White Sox: Don't be fooled by this recent surge of winning
By Joe Santoro
The Chicago White Sox are feeling good about themselves right now.
The roller-coaster White Sox, losers of 21 of their first 28 games, have now won 14 of their last 23 and are just 5.5 games out of first place in the American League Central.
The suddenly streaking Sox have sent the doom and gloom groundhogs scurrying back to their underground hideaways by winning seven of their last nine games.
The White Sox, thanks in large part to a pitching staff that has allowed just 21 runs over its last 11 games, have not lost two games in a row in two weeks. The team that couldn't win a single series the first month of the season has now won five of seven series this month.
Rumors of the White Sox's demise, it turns out, were a bit premature. The season is not over after all. Go figure.
The Chicago White Sox have been much better since May started.
What changed? The schedule.
The April schedule was filled with the likes of the Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, and Tampa Bay Rays.
The month of May has been far more Sox friendly with a healthy dose of the Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, and Cleveland Guardians.
The Sox were swimming with sharks in April and were eaten alive. Nobody returned to shore with all of their limbs. In May the Sox have been frolicking with dolphins and goldfish. The Sox aren't necessarily swimming any better. It's just easier when you don't have to go in the water with a harpoon.
The good news is that the schedule will remain Sox-friendly for the next 10 games. If all goes well in seven games against the Detroit Tigers and three against the Los Angeles Angels the Sox could find themselves within sniffing distance of first place and a .500 record.
The social media groundhogs, if all goes well, won't be peeking their heads out of their holes for at least another 10 days or so. Seven or eight wins over the next 10 games, leaving the White Sox at, say, 29-32 and just two or three games out of first place is a distinct possibility.
But it would mean almost nothing. Yes, of course, it would convince general manager Rick Hahn, the White Sox's Evil Queen, that he is, in fact, the fairest general manager in all the land and all his critics are wrong.
But all that would be is yet another White Sox fairytale.
Hahn will then do what he does best. He will stay the course because, after all, he designed the course in the first place.
He will then go out and get the 2023 version of Jake Diekman and Cesar Hernandez at the trade deadline and the Sox will finish 10 games or so out of first place by season's end.
And then we will do it all over again next year.
It's the White Sox fairytale on a never-ending loop. As long as Hahn's mirror on the wall (or a text from Jerry Reinsdorf) tells him he is the fairest one of all, nothing will change. Nothing meaningful will change if the Sox are indeed a couple of games out of first place after the next 10 days.
The next 10 days, after seven games against the Tigers and three against the Angels, will not shape this season (unless, of course, they lose seven or eight of those 10 games).
The Sox, the social media groundhogs know, are still going to face four long, hard months of winter (June-September) after those 10 games.
The skies will start getting cloudy and the temperatures will plummet starting June 6 when the White Sox open a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
The White Sox will play 40 games from June 6 through July 23, a stretch that will likely bury this team for good and crack Hahn's White Sox mirror.
Those 40 games include 30 against the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, and Boston Red Sox.
Actually reaching .500 will be the biggest White Sox fairytale of all this year.
Can the White Sox win enough of those 40 games with Jake Burger and Gavin Sheets striking out three or four times combined a game? How about Tim Anderson getting picked off a base or throwing a ball into the dugout twice a week?
How does a second base rotation of Elvis Andrus, Hanser Alberto, and Romy Gonzalez sound? Clint Frazier, this year's Adam Engel, looks like he might find a home in right field, you know when Sheets isn't out there turning singles into triples.
Is that going to be enough to win the Central?
Can the Sox win enough of those 40 games to stay in the Central race with Andrew Benintendi, Anderson, and Yoan Moncada combining for two homers over their next 391 at-bats like they have so far this year?
What if Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert Jr., and Moncada continue their merry-go-round trips to the injured list?
The White Sox's poorly constructed roster didn't fix all of its problems by winning seven-of-nine games against Cleveland and Kansas City. Rick Hahn, of course, will try to convince us that it did by doing absolutely nothing meaningful to fortify the roster.
The Charlotte Knights, after all, are the only team that will trade with him because, after all, they have to.
The rebuild is not a complete mess, as some of the social media groundhogs will tell you. But it's not good enough to win championships. That's what that 7-21 start told us once and for all.
Here's hoping Hahn never forgets that 7-21 start. This recent 14-9 spurt against the likes of the Reds, Guardians, and Royals does nothing but perpetuate all the lies Hahn has been selling us for the last six or seven years.
We will, of course, admit that fairy tales sometimes do come true.
Anderson, after all, could remember that he is not, in fact, a .244 hitter. Michael Kopech might not allow another run the rest of the season. Liam Hendriks might hit the ground running when he returns as the closer.
Benintendi could actually hit a home run or two and justify some of the $75 million he's going to earn over the next five years. Robert might not pull a muscle every two weeks. Andrew Vaughn might get his average over .250. Yoan Moncada might even get to double digits in RBI sometime soon.
It can all happen. Even groundhogs can think good thoughts now and then.
Want some more positive thoughts? The Sox might not even have to get to .500 to win this awful division.
The Central, in case you haven't noticed, is the worst division in baseball by far. It consists of five of the six worst teams in the American League along with the Oakland Athletics.
The American League Central right now is the Island of Misfit Toys. It's an island of broken flip phones, hula hoops, AM radios, and VCRs. The Sox on their good days are something along the lines of a flip phone whose battery needs charging every three hours.
Feel better? Well, we'll fix that. Just remember the White Sox still have the third worst record in all of baseball. And that is after winning 14 of the last 23. Suddenly those seven wins in nine games against the Royals and Guardians don't sound so great, do they?
The Sox problems haven't been fixed. They've just been covered up by some cheap Royals and Guardian's paint.
That paint, of course, will start to fade or chip away. June 6 is not that far off. Those White Sox shortcomings you see in the mirror, after all, are always closer than they appear.