White Sox: A Team Lost In the Shadows
The White Sox have always been lost in the shadows. It can be frustrating as a fan, but perhaps the tide will be changing soon
The Chicago White Sox are known as Chicago’s second team. The commercial success of the Cubs has forced the White Sox down even further than before. The White Sox have talented players who are hitting their breakout years. Still, there is no question national media like ESPN or MLB Network would rather report on what happened on Addison Street rather than what happened on the corner of 35th and Shields.
White Sox fans know better than anyone when it comes to baseball on the south side of Chicago, national media does not seem to care. Especially when it comes to remembering the team’s 2005 World Series run.
Just to name a few examples: when comparing title’s the cities Chicago and Cleveland have won, before the 2016 World Series featuring the Cubs and Indians, ESPN forgot to add the White Sox.
The morning of the first game the Cubs would host in that series, CBS tweeted how the city of Chicago was preparing for a World Series game for the first time in 71 years, again forgetting 2005 when the White Sox only hosted two games (because they won in four games). ESPN forgot how the White Sox hold the best record in the playoffs when they went 11-1 in 2005.
Heck, even Jeopardy left out the White Sox in a round concerning Chicago sports. It is frustrating, no question. But it is especially frustrating to see a Sox All-Star only grow in popularity the second he departs from the team.
When Chris Sale came onto the scene in 2010, he was a reliever, and sometimes a closer. He did not start his first game until 2012. That year he finished with 192 innings pitched, 121 innings more than his career most at the time which came the previous year.
In 2012, Sale earned his first All-Star appearance and finished sixth in Cy Young voting. He had consistently steady numbers until 2015 when he recorded the most strikeouts by a White Sox pitcher in a single season at 274. He led MLB with that number. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting and at that point went to his fourth All-Star game in a row.
Before the 2017 season, he had a career ERA of 3.00 with 1244 strikeouts. Snubbed from multiple Cy Young awards, few outside of Chicago never heard of him. Then the White Sox tore the house down and dealt him to one of the biggest markets in baseball: Boston.
There, Sale had every pair of eyes in the baseball world on him and he became placed alongside Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw as one of the best pitchers in the game. What many fail to realize is that Sale had the same if not better numbers in Chicago compared to Boston and that he always had the skill to be named next to those above. The shackles that come with playing on the White Sox held Sale back from becoming a household name sooner.
It was hard but White Sox fans grieved and finally moved on from the departure of Sale. Thanks, in part, to the absolute dominance Lucas Giolito has displayed so far this season. First to 10 wins, third lowest ERA at 2.22, sixth lowest WHIP at 0.95, and AL May pitcher of the month, he has proved this season to be his breakout year.
From the worst ERA amongst qualified pitchers at 6.13 last season, Giolito changed his narrative in less than a year. Not only is he performing as the best pitcher in Chicago, but he is being considered to start at the All-Star game in about a month. This kind of turnaround could grant Giolito the Comeback Player of the Year Award and potentially the Cy Young Award. He is only 24 and his career is just getting started.
So why did the Chicago Tribune decided to give the feature story about Yu Darvish’s return to a team he played one year with two years ago and give Giolito’s fantastic performance against the Yankees Friday as a small column to the left of Darvish’s full-page cut-out picture?
Compared to the Cubs, the White Sox have always gotten the short end of the stick in terms of media coverage. But maybe all of that is about to change.
In the midst of their World Series run, the Cubs needed a solid number two starting pitcher. The White Sox were simultaneously clearing house. Having already dealt Sale, José Quintana was the only trade piece to give.
The desperate Cubs gave the White Sox their second and fourth overall top prospects, who were both in the MLB Top 100. Plus two additional prospects, the Cubs gave up more than they received. Yes, it helped them win a World Series, but Quintana has struggled to keep his ERA under 4 in the past two years.
Today, Eloy Jiménez, one of the four in the trade, will play at Wrigley Field against his previous organization for the first time. No question the media will cover this debut, but the question will be exactly how do they cover it. Will it be about Jiménez and the future of the White Sox, or how he helped the Cubs win two years ago?
Sox fans have always cheered in the silence. Even when the team was on top of the world, no one noticed. Some find it frustrating and disturbing, but others see the lack of attention as a blessing. It is hard to be underestimated when one is consistently in the limelight, and it is easier to rise if one is underestimated. The media and other teams will not give their attention to the White Sox and underestimate the team. Then bam, the highest market team in the league loses to a mediocre team 10-2.