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The care and feeding of baseball crabs

It’s 43% of the way through the baseball season, White Sox fans — how are you feeling?

West Edmonton Mall
Mercy! That’s a lot of hermit crabs. How many of them are White Sox fans?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

You may recall, in the middle of the Worst Offseason of All Time, I assessed the crabbiness level of White Sox fans. It wasn’t good. Folks were edgy. I prescribed bourbon, a bubble bath, ice cream, yoga, sex, or whatever else provided stress relief, and I hope y’all took my advice.

Here we are, five months later — already! (Time flies when you have a Sox gamethread to spend time in.) An off-day after a split against the Cubs seems as good a time as any to reassess the crabbiness of Sox fans.

In general, Sox fans’ moods are on the uptick. An improvement of 11 wins so far will do that. There are even some things (Gio, TA7, Yoán, McCann) that are actually making Sox fans happy. Whatever the opposite of crabs are, I’ll use that for a “happiness” rating another day. But let’s check in on a few things that were making us crabby in the offseason, and where we stand now.

Yoan Moncada strikeouts. He had 217 last season, leading all of MLB and putting him fourth on the all-time single-season list. So far this season, he’s at 78 (albeit with some missed games because of his back strain). If he keeps that pace, he’ll hit 180 this year, a huge improvement that doesn’t even rank in the top 50 all-time.

Crabbiness rating: Yes, Moncada’s K% is higher lately, but I’m still giving this zero crabs.

Harpchado. Well. Lots of ink has been spilled, err, keyboards have been hit, on this topic. Your Crabbiness May Vary on this subject more than any other. The Sox fans who thought Machado and Harper were both overpriced and didn’t want them in the first place are happily sitting with zero crabs (yeah, I typed that). Others who wished the Sox had signed one or both are disappointed, but aren’t going to waste their time obsessing over something that’s finished. Still others are looking at a team that’s two games below .500 and wondering what might have been with the addition of a star-level player.

Crabbiness rating: Cannot compute — danger Will Robinson — circuit overload — PC Load Letter, what does that even mean? — check engine soon! V.v.V The crabs have left the building and refuse to be counted. V.v.V

All other offseason acquisitions. At the time, I said this:

Every other team is getting better players than the Sox. Or at least it seems like it. Meanwhile, the Sox’s acquisitions thus far can be summed up as “meh.” Ivan Nova? Sure, he fills a need. And the bullpen has gotten better. John Jay immediately becomes our best outfielder, which is sad. But James McCann? Yonder Alonso? What?

Well, we were all wrong about McCann. Sure, he’ll regress some, but his hitting breakout seems real, he’s a genuine threat to throw out any baserunner, his framing is average (which, let’s be honest, is a positive around here), and his rapport with Lucas Giolito has been a revelation. As for the others, the bullpen is better this year. But Jay hasn’t played at all, Alonso is worse than bad, Nova has a good outing one-third of the time, and For Crying Out Loud, if the Sox Had Just Gotten Two or Three Real Players Instead of Collecting all of Manny’s Friends, We Might Actually Have a Contending Team.

Crabbiness rating: V.v.V V.v.V 5 crabs V.v.V V.v.V V.v.V

Michael Kopech is missing all of 2019. Imagine him pitching instead of Ervin Santana, Manny Banuelos, and/or Odrisamer Despaigne. Imagine him and Giolito at the top of the rotation. On second thought, don’t.

Crabbiness rating: V.v.V V.v.V 5 crabs V.v.V V.v.V V.v.V

Nick Madrigal. He’s still as divisive a prospect as the Sox have, at least until Andrew Vaughn officially signs. But he’s hitting well in Birmingham, of all places, so things may be looking up.

Crabbiness rating: V.v.V 1 crab

Collusion, salary suppression, and a looming players’ strike. This hasn’t been a hot topic of conversation when there’s actual baseball to watch, but the threat of a strike right when the Sox are supposed to be good again remains real.

Crabbiness rating: V.v.V V.v.V 3 crabs V.v.V

And presenting a couple of new topics that Sox fans are crabby about, now that we’re in-season:

Ricky Renteria. He calls for the bunt too often. He makes odd personnel management decisions. He plays matchups with the bullpen to an exhausting degree. On the other hand, the team is better this year and quite a bit of actual fun to watch, and perhaps some of that comes from a clubhouse culture that he creates. Crabbiness rating: V.v.V V.v.V 3 crabs V.v.V (but 5 crabs if we’re talking solely about the bunting).

Extended netting. Some people are really, really, really crabby about this. I’m giving it 0 crabs, though, because there are things in this world that are far more deserving of anyone’s crabbiness.

Injuries. Kopech, Rodón, Dunning, Lambert, Jones, Burr, Covey — the list is seemingly endless. Not only is it bad fortune for the team we love, but it makes us wonder what the hell is going wrong with the Sox training regimen. Crabbiness rating: V.v.V V.v.V 4 crabs V.v.V V.v.V

Minor league disappointments. Nobody in Birmingham outside of Luis Robert can hit. What happened to all of our outfield depth? Crabbiness rating: V.v.V V.v.V 3 crabs V.v.V

When are Robert and Dylan Cease going to see the bigs? Enough said. V.v.V V.v.V 5 crabs V.v.V V.v.V V.v.V

All in all, things are looking up around here. Fun is being had, where there was no fun before. But, still, there remain crabs to feed, because we’re Sox fans after all.