Harsh truth is that Cubs get all the love, flawed Sox come in 2nd
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Like a lot of things in White Sox history, it would have been a nice thing — if it had happened.
That is, it would have been nice if the Sox had won their season opener at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday afternoon, against the rival Cleveland Indians, in the midst of a pure-Chicago April snow shower.
The snow wasn’t overwhelming, and it wasn’t in the air for all of the Sox’ 7-1 loss. But it delayed the start of the game for 16 minutes, and it looked lovely — in a snow-globe way — when it periodically drifted down and melted on the bright green grass.
Yet the Sox couldn’t live up to the oddball charm of the weather, and the letdown was felt as much as seen.
Lefty pitcher John Danks was inconsistent and gave up five earned runs and eight hits in five innings. What else is new?
The light was there for the Sox to grab, what with their 3-1 start, the Cubs being out of town still and there being, as general manager Rick Hahn said pregame, “a very positive, focused vibe coming out of that clubhouse.”
Repressed Cubs fan Rahm Emanuel was in the house, acting as though he cared, and so was Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who looks a lot younger than his 80 years, and who actually does care. But none of that mattered because until the Cubs are killed off, dead-as-shoe-leather scrap, and tossed into the deepest part of Lake Michigan, the Sox cannot win in this town. They live in the shadow of a huge, inflatable Addison Street float that is part grinning clown head, part weeping saint and all trembling emotion.
The Sox can’t win in Chicago unless they’re almost perfect. Which is why it would have been nice to see them win this little opener in silly conditions, just a reward for the folks who gutted it out until Jerry Sands hit into a game-ending double play and the snow came down pretty hard for emphasis.
One other reason the Sox had a chance to leap ahead was the bummer injury to Cubs catcher/outfielder/slugger Kyle Schwarber, who is lost for the season after tearing ligaments in his left knee Thursday night. That took a couple pounds-per-square-inch out of the Cubs’ balloon.
Not that anyone on the Sox is gloating.
“I had heard he got hurt,” Sox catcher Alex Avila said after the opener. “But as a player, you can’t think about getting injured, or being afraid to get injured. You’re inviting a recipe to get injured if you do that. You just gotta play hard. Sometimes unfortunate things happen.”
Still, to lose a gritty catcher who had moved away from the action to the outfield is ironic.
“Usually, you move away from catcher to get a little more healthy,” Avila said.
What the Cubs do or don’t do should be irrelevant to the Sox. That the Cubs have — or had for a week, until the Schwarber incident — the Greatest Team Ever Assembled in Baseball History should mean nothing to the Sox.
But that’s not how the world works — not in Chicago, one of the few cities with two major-league teams and maybe the only one with such a stark dividing line between fans: North Side vs. South Side.
It’s hard not to like the makeup of this current Sox roster. The subtraction of some players and the addition of good-teammate vets such as Jimmy Rollins and Todd Frazier has to be an improvement over last year’s underachieving failures.
Now that the Adam LaRoche-child-fulfillment program has been terminated and feisty pitcher Chris Sale and occasionally overbearing president Ken Williams have reached detente, the Sox’ clubhouse can be all about winning.
The funny thing is, during the whole kids-at-work furor, nobody really got around to the fact that alleged power hitter LaRoche was a terrible acquisition for the Sox in 2015, didn’t look much better this spring and needed to be let go, and that the Sox really lucked out when he “quit,” or whatever it was, when he did. Saved them millions.
But in this Cubs-centric town, where a perennial loser can suck the air out of the bag just by appearing to have a chance at winning it all, the White Sox have to outwork everybody all the time.
It can be exhausting, but the truth sometimes is.
Follow me on Twitter @ricktelander.