So far this season, the White Sox have shed comparisons to their 2015 selves rather easily. Hopefully they're game for the next challenge on this quest, which is to keep excitement alive at home.
Last year, the White Sox botched two homestands at crucial times. In mid-May, they reached .500 with a 5-1 road trip through Milwaukee and Oakland, and their return was initially triumphant (the Chris Sale-Corey Kluber game). But the Sox went on to lose the next three to the Indians, then dropped a series to the Twins as well.
They found themselves in a similar situation at the end of July, when they swept the Indians and took three out of four in Boston to inch up to 49-51. In front of a weekend crowd against the Yankees -- all three games drew at least 30,000 -- the Sox were stomped in two of them. Carlos Rodon faltered in the opener, and Jeff Samardzija turned in the first of several awful August starts.
Twice already this season, the White Sox have returned home after a triumphant road trip, only to pull a Dick Van Dyke upon returning home.
Back on the home opener, the Indians were the ottoman. The Sox stumbled to a 7-1 loss after they took the opening series in Oakland. A week alter, the Sox came back from a 4-2 road trip, only to lose 7-0 to the Angels with Carlos Rodon on the mound.
At least they've succeeded at eliminating the aftertaste. After the shutout at the hands of Hector Santiago, the Sox ended up going 5-2 over those seven games at U.S. Cellular Field, which set up a 5-2 road trip through two tough AL East destinations. Now they'll get a third chance to get a homestand started right, and they'll likely have a larger crowd awaiting them:
#WhiteSox hot start apparently is catching on at the box office. Team has sold over 100,000 tickets in the last week.— Dan Hayes (@CSNHayes) May 2, 2016
That sounds like 100,000 over the rest of the schedule and not the homestand, so they're not going to be drawing an extra 17,000 per game all of a sudden. But that's OK -- this year's Sox are in still in their infant stages, so it's best for their socialization if you introduce them to new people gradually.
Oddly enough, they'll get a chance to forge their own path further against Steven Wright, who might've actually derailed the 2015 Sox' chances a day before they returned home. The knuckleballing funny man emerged from obscurity to outpitch Chris Sale in the finale in Fenway, and the White Sox were never that close to .500 again.
The opener isn't everything, as the Angels series showed. If Wright baffles them again, it won't be enough of a reason to say "SAME OLD WHITE SOX." They can go on to have a winning homestand and it'll all be effectively the same in the standings. I'm just rooting for them to have a storybook reintroduction to the South Side that allows the fun to seamlessly transfer from TV to their live shows.