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For White Sox, 2017 was year of ‘Who’s Next?’

Rumor-centric news cycle figures to fade in 2018, leaving attention up for grabs

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

I typically don’t look at the list of most-read stories because I know I’m not going to like what I see.

Last year was an aberration because White Sox Business generated White Sox news that didn’t have to involve other teams to be inherently fascinating to all comers. It wasn’t the good kind of fascinating, as Rick Hahn admitted to Jon Greenberg:

The non-baseball media coverage of the LaRoche situation was probably the depth to which we do not want to sink ever again.

For the White Sox, sure. For people like me who think about the White Sox out loud?

I’ll defend my right to consider the #content in this case, because 2016’s subsequent list is full of stories that were newsworthy and required some thought and/or time to put together.

  1. Larry’s evisceration of the Adam LaRoche situation
  2. Chris Sale cutting up the jerseys
  3. The Cubs making major media outlets forget the White Sox exist*
  4. The impending approach of John Danks’ DFA
  5. My reaction to L’Affaire LaRoche before Adam Eaton called a 14-year-old a leader

(*2005 Happened t-shirts are 20 percent off with the promo code YEAREND20, by the way.)

Smash-cut to the end of 2017, and the most-read story of the past year was ... an October review of the Tommy Kahnle trade. That took some time to put together and cleared the 2,000-word mark, so it’s kind of a triumph. On the other hand, an ephemeral March rumors post about Jose Quintana and the Yankees beat the post about Quintana’s actual trade to the Cubs.

Another example: The top 10 includes a pair of stories about the Shohei Ohtani pursuit, while similar posts about Luis Robert didn’t show up until the 35-45 range.

So I get what’s going on here. In short, rumors are good, and rumors involving major-market teams are even better (thanks, Manny Machado!). White Sox fans looked at their team in 2017 and wondered where their favorite players might go. Other teams’ fans looked at the White Sox for favorite players to scavenge. All the while, one of my favorite things to write ended in the 400’s, which is why I don’t spend too much time itemizing traffic.

2018 should turn the tide away from the most fervent rosterbation enthusiasts for the most part, because Avisail Garcia is the only natural candidate for refreshing MLB Trade Rumors in July. That could mean that next year’s top-10 list will be an entire season of All About Avi, which I started typing as a joke before realizing it might be closer to the truth before I put a period on the sentence.

Here’s where Hahn and I are back on the same page:

Now the hard part next is winning.

“I’m going to disagree with you. The hard part is right now, being patient and waiting for that chance to win. You’re right, all of this is futile and the most important stage is the next one where it’s time to win. But if we were to pull up the screen, which we're not going to do, the names on this board for this offseason aren’t nearly as exciting as some of the names on that board for the future. And that’s something where we are as organization, where we have to be aware, part of this patience and letting these guys develop.”

That’s the forecast for those of us in the #ResponsibleContent game, too. Assuming that rumors won’t rule the day, next year will be all about finding the line where small-sample reactions become overreactions, then minding that line. We got a taste of that in 2017 with second-half call-ups like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and even more so with Tim Anderson’s sophomore slump, even if the circumstances that contributed to his struggles aren’t likely to be duplicated, God willing.

Without the smoke or fire of potential trades, the White Sox are probably hoping the biggest stories of 2018 are well-deserved promotions and MLB debuts, because Rick Renteria will eventually be judged on his own merits and “more fun than expected” will inevitably slide into another form of “still not winning.” I’m here for writing those success stories, but I’m also here for the alternatives, because such is my existence.