There are certainly a host of disappointing teams in MLB this year. More so than usual it feels like, with the Mets, Padres, and Cardinals face down in a muck they never considered being in back in the spring. You can throw the Mariners on there if you’re feeling truly dispirited and want to take it out on someone, given the promise they did show last season. Yet all of those teams are still, at least barely, within sight of .500 at least. You can kind of envision where so many things went wrong with them that they just couldn’t win more games than they lose. Sometimes you spend a summer eating shit and end up at 78 wins or something. It’s not satisfying, but you can at least see the road that would have gotten you where you thought you were going.
And then there are the Chicago White Sox, a nexus of bewilderment, incompetence, indifference, and just plain misery. Comiskey Park is where light simply cannot escape.
The White Sox spent their weekend getting their dicks kicked back through their assholes by the Twins, which is how it normally goes for the Sox for the past 10 or 15 years. They got swept, the coup de moron being Sunday, when they blew a three-run lead in the 9th inning, and then another one-run lead in the 10th, before completing their full-body dry heave in the 12th to lose 5-4. The loss put their record at 41-60, 12 games out in by far the worst division in the American League and possibly worst in all of MLB. They have the third-worst record in the AL, with only the Royals and whatever crime it is that John Fisher is perpetrating under the name of the A’s. Only the Rockies are worse in the National League.
But the thing is, those three teams aren’t trying. The Royals claim to be in a rebuild, even if it feels like they’re just moving a pile of mud from one spot to another while claiming it’s a foundation. The A’s are literal theft. The Rockies have been blindfolded in a dark room with no door for a while now. This is where these teams live.
The White Sox tripped over a tree root and fell down through some portal buried in the ground to get here (and probably pulled a hamstring while doing so). While they certainly didn’t do all they could to be really good, they were planning on being good. This was a team that had a manager for real falling asleep in the dugout last year as they repeatedly threw their gloves at batted balls, turned the wrong way on the bases, and watched all of their soft tissue turn to chowder. Surely the Sox could find any warm body who would install just a modicum of professionalism and baseball IQ and watch the White Sox get to the 88 wins it would take to win the AL Central on autopilot. It couldn’t have been that hard.
Instead, they hired some giblet who worked for Ned Yost and Mike Matheny who says shit like this:
This was the whole thing last year, as Tony La Russa would wipe the drool from his face and explain away Eloy Jimenez or Luis Robert or Tim Anderson sauntering down to first like they weren’t completely sure of the directions by saying they were hurt. They were always hurt. Why were they playing if they couldn’t actually do part of the job? No one knew. And it’s still happening (but hey, Eloy did homer on Sunday. Worked out for everyone).
Tim Anderson is dead. No one’s seen Yoan Moncada for three years. Their big free agent signing Andrew Benintendi can’t hit the ball to the warning track. Lance Lynn is watching nearly a quarter of the fly balls he gives up leave the park because his fastball has a “Kick Me” sign on it. They’re just the latest team to try and convince themselves that Joe Kelly is good because he has a persona. Liam Hendriks beat cancer to rush back to this team, and the sight of it caused him to hurt himself (or save himself) and not be around it. Their infield defense is a 4th grade play and three-quarters of the kids have chicken pox.
But perhaps most galling for Sox fans is that the actual baseball is still wretched. They don’t make the right decisions, they get thrown out on the bases, they don’t take good ABs, and they can’t catch anything but an IL stint. This was supposed to be addressed by hiring anyone from the list marked, “Not La Russa” and they fucked that up.
Worst of all, the other disappointing teams have a road back. Some players getting back to their norms, a smart trade or two, maybe another signing. They can be reshaped.
The Sox are utterly fucked. They’ll sell next week before the deadline, whatever they can at least. But they’re stuck with most of it. Their prospect depth would be described as “a brackish pool in the alley.” We know Jerry Reinsdorf isn’t going to buy his way out of trouble, and will kill the sport to keep those who want to from doing so if he has to. Next February they’ll try to convince themselves, again, that Jimenez’s hamstrings won’t sound like rice krispies three weeks into the season or Jake Burger won’t get himself killed with a glove on or Andrew Vaughn really is the right-handed Kyle Schwarber. They have no choice.
It really wasn’t long ago, just three years, that most people thought the Sox had the most exciting collection of young talent in baseball. It’s hard to think of such a collection turning to ash so quickly in recent baseball history, at least outside of Queens. They wanted to be good, thought they were, and ended up passed out in the barn covered in shit anyway. You have to try to be this bad. The Sox were without knowing it.
Which probably means they’re headed back to where they were and really where they’re most happy, a team no one realizes exists until they pop up on the schedule against their favorite. A baseball rest area, inhabited by some of the strangest people you’ll ever see and never find anywhere else but there, all the while wondering where they could possibly come from and where they’re going, deep down knowing they may not be going anywhere. And then wiped from the mind forever for your own health, so you don’t realize that those people vote and deal with the meaning of that.
It’s a wonder the Sox even bothered to try anything else.
Follow Sam on Twitter (or whatever the dipshit is calling it today) @Felsgate or on BlueSky @Felsgate.bsky.social