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Race to the Bottom: Game 53

A new, occasional series tracing the 2018 club’s attempt to avoid becoming the worst White Sox team in history

Chicago White Sox v Cleveland Indians
Crushing: Cleveland’s Corey Kluber pushed the White Sox closer to a .300 winning percentage with a dominating six innings on Wednesday.
Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images
Brett Ballantini started at South Side Sox in 2018 after 20 years of writing on basketball, baseball and hockey, including time on the Blackhawks and White Sox beats. Follow him on Twitter @BrettBallantini and email your site feedback to

My neighbor has some nice birdhouses on his property. In one, there’s a woodpecker who has taken some form of residence within, modifying the house on a daily basis.

Every morning, he’s tapping away at the box. Late in the evening, cluck-cluck-cluck goes the dull thump of his beak against the wood.

He’s not able to move much, from inside the box, so his pecking comes slow, soft, almost drunken, but he keeps on plugging away, day after day.

Cluck-cluck-cluck. Thump-thump-thump.

It’s almost as if he’s trapped inside, not realizing he can exit right back through the entrance and escape the prison he’s made for himself.

Sort of like being a White Sox fan in 2018.

Here begins an occasional series tracing the 2018 team, as it attempts to avoid becoming the worst White Sox club in franchise history. At different junctures, we’ll take a snapshot of how this 2018 team shapes up against the very worst White Sox team ever (1948) and two other close “rivals” (1932 and 1970).

The returns through 53 games? Turn and cough.

2018 White Sox ⚾️ 16-37 ⚾️49-113 pace ⚾️ 5th (last) place, AL Central ⚾️ 12 12 GB

Leading the field of worst-ever White Sox clubs is the current incarnation, which lost in flaccid fashion at Cleveland this afternoon, 9-1. But for a ninth-inning Yolmer Sánchez solo shot, the game (and series sweep) would have ended as a 9-0 shutout. Reynaldo López failed to build on two terrific prior starts and was knocked out of the box in the third inning, recording a line score of 2 23 innings, eight hits, seven earned runs and a walk. His counterpart, Corey Kluber, spun six innings of shutout ball, with 10 strikeouts.

1948 White Sox ⚾️ 18-35 ⚾️ 55-107 pace ⚾️ 8th (last) place, AL ⚾️ 15 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 54-108

Ted Lyons managed this motley crew of White Sox, who would finish with the second-worst winning percentage in team history. On this day, however, spirits were high, as the 3-1 win in the first game of a doubleheader vs. the Boston Red Sox on June 20 would be the only victory for the team in a stretch of eight games. Bill Wight pitched a complete game against the 28-27 Carmines, giving up just six hits and one earned run (69 game score) against a lineup including Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky and Vern Stephens. The White Sox scored all they needed in the second inning, notching three runs courtesy of five singles and a walk.

1932 White Sox ⚾️ 19-34 ⚾️58-104 pace ⚾️ 7th (of 8) place, AL ⚾️ 18 12 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 53-109

In the middle of a 22-game homestand, the White Sox dropped an 11-inning heartbreaker, 5-4, to the lowly Red Sox — the only team in the American League worse (11-42) than Chicago! The June 14 game featured three Boston errors and two Red Sox picked off base, but the Carmines prevailed with a double-sacrifice bunt-sacrifice fly top of the 11th. Lyons was not just a Hall-of-Famer, but occupied two unique places in White Sox annals: manager of the awful 1948 White Sox, starter on the worst-ever 1932 edition. Lyons pitched an 11-inning complete game on this day, surrendering 14 hits and five earned runs, for a 50 game score. In the bottom of the 11th, the White Sox loaded the bases with two outs after a hit, error and intentional walk, but pinch-hitter Lew Fonseca grounded out to third to end the game.

1970 White Sox ⚾️ 20-33 ⚾️61-101 pace ⚾️ 4th (of 6) place, AL West ⚾️ 16 GB ⚾️ Actual 162-game finish: 56-106

On June 7, in front of 65,880 at Yankee Stadium, the White Sox upended the Bronx Bombers, 4-3, in 12 innings. Ken Berry (4-for-5 with a homer) and Tommy McCraw (2-for-5, 2B, HR) were the hitting heroes. Tommy John started and went nine strong (seven hits, three earned, 61 game score) and Wilbur Wood threw three relief innings for the win, upping his season record to 3-6.




[For the 1932 and 1948 teams, records are extrapolated from 154 to 162 games.]