Join Professor SoxSketcher as we delve into the storied lore of Pale Hose culture. A dusty book opens and a mottled page is turned, revealing an engraving of one goddamned juicy-looking cheeseburger ...
In difficult times throughout history, cultures have looked to folk heroes for inspiration and guidance. In 4th Century China, Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man and defended her home against nomadic invaders. England in the 13th Century had Robin Hood, who ambushed shipments of gold and jewels and redistributed them to the poor. These characters serve to inspire hope, to spark confidence in the human condition.
The current White Sox folk hero? Jake Burger. More about him in a minute.
Now, the few dozen fans milling around the corner of 35th and Shields have had their share of folk heroes over the years. This isn’t anything new.
Daniel Palka made his famous run in 2018, mashing 27 homers in his rookie year. Yermín Mercedes captured the national zeitgeist in 2021, thumping eight hits in his first eight at-bats. Fans attending 2021’s season’s lone playoff win saw the zenith of another folk hero’s journey: Leury “Legend” García’s go-ahead home run against the Astros would be his Mt. Everest.
Yes, Sox fans need a hero. When your team stinks like the sludge in a State Street gutter, you focus on the only sure thing.
Jake Burger, who has been professionally bruising baseballs for years now, leads the White Sox roster with seven home runs. He started this season in the minors, before “Bubble Boy” Eloy Jiménez was inevitably injured. Allow me to re-iterate: Our most powerful hitter didn’t even make the Opening Day roster.
Burger has also been a fine defenseman, snagging some rifled line drives at third base. And on the base paths, Burger is even outrunning Luis Robert Jr., whose dog-days-of-summer base running got him benched this weekend by skipper Pedro Grifol.
Quite simply, if it weren’t for Burger (and teammate Gavin Sheets, who has also come in clutch), we’d really be in a world of offensive hurt. With the absence of Tim Anderson, whose presence usually boosts morale and team performance by a significant margin, major kudos to Burger for stepping up and keeping this team alive.
Sox fans have found a folk hero in Burger, and whether his powerful hitting lasts for a series or a season, it keeps me watching.
2023 South Side Sox Players of the Week
Oscar Colás (February 25-March 2)
Andrew Vaughn (March 3-8)
Carlos Pérez (March 9-16)
Oscar Colás (March 17-22)
Cactus League MVP: Oscar Colás
Dylan Cease (March 30-April 5)
Luis Robert Jr. (April 6-12)
Lucas Giolito (April 13-20)
Jake Burger (April 21-27)
Top 10 MVP Standings
Seby Zavala (28.0)
Jake Burger (24.2)
Lucas Giolito (21.8)
Oscar Colás (17.1)
Zach Remillard (16.4)
Luis Robert Jr. (15.0)
Dylan Cease (12.4)
Andrew Vaughn (11.0)
Carlos Pérez (8.8)
Melissa Sage-Bollenbach (8.4)
Top 10 Cold Cat Standings
Yoán Moncada (-16.1)
Yasmani Grandal (-15.6)
Keynan Middleton (-12.1)
White Sox Offense (-10.0)
Kendall Graveman (-9.9)
Jake Marisnick (-8.9)
Declan Cronin (-8.1)
Tristan Stivors (-7.9)
Joe Kelly (-7.8)
Aaron Bummer (-7.4)
With this POTW honor, Burger leaps from seventh to second in MVP ranks. And with Yasmani Grandal getting some rare plus votes, injured Yoán Moncada retakes the top Cold Cat spot!
What else do you need to know about the 2023 White Sox than that a writer covering just one game so far — Jacki Krestel, on Opening Night — now sits atop our coverage standings? In fact, the only other current winning streak (through games of April 27) is Brett Ballantini’s — is, like Jacki’s, one game.
Perhaps it’s apt that the Indianapolis Field Office will soon be shuttering, as Joe Resis is stuck at .500 (“great” by this standings board’s standards) and Chrystal O’Keefe is languishing in last place.
If you’re interested in seeing more of Mitch’s work, or if you’d like to purchase original drawings or prints, contact him via Twitter (@soxsketcher), Instagram (@southsidesharpie), or by e-mail at email@example.com. Thanks for supporting local artists!