Last season was a not-so-gentle reminder that being a Sox fan can be brutal. At the same time, as we head into 2023, I need to put the beast behind me and take a cue from the players. None of them want to talk about last year. They want to move forward with a renewed perspective and energy, and I have discovered I need that, too.
I am a glass-half-empty person, so it’s often extremely challenging for me to focus on the positives and potential in any given situation. Nonetheless, as this Generation Xer has gotten older, carrying the burden of negative energy has become somewhat exhausting. My back is aching, and my legs are tired; it’s time to lighten the load.
As my 17-year-old son and I head to Spring Training in a week, I desire to soak up every minute I can in the Arizona sun and dream of the possibilities of a new season. I want to watch the prospects and imagine the extraordinary big-league futures they may have. Might we see the next Frank Thomas or Paul Konerko?
Take White Sox No. 2 prospect Oscar Colás, who looks like he could be an NFL running back. Will he likely win Rookie of the Year and become the next great player to earn a statue at Guaranteed Rate Field? Probably not, but it’s possible, and why not imagine it could be true? He has been RAKING in Spring Training, the fruits of his daily workouts this offseason with new coach Mike Tosar showing. In 18 plate appearances, he’s slashing .389/.389/.444 with seven hits, tying him with Hanser Alberto for second-most on the team. Dreaming he could be a Hall-of-Famer is undoubtedly more fun than expecting him to be Casper Wells.
However, in leaving 2022 behind, my education as a mental health therapist encourages me to reflect on what last year taught me before putting it to bed. I need closure. It is time to digest, see what I learned, and clean the slate. So here we go:
Less is more
Expectations for the 2022 team loomed large. Things like the infamous Fresh Prince NBC Sports Chicago meme did not do us any favors. I’m a big fan of the message and approach I’ve heard from Pedro this spring, about looking no further ahead than the next five days. There’s no talk of World Series or bust, and planning parades. Let’s take it a handful of days at a time and see what we have done well and what we can do better. Very rational. Very un-Soxlike.
The intangibles are crucial to success
Culture, vocal and credible leadership from the coaching staff and players, character, and preparation are necessary, not optional. Most of these are common sense, but they appear to be items lacking last year, if not the several years prior as well. One of the most recent quotes from José Abreu in Houston’s camp spoke rather loudly about precisely this: “I think sometimes talking about the past can bring a lot of animosity, but I think the best way I can put it is just that we weren’t a real family.” I hope that the coaching overhaul and re-signing Elvis Andrus are just some things that will improve the intangibles this season. I absolutely LOVE the Andrus signing, and may even have to buy his shirsey this year.
Being a die-hard is no joke
The word “die” in this phrase should have clued me into what was in store for a lifetime of fandom. The older I’ve gotten, the harder it’s been not to be pessimistic about life in general. It feels like the more exposed we are to all the doom and gloom of life, the more difficult it is not to be affected by it. Much was made last season about Steve Stone telling fans to enjoy the ride while many of us were vomiting profusely on that so-called ride.
So this season, I invite you to join me as I stock up on some Dramamine, pull down the lap bar, throw my hands in the air, and do my best to enjoy the ride!