For some reason, in the days, hours and even minutes leading up the the first pitch of the 2020 White Sox season, I couldn't stop thinking about a bunch of heartbreaking losses, embarrassing moments and overall frustration White Sox fans have faced over the last several years.
Streaming minor league games, enduring blowout losses, and hearing the *questionable* logic from the front office behind keeping MLB-ready prospects in small- to mid sized southern cities, instead of Chicago, can only last so long.
White Sox fans have been through it.
To be fair to the front office, their rebuilding intentions have been clear from the beginning.
You don't trade Chris Sale, with a team-friendly contract, unless you have a plan. Those aren't my words, but the words of a team that has been telling White Sox fans this whole thing will work after each trade, signing, and quite frankly, losing season since they announced the rebuild.
All of those heartbreaking losses, embarrassing moments, and frustrations occurred in the last four seasons.
One of the hardest things to do in life is to live in the moment, because you can't live in the moment, while actively trying to live in the moment.
Or something like that, I don't know, I've only been meditating for the last few months.
The fact is, if you're a White Sox fan right now, reading this piece, first of all, OMG thank you, you're so sweet, but also I want you to realize that THIS is it.
What is "this"?
"This" is the lineup getting released earlier today and seeing names like Eloy Jiménez, Luis Robert, Yoán Moncada, Tim Anderson, and Yasmani Grandal included.
White Sox fans are a cynical bunch, and often justifiably so.
I don't know how the White Sox are going to perform in 60 games plus a strange new playoff format seemingly letting just about everyone in.
I do know, however, that the product you're seeing on the field, is the one this organization has wanted you to see since the beginning of the rebuild.
OK, maybe not the EXACT product, considering Nicky Delmonico started in right field (Sorry Nicky, it's not you, it's me!) Michael Kopech is sitting out this season, and Nick Madrigal is hanging out at Woodfield Mall right now instead of being the Opening Day second baseman.
But for the most part, this collection of players is the one you were suffering through all of losses, embarrassing moments and frustration for.
I'm not saying don't be cynical. You're a fan, PLEASE be cynical and sometimes, while rare, that cynicism can change organizational outlooks and decision making.
I often think about how, as a sports fan, I've endured FAR more heartbreak and frustration than, you know, the other possible feeling of ... joy.
It's hard to remember that, especially if you're a fan of a team that has been less than stellar (or many teams, as this reporter may or may not have experienced throughout his life).
You don't have to listen to me, I don't know any more than you do, especially if it's about math or science, but I do know that 2020 is going to show White Sox fans the product of a rebuild, nay, THIS rebuild, one way or another.
Will that product lead to multiple World Series championships?
I don't know, but I know a number of White Sox fans who would be good with consecutive above .500 seasons first.
You can't win or lose until you play, and the Sox started playing Friday night against the Minnesota Twins, and here's now that went down:
Max Kepler greeted Lucas Giolito and the 2020 White Sox with a first-pitch homer into the right-field bleachers.
Between wild pitches, and missed double-play opportunities, the first inning really made me wonder if this tweet had some validity, as the Sox were down 4-0 before we even saw Luis Robert's first at-bat in the major leagues.
Speaking of that first at-bat, Robert wasted no time earning his first major-league base hit, smoking a line drive into left field.
I know what you're thinking, "Sam, it's 2020, we can QUANTIFY a line drive, just how hard was it hit?" RELAX, I have that answer for you right here: Precisely 115.8 mph, and for you un-analytical types, that's really damn fast.
Just as #WhiteSoxTwitter was remembering how cruel the game of baseball can be, reconsidering their midsummer night plans for the rest of the season, Yoán Moncada demolished a José Berríos pitch to left field. Hit so hard in fact, it nearly took his helmet off while he swung. I don't have any deeper analytical numbers on that, I just feel like if you're helmet almost comes off during a swing, it's either really good or really bad, and in this case, the former.
Rough night out
Lucas Giolito entered this season with justifiably high expectations after breaking out last year and becoming the White Sox ace.
He struggled mightily in his 3 ⅔ innings, giving up six hits, two home runs, seven earned runs, and three walks to three strikeouts.
In the third inning, he looked a bit like last season's ace, producing some ugly swing-and-misses, but couldn't get out of the third, giving way to Evan Marshall.
"Tonight’s a night you throw right into the trash can," Giolito said postgame. "I command the fastball, it’s an entirely different game."
I personally wouldn't take too much stock early on this season with how the pitchers perform, as they generally take more time to ramp up than hitters do. That being said, it is a short season, so we'll see if Lucas can return to form next week against Cleveland.
Nicky and Nick
When Nomar Mazara was signed in the offseason, it looked like Nicky Delmonico's days in White Sox starting lineups was just about over.
When Mazara started the season on the IL, that changed.
Delmonico struggled at the plate, going hitless in four at-bats, and stranding four. If justifying a roster spot had to do with being well-liked by teammates and fans, Delmonico would have a spot for life, but his performance tonight didn't help his cause in the more traditional way of staying on a major-league roster.
It wasn't surprising news, but when it was officially announced that Nick Madrigal wouldn't start the season with the big league club, White Sox Twitter was not pleased.
Especially considering GM Rick Hahn's comments earlier in the week justifying the decision, saying that the Sox were a better team with Leury García starting the season in Chicago, and Madrigal in Schaumburg.
*COUGH SERVICE TIME MANIPULATION COUGH*
García's performance tonight won't quiet the ever-powerful White Sox Twitter. He struggled defensively and while not recording any official errors, never looked comfortable at the position.
The calls for Madrigal won't exactly get any quieter, but if my COUGHING suspicions are correct, it should only be about a week longer until the former fourth overall pick makes his debut.
Ross Detwiler pitched
That's all I have to say about that.
In a long and ugly affair, it might be easy to forget that Luis Robert, outside of one-bad looking swing to whiff on a high fastball, looked more than the part in his major-league debut. He finished with two hits in four tries, and they weren't cheap.
The White Sox are going to have no problem scoring runs this season. Even the five they scored tonight is generally an acceptable number to win a ballgame, but they also used eight pitchers and surrendered 10 runs.
It's early (as early as it can possibly be, in fact) but the defense looked tired and rusty.
The White Sox are 0-1 to start the weirdest season in MLB history. Assuming COVID-19 doesn't end the season early, they will play at least 59 more games this year, so I wouldn't panic just yet, at least not about the White Sox. There are plenty of other valid things to panic about, so feel free to panic about those things instead.
Dallas Keuchel makes his South Side debut tomorrow afternoon against Twins righty Randy Dobnak in game two of the three-game set.