The face of hope. // Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
I know what time it is. It’s 2014 and it’s SoxFest weekend; the point of the year where the fan audience and the news media seem simultaneously most desperate for something resembling a story or even information worth passing on. In response the White Sox offer them a wave of optimism and PR to sift through for storylines.
Let’s point and laugh at the ridiculousness of recent history. Like a sandwich shop before a truck came crashing through the window, the quaint hopes of SoxFest 2013 look awfully silly already.
Note: none of these beat writers are being picked on. They were reporting the compelling storylines of the time. Baseball is just variable and fast-changing and all moments of true understanding are fleeting.
"“I think you can walk around to every pitcher today, and we’re all excited to have Tyler back there for us. We know what he’s capable of, and he’s going to do it for us.”"
What Tyler did back there included allowing more passed balls in 84 games than 10 major league teams allowed all season.
Management was already pulling away from any promises by late-January, but John Danks was still openly gunning to be on the Opening Day roster.
"“Health-wise, I should be ready by then,” said Danks, “I’m going to be disappointed if I’m not ready by then. I feel like I’ll be ready before then, but at the end of the day it’s Robin Ventura, Rick Hahn, and Kenny Williams’s call.”"
He would wind up sitting on the DL until May 24 and spent all season searching for velocity and a cutter worth throwing. Now, the optimistic bent is that 2013 was always going to be a grind for Danks, and that the real measure of his recovery will be 2014.
Alexei Ramirez came to SoxFest determined and focused to bounce back from the worst offensive season of his career. Despite racking up a respectable RBI total, Ramirez lamented all that could have been done in 2012. Previously a man of few words, it was nice to hear Ramirez pushing himself.
"“’I do feel that I could have done more last year and I’m preparing myself really hard for this coming year,’ Ramirez said through an interpreter.Once rest improved the sore wrist, Ramirez hit his winter workouts with abandon. Clearly there is an edge about him now.”"
Not long after, Ramirez would be stuck in his most error-prone season yet, playing with a heavy heart after the sudden death of his father-in-law. Ramirez’s story is the truth for so many pre-season proclamations. Everyone has the best laid plans, and then the season comes and kicks them in the ass.
Only misery and woe awaits the reporters forced to interview busted prospects floating around at the end of the 40-man roster. Brent Morel did get back on the MLB roster for a bit in 2013, but probably ended the year farther away from the bigs than before. Mitchell’s strikeout problems somehow got worse, and he very literally went backwards in minor league levels.
No SoxFest story ages better than one with a Konerko interview, as he just catalogs his concerns and vague ambitions while mentally preparing himself for a six-month grind.
"“The main thing is going out this year and doing it right … Helping this team out, that’s what the job description is.”"
All the quotes could be swapped into this year’s SoxFest, except the part about being uncertain if the team would want him back at the end of the season. To be fair, that kind of threw us all for a loop as well.
Well, at least this worked out.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan