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South Side Sox Top 20: The Best Stories of 2022

Promotions, breaking news, season-long pain ... and Tony, Tony, Tony!

Despite the devastatingly disappointing 2022 season, South Side Sox had a successful campaign by every metric. Our staff saw some losses to counter our gains, but the bench remained deep and diverse. Even through the pain, there was some amazing analysis, humor, spot news, recapping, and regular features.

This survey piece highlights our the Top 20 stories on the site for 2022. There will be some winceable moments, but listen, we don’t make the highlight tape, we just report on it.

While I didn’t make an exact count, I would guess that there were roughly three dozen writers who contributed bylines to South Side Sox at some point in 2022, and a third of them are represented here. There are some on the five-year plan like me, as well as a few making their SSS debuts in 2021 or 2022.

We will continue to provide exhaustive coverage of this team, win or lose. And we promise to offer you a diversity of voices that you should now come to know, and hopefully appreciate, South Side Sox for. Look around — newspapers, magazines, team sites, blogs — you don’t see a staff like this anywhere.

I’m terribly proud of them. And incredibly appreciative of all of you reading. Like Brett says on the podcasts, without you, we’re not here. Thanks for spending your White Sox time with us.

20. A Rick Hahn Assessment, Part One: Trades
Brett Ballantini
December 13

Malachi Hayes’ story about GM Rick Hahn’s trading weakness so intrigued Brett that he (no, he’s not obsessive or anything) constructed a full spreadsheet of every deal Hahn has made. with the results pouring out in this piece. And this became a good example of how engagement with the community here can make a story better, as methodology was discussed and challenged, with the story updated. Hahn actually swung from being in the red to the black in the process!

19. White Sox add Vince Velasquez to an amorphous rotation end
Year of the Hamster
March 14

You really should click, simply to enjoy again the sardonic subhed, which has been a staple of our coverage over the past five years. You’ll notice a number of these stories are simply spot news that hit at the right time with the audience; possibly we were first with a story, or wrote something that got updated, or the quality was such that readers ventured back to read once or twice. Or most likely, the stars aligned.

18. Jerry Reinsdorf selling? Not on his life
Mark Liptak
August 29

There was some unsubstantiated scuttle, and perhaps even some legit news coverage and/or podcasting, put toward the late-summer notion that Jerry Reinsdorf might sell the White Sox while still alive. This feature isn’t a dis track on that coverage, but it does disabuse anyone of the notion that Jerry for a second would take the financial hit of selling without taking advantage of the death/inheritance benefits from selling the team post-mortem.

17. Joe Kelly and Josh Harrison join the White Sox
Brett Ballantini
March 12

Again, the sardonic subhed makes it. Credit Brett for criticizing the Kelly signing even in the context of full health — if he’s not a closer, can’t stay healthy, and hasn’t been good for years when healthy, why in the world would you outlay money in a multiyear deal?

16. White Sox select LHSP Noah Schultz in first round (No. 26 overall)
Brett Ballantini
July 17

I don’t think it’s a low blow to say there was nothing particularly special about Brett’s piece on the first round choice this year. But I will say is special, and what went largely unnoticed by everyone, is that he wrote 17 of the 20 draft features on our site, all in real time, getting them published within minutes of the draft announcement and updating as warranted. I believe that makes four years of real-time draft writing, and this was the first where one of us took on that much of a burden.

S/O also to Adrian Serrano for providing the other three draft features, a great effort in his first draft for us and his first such prospects writing.

15. Dodgers 11, White Sox 9: We have far exceeded the need to continue the Tony La Russa experience
Kristina Airdo
June 9

From here, you see a theme emerge: “Tony La Russa” generates hits. Trust me, it would have been best for all of us if we had zero occasion to write a Tony La Russa story over the past three years, but the White Sox conspired against us there. Better to make the writing cutting, creative, and consistent, then.

This marks our first site newcomer (OK, Kristina hopped aboard after the 2021 season, in time to provide dutiful coverage of labor talks) and first game recap to appear in the Top 20. Hats off to a busy year for one of our best and brightest!

14. Feeling less bad about White Sox drafts
Trooper Galactus
February 19

Think we only criticize the White Sox? Or someone like Trooper does? No way. Credit where it’s due. Well, wait, this isn’t exactly a pro-Sox drafting story, but it tell it like it is, putting what the White Sox have accomplished over recent years in some perspective.

13. Guardians 11, White Sox 2: That’s it, trade everyone
Malachi Hayes
March 19

This starts a run of three straight top stories for Malachi, and if you skipped past the date, you might figure this was written about a midseason, or certainly September, White Sox contest. But no, the hed here is actually a joke, as it’s a recap of the first Spring Training game of the Cactus League season.

12. What the trade deadline looks like when your team is bad, your owner is cheap, and your farm system is barren
Malachi Hayes
July 9

Another thing you might notice is that the longer the headline, the better chance there is you are about to read something special, or essential. Brett would probably call it the Frank Zappa or Camper Van Beethoven Titling Corollary.

Anyhow, Malachi gave us this dose of straight talk about what to expect come trade deadline. Every White Sox fan howled about the team getting nothing for a the stretch run via trade — hey, I went a little meatball and did, too — but if you’d read this forecast, you would have known there was coal waiting in the stocking.

