The White Sox stagger to Tampa to face the best team in baseball, a nightmare scenario for a Chicago team that’s getting close to the tipping point. The Rays have been head-and-shoulders better than anyone else, with the best hitting and the best pitching in the league. Right now, they’re playing like if Shohei Ohtani was a whole damn team.
This is going to be a rough matchup for our Sox. Taking one out of three might be a reasonable outcome, but the season demands winning a series. It’s baseball, so anything can happen, of course. But right now, we are running into the 1995-96 Bulls.
If the Rays maintain their current winning percentage, they’d go 136-26. That would be really damn good.
The White Sox are 96-81 overall against Tampa. That advantage might shrink by the end of the weekend.
So How Are They Doing, Anyway?
The Rays have been struggling over their last six games, slumping to a 3-3 record, which drops their overall mark to 16-3.
You know how they are doing: They’re amazing. After a minor blip against the Jays, Tampa won two out of three from Cincy, including two straight shutouts, outscoring the Reds 18-0 in the two non-contests.
The Rays have six shutouts overall. They’ve hit 42 home runs, nine clear of the runner-up Dodgers. They’ve scored 133 runs, 21 up on the second-best Rangers. They’re the leaders in every slash stat. On the rubber, they’re stingy: tops in runs allowed, OBA ... they’ve only let up eight homers.
But they’re just second in WHIP. So there’s a weak spot. Exploit it, boys!
Are the Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?
You’re asking this? Didn’t I already tell you they are fearsome?
Wander Franco. Josh Lowe. Randy Arozarena. Taylor Walls. Brandon Lowe. Yandy Díaz. Those six alone have combined for 42 homers. They have an average wRC+ of 158. They have an 8.0 WAR on the season, through 16 games!
And Tyler Glasnow hasn’t even played yet. What the hell?
And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?
We got one battle of aces, one battle of strugglers, and one battle that’s To Be Determined. I guess everything in this series is to be determined, depending on how you feel about fate and predestination.
Friday, April 21
Sox: Michael Kopech (0-2, 6.32) is still struggling with control and the long ball. The last two outings have been decent for a fifth starter, but not what we wanted from Kopech at this stage.
Rays: Calvin Faucher (0-0, 4.15) brings us a bullpen start! Bullpen start! Bullpen start! He’ll go one or two innings and strike out two people.
Saturday, April 22
Sox: Dylan Cease (2-0, 2.01) hasn’t gone deep for a few starts, but he puts his team in a position to win.
Rays: Shane McClanahan (4-0, 1.57) has been lights-out all year, unsurprisingly, striking out 27 in 23 innings. His WHIP is higher than his career average, but it’s still 1.13. He’s good.
Sunday, April 23
Sox: TBD (some guy you’ve heard of who is going to lose)
Rays: TBD (some guy you’ve never heard of who is going to win)
Why Do We Hate Tampa?
There are, I am sure, people who live in Tampa. Who say sentences like, “I am proud and happy to be from Tampa, the place I call home!” Who maybe have little stickers on their car that say Keep Tampa Weird because there is one coffee shop that has an open mic afternoon. There are people who stay up all night ruminating about the future of Tampa, or have opinions about the seedy underbelly of the waterfront. But I have never met any of these people, and neither have you.
I have asked a co-worker their opinion on Tampa, and he said, “I have driven through Tampa.”
Another co-worker apparently lived there, for who knows what reason, and calls it “Hot Ohio.”
I presume the finest restaurant there heavily involves cartoon parrots and is called, like, “Aunt Boobies.” The art museum is just framed stills of Miami Vice over which someone scrawled “better in tampa.”
And yet, these nouveau-riche transplants, too scared of the cold to stay in real cities with actual human beings and culture have had overwhelming, jealousy-inducing success in sports. Two Super Bowls this century. Two Stanley Cups. And the omnipresent success of the Rays. It makes a mockery of our cold-weather character.
I have little doubt that the giant stinking seaweed blob floating toward Tampa will soon be elected mayor.
Why Do We Hate the Rays?
As you’ll see in the comments, a lot of it comes down to jealousy. They don’t spend a lot, and they have consistently great teams. They are competitive year-in and year-out despite not having any fans. They nurture talent, and develop it, and know when to cut bait right before the talent turns south. Their player development and scouting staff probably makes more than the players.
