Time For White Sox Fans To Be Positive This Season

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 21: Carson Fulmer #51 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning in game two of a doubleheader on August 21, 2017 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 21: Carson Fulmer #51 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning in game two of a doubleheader on August 21, 2017 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

White Sox fans will need to exercise patience with pitching prospect who had to battle for fifth starter spot during spring training.

The Athletic this week lent credence to a topic I blogged – er, contributed – about three months ago in the article White Sox are willing to be patient with Carson Fulmer, less so with all the ‘negative crap’.

The article is spot on, revealing Sox pitching coach Don Cooper ‘s contempt for harsh fan criticism of 2015 first round draft choice Carson Fulmer. I have been wondering if or when the team might start supplying some air cover for their beleaguered young pitcher. Fulmer has taken more fan heat than any rookie or top draft choice I have ever seen. Unjustifiably so. Why?

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In my post, Carson Fulmer May Surprise White Sox Fans in 2018, I pointed out that he may be collateral damage to fan enthusiasm generated by the rebuild. The slew of young prospects who came to the team with pedigree bolstered by the value suggested through the acquisitions themselves seemed more attractive than the legacy prospects already with the team. In the corporate world, it’s well known there is a big difference in how management views inherited versus chosen resources.

In a word, Fulmer became one of these inherited resources with the rebuild. Fans wanted GiolitoLopez (they’re Siamese twins, right?). Fans clamored for 105-mph Man (we might as well adorn him with a cape and call him that). Eloy Jimenez is the next Babe Ruth and is always smiling and just so likable! Can’t he have his team picture taken with one of those baby blankets and a toy bat?

Fans clamored for any number of easy to grasp labels and positionings of the new crop that so wonderfully represented instant assets and a new level of talent the team could not have possibly possessed before.

Well, I got news. Fulmer – along with Alec Hansen, Micker Adolfo, Eddy Alvarez, Spencer Adams, Jordan Guerrero, Jameson Fisher… and one could just as well throw in Matt Davidson, Tim Anderson, Aaron Bummer, Gregory Infante, Brad Goldberg, (sssh – and Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Jake Peter) and so on were all her before the reorg.

GASP! What? What the hell is does that mean, “before the reorg”?

In a world of short attention spans, it might surprise some people that this is indeed true – there was a team and some dynamic young talent, even front office skill and scouting/development acumen, before the words “mired in mediocrity” hit the Internets. Seems long ago, doesn’t it. It must seem like ages to the young players I just referenced, especially Fulmer.

Coop doesn’t need to get too twisted up. All that’s going on is the social media effect of our current society. Everyone is mad about something, and everyone is in someone else’s face about something – even it if it’s about someone being in their face. How we got so angry and shortsighted I don’t know.

What I do know is when I first started contributing to Southside Showdown, I noticed when I referred to baseball players from different eras that some readers had no idea who I was referring to. This is when I realized a large part of the consuming audience out there was significantly younger than me.

Younger fans can sometimes see the world in black and white absolutes and less so in the nuanced shades that age and perspective reveal. When I spent several years marketing video games, including sports games, I was always aware the young video “gamers” had only two assessments for any product: it was either awesome or it sucked. No in-between whatsoever.

Mount Rainier is awesome. Leeches suck. Video games do neither. Same goes for Fulmer – or any player for that matter.

Coop is older, too. He has perspective and understands nuance. He also understands pitching far better than any of us fans and knows how to recognize unseen talent potential beyond current visible results. Fans don’t. If they did, they’d have jobs like him.

I wrote my post to not only influence Sox Fans to expand their perspective a bit when thinking about Fulmer but also to hopefully slip in a little encouragement to him directly. He pitched very well last season as a 24-year-old. The worst thing that could happen is he starts to press too much and make mistakes or worse yet become discouraged. As a fan, I felt obligated. As a contributor, I felt empowered.

I think Coop might be doing the same thing. Spring Training is intended for players to prepare for the regular season. Failed results don’t mean a thing in the spring. It’s practice. Fulmer shut down his opposition in his final start as he pitched four hitless innings on March 19. Hitters couldn’t catch up to his fastball. He learned it and we saw it. Instead, he relied less on the curveball and ramped up the heater. This is what spring is about…and why it doesn’t matter.

Next: Lucas Giolito's Confidence Growing With White Sox

Chicago can be a tough town. The sooner fans chill out and exhibit more patience and support, the better this rebuild will turnout and the culture evolves to a more supportive fan framework. Let’s hope it’s awesome and doesn’t suck.