Way back among the first posts of the Sox Machine relaunch, I took up Sam Miller’s concept of reducing every season to a single memory and applied it to the White Sox.
I won’t go over the whole list, which went back to the start of the millennium, but after lots of thought and more discussion, I felt comfortable with these conclusions for the previous eight seasons.
- 2009: The Year That … Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game
- 2010: … Jim Thome crushed the White Sox to Hell.
- 2011: … Ozzie Guillen lost his power play against Kenny Williams.
- 2012: … Robin Ventura was exposed.
- 2013: … Gordon Beckham crashed into Conor Gillaspie.
- 2014: … Jose Abreu set the rookie home run record.
- 2015: … the White Sox won the winter, and nothing else.
- 2016: … Chris Sale cut up the jerseys.
I wanted to give 2017 some time to gestate before deciding on one, but with a year to think about it and a review of the comments, it seems fairly safe to add this one to the list:
- 2017: The Year That … The White Sox traded everyone.
If you’re a stickler and say Chris Sale and Adam Eaton don’t count since they were traded in December 2016, there’s still Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak and Dan Jennings. But I’m comfortable with saying the ramifications of the Sale and Eaton trades weren’t fully realized until they didn’t show up at SoxFest or spring training in 2017.
As for 2018, it’s going to require some distance before coming up with anything definitive, but I have two leading candidates, and the course of the 2019 season will determine which one stands taller. As always, feel free to contribute your own and argue mine into the ground.
Best-case scenario: 2018 was The Year That the White Sox hit rock bottom.
The White Sox hadn’t lost 100 games since 1970, so going 62-100 is noteworthy in and of itself. But it wasn’t just a number (or two numbers, for the aforementioned sticklers). These White Sox were worse than the 63-99 White Sox that shocked everybody with their ugliness five years earlier and triggered the first rebuild.
This one will stand on its own if the White Sox return to respectability in 2019. Maybe they sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, or maybe they rally solely on improvements from Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Eloy Jimenez, but even a 73-win season will give the White Sox some distance from all the discussions about tanking and draft position.
Worst-case scenario: 2018 was The Year That Michael Kopech got hurt.
However, if the 2019 White Sox go, say, 65-97, the White Sox will still be bouncing along the league’s floor, even if there continue to be two or three worse teams in that particular season. It’s hard to imagine a 90-loss team including meaningful contributions from the guys the Sox need to win sooner than later, so the rebuild is still going to feel awful.
If losses alone fail to truly set the 2018 White Sox apart from the surrounding seasons, then maybe Kopech’s stunted arrival and swift departure sum up the season better than anything else. Every attempt at a honest-to-goodness Kopech Day was ruined by rain delays before a torn ulnar collateral ligament cut his season short, proving that White Sox fans would not be allowed to enjoy any aspect of the 2018 season.
This argument might become stronger if Kopech’s recovery from Tommy John surgery resembles Zack Burdi’s, but that’s dour for another day, which at this time means another year.