In my house growing up, we had a Sunrise Rule for Sports-Induced Despair: Be as angry and sulky and miserable as you wanted, but in the morning, it was over. “The sun always rises the next day,” my father would say, his version of “Tomorrow” more pragmatic and resigned than the original; this was a life motto for him that went well beyond sports. My mother, an extraordinarily successful high school volleyball coach, never let her teams dwell on a loss. It was what it was. It’s done. The sun was up, you put one foot in front of the other, and you moved on.
At the beginning of this offseason, I could be quoted as saying (I’m sure it’s in a thread somewhere, if y’all want to look it up), “Whoever signs Harper or Machado will come to see the contract as an albatross. One will be injured all the time, the other will get lazy and overweight.” I believed that then, and I am still not sure it’s not true. But as the interminable “hot” stove wore on, I could be quoted as saying, “Machado fills a specific need, the Sox have the money, he will make the team better, go sign him.” I believed that, too. I became convinced that the South Side would be relevant once more, that Sox Park would be alive and exciting again.
We lost. It’s done.
What makes this all so profoundly painful is that I feel 16 years old again, and the hottest, most popular guy in my class is flirting with me, in front of everybody, but he never means any of it. Who is the teenage boy in our White Sox fandom equivalent — Manny? Rick/Kenny? Jerry? All of the above? Who cares, we have Been. Jerked. Around.
In the past 18 hours, Sox fans have been robust and vocal — on this blog, other blogs, Twitter, I assume Facebook. Screen names I have never seen before are popping up to comment. Which is both so-very-White Sox Fan (stick my head out only to complain) and also genuinely heartening (we have never met, most of us, but we’re here, together). Many of you are emphatically stating you are quitting the Sox for good, or at least not spending your money on them this year. I get it, and I support it. I am tempted to make such a declaration myself. There is precedence: After the 1994 strike, my parents and I did not set foot in Comiskey Park again for four years.
But ultimately, and perhaps predictably, it comes down to this: I love baseball. I love watching baseball. I love watching baseball live. Most of all, I love watching baseball live with an Italian sausage, churro, a beer, and my scorecard and pencil in hand. So what am I to do? Trek 90 miles each way to catch the Brewers? Make a tour of the suburban minor league teams? I’m sure as fork not becoming a Cubs fan. So I will go to Sox Park this year, definitely less often than usual, likely CRABBIER than usual, possibly wearing a to-be-designed t-shirt that expresses my disgust with the front office. But I will be there. I will hope that TA and Yoán and Eloy and the young pitchers give us reason for optimism. We need it.
I hope to see some of you there. But my heart is with you even if I don’t.
Cheer up, White Sox fans: Our owner has not been caught sending vile, racist, stomach-churning emails. Yet.