When you think about it (and I advise against it), what happened to the White Sox is crazy. A team that had playoff aspirations before the season started fell to a season-high 18 games under . 500 Saturday.
You know what 18 games under .500 is? This is the kind of record a rebuilding team has. The Sox don't rebuild. Their salary is $130.2 million, the 11th highest in baseball. Their 0.410 win percentage is the lowest among the top 15 shoppers. Ten of those 15 teams have records above . 500.
You almost have to try to be as bad as the Sox. This cannot be stressed enough: the Sox are not trying to get this bad. They're not trying to get a higher draft pick. Their productive defeat is completely organic. Losing them is a living being, a being. This is a spontaneous fear.
So, yeah, crazy. Disgusting too. And, more than anything, it's so unacceptable that the Better Business Bureau should be brought in for a look. The gap between what it should be and what it is is so huge in 100 games a season that heads should have been rolling a long time ago. But this is the Sox, where the job of a lifetime is a reasonable and achievable goal.
First-year manager Pedro Grifol said he loved the “fighting we've shown, the at-bats when we lost.” The fight? What fight? You are 18 games under .500. Your opponent pops up for a fisticuff. Your team comes up with the idea that it's Rock, Paper, Scissors.
To be fair, Grifol has no shame in listing the Sox' shortfalls this season after losing 3-2 to Minnesota on Saturday, which puts them 18 games under the statistical definition of mediocrity. There's the usual suspect: Bad plate discipline. Mental deviation. All the bad team stuff. All the things the rebuilding team does.
The Sox were five seasons removed from a rebuild that would lead to what sports executives are calling “sustainable success.” All those losing rebuilds have resulted in high draft selection and talented players.
As far as I know, the high point of the post-rebuild era came when rookie Eloy Jimenez hit a home run in the ninth inning to help the Sox beat the Cubs in 2019. Jimenez, a former Cubs prospect, has come to the South Side along with pitcher Dylan Cease in a trade for pitcher Jose Quintana.
“Thank you Cubs!” Sox announcer Jason Benetti gushed after Jimenez's home run. His voice carries hope of all the good things to come for the Sox and heartache from a fan base that still believes the dice have been loaded in support of the Cubs since birth.
The Sox had two underwhelming postseason performances to show for then and that rebuild – a 2020 wild card series loss and a 2021 divisional series loss (after winning 93 games).
And now this.
Professional sports is an industry where executives are almost always fired for failing. The Sox and the Bulls (both owned by Jerry Reinsdorf) are the only two franchises in professional sports that don't fire executives for failure. There's no other franchise with a bigger gulf between what the fan base wants (fire everyone!) and what the owners want (more company picnics).
This is not about asshole fans or members of the media. It's about an owner who thinks he's George Bailey and his franchise is Building & Loans. 500 only twice in Rick Hahn's 11 years as general manager. Fire him, right?
Absolutely not, banker Jerry told the agitated Bedford Falls crowd:
You're thinking about this place wrong – as if I had my cash back in the safe. The money isn't here. Your money is at Rick Hahn's house, right next door to yours. And at Kenny Williams' house, as it was at John Paxson's, and hundreds of others. Why, you lend them money to build, and then, they pay it back to you as best they can. Now what are you going to do? Confiscate them?
In the strange world of Reinsdorf, the point is to surround yourself with loyal employees, whatever the outcome. For anyone who cares about the Chicago White Sox, it's a terrible life.
500 this season was after a 3-2 win over the Astros. On March 30. In the season opener.
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