The time has come for all those associated with the Chicago White Sox to shift focus.
We're talking about owner Jerry Reinsdorf, general manager Rick Hahn, the players, coaches, mascots, Jason Benetti and Steve Stone, the evil wizard who dreams up Sox Math questions, the media, and, most importantly, the fans.
Forget about a division title, the playoffs, or the World Series. When you start the season losing 21 of your first 28 games, well, you have a better chance of seeing gas for $2 a gallon this fall than you do the playoffs.
Those things (playoffs, division titles, World Series) are now in the past. You know, way back in February and March. The focus now, thanks to that 7-21 cloud that will likely never blow over until sometime around Thanksgiving, is the future.
Relax. Don't get nervous. We're not referring to the future four or five years down the road. That sort of timetable was OK for the start of the White Sox rebuild after the 2016 season. We've already been through that torture. Nobody could stomach that sort of patience again.
The Chicago White Sox need to focus on the future going forward.
The future we're talking about is now.
The rest of this season, 124 games starting Thursday night in Kansas City, is all about the 2024 season. The goal for the rest of the season should be 70 victories in those 125 games.
Those 70 victories wouldn't get the White Sox to the postseason this year. The American League Central is the worst division in baseball but an 83-win White Sox team as champion is sort of like hoping the Easter bunny leaves a Lexus in your basket.
It's not going to happen.
We've already put a pie-in-the-sky division title behind us, remember? So move on, you know, for your already fragile White Sox sanity. Focus on those 70 wins over the next 124 games.
Those 70 victories would have tremendous meaning for the White Sox.
It would mean that the rebuild is not yet a failure. It would restore hope to the franchise for 2024.
Yes, we are well aware that the White Sox's seven-year-old rebuild already has its tombstone carved and ready for placement in a cemetery near you. But hold off on that funeral for now.
There is still time to save this rebuild. And that time is now.
Help is on the way.
Over the next month or so the White Sox should return closer Liam Hendriks, third baseman Yoan Moncada, reliever Garrett Crochet, outfielder Eloy Jimenez, and Jake Burger to the roster.
Dylan Cease might rediscover his command. Tim Anderson will likely find his line-drive swing once again. Andrew Benintendi might begin to resemble a $75 million outfielder and not a 75-cent single-hitting Goodwill bargain bin find.
Who knows? Maybe Reynaldo Lopez and Joe Kelly will figure out how to put three good performances together. Maybe Aaron Bummer will not go the way of Jake Diekman after all and Gavin Sheets might even get a hit or two off a lefty.
The two Mikes, Kopech and Clevinger, might get out of their own heads long enough to realize their tremendous potential.
Yes, we understand it's a lot to ask. But that's all we have left for this season, right? Hope, health, happiness, and hype.
It's all possible. Maybe not likely. But it is possible. That's what the next 125 games will show us.
Notice we have yet to mention rookie manager Pedro Grifol. That's because we're still not sure he is actually managing the team. What has he done differently from Tony La Russa? Players are still getting hurt and underachieving and the team is forever stuck in mediocrity.
That looks like La Russa's handiwork, doesn't it? Grifol has yet to publicly rip one of his players for hitting a home run off a catcher on a 3-0 count. But he's done pretty much all of the same things La Russa did the last two years except, of course, prove he can win a division title or even half his games.
Nobody should expect Grifol to suddenly blossom into a difference maker over the next 125 games. There's a better chance of Cease remembering he finished second in the Cy Young voting last year than there is of Grifol turning into Al Lopez.
If the White Sox wanted a difference maker at manager, after all, they would have hired Bruce Bochy who has the Texas Rangers in first place right now. The Sox simply wanted a 75-cent Goodwill bargain bin manager who didn't have Jerry Reinsdorf's phone number on speed dial.
We're not saying all of the reinforcements expected to return to the roster over the next month or so will suddenly make the White Sox rebuild legitimate once again. Odds are Jimenez, Moncada, and Crochet will come back and get hurt three weeks later.
But we have to find out one last time. That's what these final 125 games are for.
How do you know the Sox rebuild won't finally start to bear championship fruit? Is it because it hasn't happened yet? Well, the Chicago Cubs' now legendary rebuild didn't work until the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series in 2016. And it hasn't worked since.
The White Sox owe it to themselves to play this rebuild out until the end of this season. Only fantasy baseball managers blow up their roster after a 7-21 start. This White Sox season, in case you haven't noticed, has not been anyone's idea of a fantasy.
You don't have to watch these final 125 games. Judging by recent crowds at Guaranteed Rate Field, most fans have already stopped watching.
But if you are a true White Sox fan and have already suffered through the first six-plus years of this rebuild, you owe it to yourself to keep paying attention.
What you might see might amaze you. Why not find out? Hey, it's just 125 games.
Nobody went to the theater to see the movie Titanic bought a ticket expecting to see the passengers arrive in New York with smiles on their faces, showered by a ticker tape parade and champagne.
That's what this White Sox season now boils down to, a search for little glasses of champagne in the midst of an unhappy ending.
The White Sox need to see this thing through the final 125 games of the year. Don't you think other teams are salivating at the thought of the White Sox giving away rebuild pieces such as Cease, Robert, Anderson, Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Kopech at the trade deadline this season?
That, despite the suggestion of social media fantasy baseball managers, is not going to happen. All the 7-21 start did to this White Sox rebuild is to prolong it.
Rebuilds, after all, have a mind of their own. They are not all created equal.
This rebuild deserves at least another 125-game trial before we light the dynamite and start over.