11. Forget the blockbusters: the White Sox have been terrible at trading for a decade
Malachi Hayes
June 3

The inspiration for Brett’s follow-up piece (No. 20), this was a terrific takedown that explained how truly awful Rick Hahn has been with trading anything but the prime rib from his table. Especially poignant was the revelation that Hahn hasn’t pulled a single rabbit out of his hat — the sleeper pickup that pays off significantly, even for a single season — ever.

10. Three knee-jerk trade ideas to jolt the White Sox
Jason Kinander
June 11

Jason has a knack for drawing clicks, and he provides all, or almost all, of our quick-grabbing survey stories. As you can tell, this was written when there was still hope that the White Sox could be jolted.

9. Wes Helms removed from manager role at Charlotte
Brett Ballantini/Chrystal O’Keefe
May 20

As I have become even more of the offseason caretaker/editor here and much less in-season, Chrystal is the most prominent (among several, yes) to fill the coverage gap. The ownership she has taken of her role in the site is significant, and inspiring. And what I love about this (to be fair, ugly, ugly) story is the collaboration between two of our top writers, teaming up to get a story out quick, but detailed, and correct. Find me another group out there in the White Sox world, maybe even in the SB Nation world, that collaborates this well, and frequently.

8. No Vaccine, No Entry
Dante Jones
May 30

Leave it to this horrible 2022 White Sox season to have a shadow cast over even our best individual player, Dylan Cease, he of the Initially Vaccinated but Not Boosted Ceases. Dante scooped up the story of Cease and Kendall Graveman sitting out the Sox series in Toronto due to vax status and rolled it out quickly, and very well. Terrifying to know that as this pandemic seems to be finding its third or fourth or fifth wind, we’re adding more, not fewer, like-mindeds to the roster.

7. Don’t Call it a Comeback: White Sox fall to Rangers as Tony La Russa receives a stadium full of fans’ ire
Di Billick
June 11

We did not get enough Di Billick this year. Maybe Brett needs to sweeten her incentives. The use of angry dad texts in this recap truly makes it unique. Hang in there, Daddy Di, can’t get worse in 2023, right?

6. Tony La Russa is a really, really good baseball manager
Adrian Serrano
April 23

If you are wondering who the best absurdist is on our staff, look no farther. I’d like to think this was so wonderfully done that it earned all of its views, but let’s face it, you know a bunch of folks saw the story on Twitter and went right to the outrage. Punk’d!

5. Potential partners to purge the pen’s prima donna
Trooper Galactus
March 12

In the vein of Malachi’s piece on what to expect from a barren system come trade deadline (No. 12), Trooper took a sober look at not so much best-case scenarios as any legit scenario. Honest credit to Rick Hahn that he pulled off a deal — OK, after screwing himself, his payroll and his roster over by committing $13 million unnecessarily to Craig Kimbrel in the mother of all unforced errors — better than any Trooper outlined here.

4. No joke: The White Sox made great moves today
April 1
Chrystal O’Keefe

Believe it or not, that Kimbrel trade was not an April Fools’ joke. Combined with the announcement that the White Sox got over themselves and (somewhat) met Lucas Giolito’s salary demands, this was as giddy as you might see O’Keefe get.

I don’t think I need to tell you, those cotton-candy swirls burned off of Chrystal — and all of us — pretty quickly, because the Season of Pain was right around the corner.

3. 2022: The Year That Broke White Sox Fans
Brian O’Neill
December 29

OK, seriously, this is crazy. Brian cracked the Top 3 with a story that has been live for three days. This is a piece that could absolutely crack next year’s Top 20, too. We are not worthy.

But damn, has this O’Neill guy been an incredible catch for us. Insightful, humorous, and always with at least one reference I have to look up. I wonder if Brett has told Brian the story about getting scolded on the beat for writing too smartly for his readers.

Please don’t be too willfully ignorant to read Brian O’Neill, SSS readers. Or Brett, either; he still can be sort of smart, too, I suppose.

2. White Sox 2022 Promotional Schedule Is Here
Chrystal O’Keefe
February 3

Hey wait, we are counting schedule stories? Then I’d be on this list like five times!

OK well, the difference is that Chrystal wrote a fun, creative piece about all the different promos the Sox announced (late, remember, we had a labor impasse that almost saw the greedy owners punt the season?). All promo pieces like this should be a fun read, and O’Keefe sure nailed this one.

1. Tony La Russa tries his best to get fired, as the White Sox beat the Rays despite a clear setup to get smoked
Di Billick
June 4

Now, I’m working off of memory on this one because I can’t find Brett’s announcement to our staff, but this story was even more substantial than just our top-read one of the year. It was just the second time in our time here at SSS that the site had the top-read story of all of SB Nation’s baseball coverage.

This was Di’s best piece of the year, and not just for the homemade graphics. It was truly a game column more than mere recap, as it cut to the heart of what was wrong with the team and the sinking feeling — in early June, mind you — that this club was going to break hearts.

Somehow, this Top 20 did not feature the story that included Di’s outstanding La Russa interview reboot. Maybe she should only get rain-delay assignments in 2023.

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