The Chicago White Sox have been a Major League Baseball franchise for 116 years which has been highlighted by them with them winning the World Series three times with the most recent occasion coming in 2005. The White Sox have a rich baseball history which includes Baseball Hall of Famers such as Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas, and Luke Appling suiting up for the Pale Hose. The Sox play in the second largest media market in the United States, but at times it feels like they are playing in Des Moines, Iowa due to the lack of respect that they sometimes receive within their own city which is the result of the love affair that people have with the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs are in their 141th season as a baseball franchise and over time they have developed the reputation of being the loveable losers of Major League Baseball. The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 while they’ve failed to appear in the Fall Classic since 1945. Over the years the Cubs have dealt with tough collapses which included blowing the divisional lead in the National League East in 1969 late in the season to the New York Mets, losing to the San Diego Padres in the 1984 National League Championship Series to the San Diego Padres after winning the first two games, and of course failing to advance to the World Series after winning three of the first four games in the NLCS versus the Florida Marlins in 2003. But after making the NLCS last year with one of the youngest teams in baseball, the Cubs have been the talk of the town and they have picked up right where they left off from last year as their record of 17-6 in 2016 is the best in the Major League Baseball. But the White Sox have managed to keep up with the Cubs and there aren’t that many people that are talking about it.
After three consecutive losing seasons which included a last place finish in 2013, the White Sox have rebounded this year. Through 26 games, the White Sox have a record of 18-8, and for the first time since 2012, they are 10 games over .500 as they are seeking their first trip to the postseason since 2008 while there is a murmur of title talk coming from the South Side of Chicago.
Robin Ventura is in his fifth season as the White Sox manager where he has seen his fair share of ups and downs. In 2012, Ventura led an overachieving White Sox team to 85 wins and they missed out on winning the American League Central by three games. But since then the White Sox have been in rebuilding mode as they lost 99 games in 2013 for their worst finish since 1976. The Sox posted losing seasons in each of the last two seasons, but the team’s president of baseball operations Kenny Williams, and general manager Rick Hahn have been patient with Ventura while also giving him more talent to work with.
In 2013, first baseman Jose Abreu defected from his native Cuba. The White Sox would then sign him to a six-year contract that is worth $68 million. As a rookie for the White Sox in 2014, Abreu batted .317 with 36 home runs and 107 runs batted in to become the first player for the Pale Hose to be named the American League’s Rookie of the Year since Ozzie Guillen in 1985.
After the 2013 Major League Baseball season, the White Sox signed relief pitcher David Robertson. In Robertson’s first season with the Sox, he saved 34 games which is tied with four other pitchers for the eighth most saves in a single-season for the franchise. And this season Robertson has picked up right where he left off as in 2016, he has already saved 8 games.
Aside from Abreu and Robertson, the White Sox also have starting pitcher Chris Sale who is a four-time American League All-Star. But this trio alone wasn’t enough to turn the White Sox into a contender.
Over the winter Hahn and Williams made a splash when they acquired third baseman Todd Frazier in a three-time deal with the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. Frazier came to Chicago after belting 35 homers last year for the Reds and he is expected to provide some protection in the White Sox lineup for Abreu. And after a slow start here in 2016, Frazier is currently leading the White Sox in home runs (7), and runs batted in (17). Aside from getting Frazier this past winter, the Sox also acquired a pair of veteran infielders in second baseman Brett Lawrie and shortstop Jimmy Rolins who’s presence alone in the locker room has changed things on the South Side.
The White Sox have won 10 out of their last 13 games and they’ve only lost one series all season long which is a far cry from last year at this point when they were just 10-16. But the start by the Sox in 2016 shouldn’t be overlooked as this if for real.
Sale is 6-0 this season with an earned run average of 1.66 as the Sox are finally giving him run support. Sale is also getting protection behind in Chicago’s starting rotation as starting pitchers Mat Latos and Jose Quintana have already combined to win 7 games while Ventura can hand the ball to a light’s out closer for the ninth inning in the form of Robertson. Abreu and Frazier are each going to heat up as the weather improves while Ventura is getting contributions up and down his lineup from the likes of outfielders Melky Cabrera and Adam Eaton. But you might not know about this due to the love affair with the Cubs.
Even when the White Sox won the World Series in 2005, they were not celebrated as much as they should have been being that they hadn’t won it all since 1917, as the majority of the attention immediately shifted to the Cubs as people were looking to see them end their drought. But the 2005 White Sox were a team that didn’t have a problem flying under the radar, and so far the same can be said about the current South Siders.
Last month the White Sox embarked on a six-game winning streak which saw them sweep a pair of postseason teams from last October in the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays as they are showing that they are here to stay, while they also managed to split a grueling four-game series this past weekend against the Baltimore Orioles who are currently in first place in the American League East. The White Sox are showing that they are going to hang around all season long in the AL Central, and they have a very solid chance to be playing come October.
The Cubs are good, but they alone shouldn’t be the main baseball focus in the Windy City as the boys from the South Side of Chicago are legit.