God bless the White Sox.
They postponed Thursday’s home opener because of the threat of crappy weather, which isn’t a technical meteorological term but should be. The forecast calls for rain, a high of 44 and winds out of the east-northeast at 14 mph.
The Sox could have taken two well-worn baseball paths with the weather issue. They could have played the game Thursday, ensuring a miserable experience for everyone involved. Or they could have delayed the game, allowed people to buy beer for a few hours and then postponed it, ensuring that their fans would have wished unspeakable things to be visited upon Sox management.
Instead, the team saw what everyone else saw: that baseball in April in the Midwest is a lot like ice fishing but without the shanty.
So … good on the Sox for making the right decision. The opener will be played Friday, with sun and temperatures in the low 50s being forecast for the 1:10 p.m. first pitch.
Instead of rain gear, fans are again being asked to bring patience for the team’s rebuild. That’s asking a lot. I’m not saying that Sox fans should be impatient with the team right now. That wouldn’t be fair. At midseason, perhaps. But not now.
It is fair to ask that the Sox offer something in return for what they’ve put their fan base through. All they’ve given fans to date the last few years has been hope. It’s always good to hope. But hope isn’t a sport in itself.
What’s missing and what has been missing for the Sox for years is baseball excitement. Real excitement. It’s time to start seeing plays that make you stop in your tracks. It’s at least time for the possibility of seeing something you haven’t seen before. It’s time for experiences that bring warmth to your frozen fingers. We’ve been expecting the expected with the Sox for what feels like eons, or at least since they dealt the always-exciting Chris Sale to the Red Sox. Since then, really, nothing.
I’m not talking about anything crazy here, nothing like a late-season playoff push. I’m talking about a team and its players doing extraordinary things once in a while. I’m desperate for some foreshadowing.
Jose Abreu, as good as he is, is as consistent (mostly) and exciting as a wristwatch. Just as there was no there there in Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, there’s no there with the Sox yet. There’s not an identity yet. There hasn’t been a definitive turning of the corner. I think it’s coming, but it hasn’t arrived.
We’ve seen some early glimpses. Lucas Giolito threw 7 1/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Royals on Sunday, showing off the talent that led the Nationals to use a first-round pick on him in 2012. Yoan Moncada, who struggled last year in his first full season as a starter, has been the Sox’ best hitter so far.
Carlos Rodon struck out nine and didn’t give up an earned run in six innings against the Indians on Wednesday, dropping his ERA to 1.59. More of that, please.
Sox fans aren’t asking for the world right now. They want to see progress, and there has been some of that. If we’re going to overreact to the Cubs’ poor start, it seems only fair to overreact to some good things the Sox have done so far.
But Friday affords the first opportunity to see, in person at Guaranteed Rate Field, what all the fuss has been about. As they inch into the third year of the rebuild, where are the Sox? What are they? Will fans get an early look at it Friday against the hot Mariners? Will there be a moment where they realize, pleasantly that, oh, so that’s how this is going to be? An epiphany?
The long-term forecast for the Sox appears to call for sunny skies, with a warm front of young talent poised to stall over the Chicago area. We heard the same forecast for several years as the team went about losing, amassing draft picks, trading veterans and boasting one of the top farm systems in baseball.
We need to start to see the sun from the Sox this season. Eloy Jimenez, who came to the Sox in the trade that sent Jose Quintana to the Cubs, has struggled early. But to see flashes of his talent would be enough for now. He hit an opposite-field single Wednesday that was pretty. That’ll do. We need to see good things from pitcher Dylan Cease, whenever the Sox deem him worthy of a promotion to the big leagues. Same with 2018 first-round pick Nick Madrigal, whenever he comes up.
Moments. That’s not asking much. One moment builds on another until they become a regular thing. That’s when you know you have a team. That’s when there doesn’t seem to be a cloud in the sky.