But that’s the point. The Rays have made being parsimonious pettiness seem like a virtue. They’ve allowed every owner and jock-holding podcasting sycophant excuse cheapness, and treat it as a good unto itself. It’s not. Owners getting richer is a given. It shouldn’t be a goal. The success of the Rays lets people pretend that it’s easy to win without spending money — or if not easy, just around the corner.
The Rays are one of the most fun teams in a long time. Their organizational talent is at the top of the world when it comes to intelligence, analytics, and just plain knowing baseball. The franchise is a rotten disgrace.
Let’s Hear it From White Sox Fans!
Tampa Bay doesn’t even exist. It’s just Tampa. Also, 2 World Series appearances and you get pantsed in both of them? You are a waste of talent and I desperately wish we could swap organizations.— Lenford “Lenny” Leonard (@Leonard42) April 20, 2023
summertime - I hate summer in Tampa— LoudChuck (@chuckjanczy) April 20, 2023
The Terrible Trop
The Trop seems like shit. Their owners are cheap and extremely lucky that they have one of the three best scouting departments in baseball. Still not as cheap as the White Sox though https://t.co/BITpsn0rn3— Dante (@DontizzleJones) April 20, 2023
They built their stadium in downtown St Pete instead of downtown Tampa so the two years I lived there, instead of biking to games I had to drive 45 minutes over a bridge to games.— baltimoreabortionfund.org/donate (@rahulastrohl) April 20, 2023
The trop Catwalks are bad and also they shouldn't be allowed to be so good by paying s little money— whitest sox u'know (@flannelGoddess) April 20, 2023
Their stadium is the worst in the league. You can't even walk around the whole stadium. You have to turn and go back at a certain point.— Like A Rolling Spock ✡️ (@gonzo3249) April 20, 2023
Food at the Trop is crap— (Ex)PeoriaWhiteSox (@soxpeoria) April 20, 2023
They have Randy & I’m jealous. They also draft and develop like no other, and are always competitive despite playing in a dump of a stadium in a bad baseball market. They succeed. They are a shining example of everything the White Sox aren’t, and for that I hate them.— Ryiin (@rfoto) April 20, 2023
I have no idea why anyone ever trades with them. Tampa is smarter than nearly everyone in baseball. If they like one of your guys, you have the wrong grade on him. If they are trying to sell someone to you, then likely your mlb scouting isn’t good. They fleece everyone.— GingerBeard IV (@Konstake89) April 20, 2023
They do really well without paying a huge contract.— Father Sean (@sean_janko) April 20, 2023
I hate their ability to grow, adapt, and evolve as an organization while operating on a limited budget and in a crappy stadium. It's the kind of success that White Sox fans can't even dream of therefore I hate them.— Lapsed Sox Fan (@BHawksGolfer) April 20, 2023
Bad for Baseball
They get praised for being cheap and it hurts the rest of baseball— A.J. (@AJEarley4) April 20, 2023
I hate that they're the poster child for being successful without spending, ignoring that they'd have multiple titles if they'd just spend.— Mark Bussey (@Mark_Bussey) April 20, 2023
Also their refusal to just go back to the 90's uniforms permanently
this is a stretch but a baby ray stung me and holy shit the pain— ⚾️maryjblond⚾️ (@maryJblond) April 20, 2023
They worshipped the Devil for a long time.— Baseball Bri (@bri_culpepper) April 20, 2023
Trying to replace DJ Kitty with whatever this is pic.twitter.com/qVbeCx9HqO— White Sox Twitt3r (Is Baby Hippo) (@SoxTwitt3r) April 20, 2023
I guess they’re fine
I’ll think of something to hate but I kinda liked the Sox reunion in TB.. not pictured: Wilson Alvarez pic.twitter.com/XTMZhbgBSu— Nick Murawski (@Nick_GGTB) April 20, 2023
That they have actual good pizza in their town.— Jeff White (@JeffWhite019) April 20, 2023
Tampa built their stadium to entice Jerry Reinsdorf to bring the team to them and failed to close the deal thus causing us Sox fans endless decades of more misery. We could have quit on this team years ago and saved ourselves the heartache.— Adam Kaplan - Sr Contributor for Sox On 35th (@MillennialSox) April 20, 2023
Ironically, they built it to steal the White Sox from Chicago too! Reinsdorf used it as leverage to get the new Comiskey, IIRC.....— Todd Reynolds (@drToddAFT) April 20, 2023
For Reasons Too Disgusting to Speak
That they are so good but so cheap. They’re Jerry Reinsdorf’s wet dream if he would just be a little smarter— Jon (@jonklemke) April 20, 2023