Telling White Sox fans to chill after bad start is an exercise in futility

SHARE Telling White Sox fans to chill after bad start is an exercise in futility
SHARE Telling White Sox fans to chill after bad start is an exercise in futility

You wouldn’t think it would be sunny outside while the sky is falling. But here we are, a few hours before the White Sox’ home opener on Friday afternoon, and a poet might describe the sky as cerulean or azure. Or whatever rhymes with “really, really blue.’’

The Sox come into their home opener with a three-game losing streak to start the season. You might have heard that news, in the way you might hear the person next to you screaming, “The house is on fire, the doors are locked from the outside and we’re all going to die!’’

Sometimes I think Sox fans and Blackhawks fans are the same people, a panicked group regardless of the season or the circumstance. No matter how good the Hawks are, no matter how many Stanley Cups they have won in the past five years (that would be two), one middling stretch of struggles can send their fans into convulsions.

I’m obviously generalizing here, but given a choice between doom and gloom, Sox fans usually will go with C) despondency.

I don’t know how this season is going to turn out for the White Sox, but I feel safe in saying that a rough start is not the end of the world. Or as Sox general manager Rick Hahn puts it, “You’ve got to go all the way back to 2014 to find the last playoff team that started 0-3.’’

We Americans don’t have time for patience in a digital age. Sox fans were no more forgiving 30 years ago, but they couldn’t take to Twitter and feed off the angst of their fellow handwringers.

Asked when he learned patience, manager Robin Ventura points to the 0-for-41 slump he went through his rookie season with the Sox. Then he thanked me, wryly, for bringing up the memory.

“You learn perseverance and patience and stubbornness,’’ he says. “I was given patience. There was a certain level to it. (But) there’s only so far you can go with it. I mean, there is patience, and then there comes a time when there’s no more patience.

“I think three games into the season, for me, there’s still patience.’’

When does that run out?

“It will happen,’’ Ventura says. “It’s not today.’’

The Sox are struggling against the 0-3 Twins. A wild pitch by starter Hector Noesi in the fifth inning gives Minnesota a 2-0 lead, and the boos from the crowd of 38,533 at The Cell grow louder. Ventura gets him after 110 pitches, six walks and two wild pitches. More boos, quite possibly for everyone involved.

Adam LaRoche flies out to end the seventh and gets his first “You suck!’’ from the stands, though it could have been left over from Adam Dunn.

The Sox lose 6-0 to fall to 0-4. All over the South Side, family pets know to avoid eye contact with their owners.

“It’s not ultra-frustrating,’’ infielder Gordon Beckham says. “Obviously, we’d like to start out a lot better, but we have a good team. That stuff is going to come out sooner or later. It just hasn’t started very well for us. But there’s a lot of good on this team.’’

Hahn had a great offseason, acquiring Jeff Samardzija and signing Melky Cabrera, David Robertson and LaRoche. It seems a little early for full-scale panic, but these are Sox fans.

Wait, it’s not the fans?

“I haven’t seen any anxiety, to be honest with you, on Twitter and social media,’’ centerfielder Adam Eaton said before the game. “Everyone’s pretty upbeat about it. No one’s off the bandwagon. Three games, guys. Just calm down, everybody. Just calm down.

“I think I feel it from you (media members) more than I feel it from the fans.’’

He might want to turn on the radio. I love listening to Chris Rongey after Sox games, though particularly after Sox losses. He’s the postgame host on WSCR-AM, and sometimes it sounds as if it’s all he can do to remain sane in the face of wave after wave of anger and clinical fretfulness from fans. He’s the voice of reason against unreasonable expectations and disproportionate dread. In short, the man is on the road to sainthood.

Even in 2005, when the Sox won 99 games in the regular season and 11 of 12 playoff games to win the World Series, the feeling that disaster lurked nearby was never far away. This season is the 10th anniversary of that accomplishment, and the Sox really should think about commissioning a work of art to honor their loyal fans.

I’d recommend “The Scream’’ painting by Edvard Munch.


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