Jose Abreu will be back on the South Side, assuming an outlandish, decade-long $180 million-type deal is offered to the 32-year-old, who has already left his best playing days behind him.
The Sox will continue to sit near the bottom of the American League Central deep into the 2020’s. The absence of a household name will make it incredibly difficult to pack Guaranteed Rate Field on a nightly basis. The Cubs at least had the aura of historic Wrigley Field to distract fans from the on-field product, but the only time the Sox can boost attendance is when their neighbors to the north come to visit for the “Crosstown Classic.”
Nothing really stands out about this team other than a few players like power hitter Eloy Jimenez (acquired from the Cubs) and underrated second baseman Yoan Moncada. Most of the roster consists of players who wouldn’t be starters on a majority of major-league teams. Nobody wants to willingly pay $27 to watch the Triple-A Sox lose 6-2 to a Detroit Tigers squad that’s just as abysmal.
The future doesn’t look very bright on the South Side of Chicago. The Cubs at least are going into next season with a blueprint to get back to where they once were. The Sox look like they want to keep tanking until they have a team full of top-five draft picks. They’re relying too much on unproven prospects to carry them back into the postseason, and if the 2015 Cubs taught us anything, it’s that inexperience won’t win you a World Series.
Don’t worry about it too much, Sox fans. They’ll reclaim that elusive championship in 2114, and you can party like it’s 2005. Until then, the White Sox can take a back seat while the Commissioner’s Trophy makes its way back to Wrigley Field.