Guaranteed Rate Field opened up the 2023 season on April 3.
I was there, in Lot B, attending a tailgate party hosted by some friends of mine. I was in my element. The sun was trying to peek through the overcast clouds, and I filled my lungs with deep breaths of spring air, tinged by the smell of grilled onions. I was reunited with — and introduced to — many folks in my White Sox Twitter family. Sure, the White Sox lost, and Michael Kopech looked absolutely horrible, giving up what seemed to be about 52 home runs.
But on that day, it didn’t matter that much to me. Baseball was back.
April 4 was an off-day.
April 5? Well, that’s when it goes off the rails. At least, it did for me. I still struggle with where the line is on what or how much to share publicly, so you’ll forgive my vagueness. But on April 5, one of my children had a medical emergency. Suffice to say, I didn’t watch the game that day.
Or the next game.
Or the one after that.
And none of them, really, until recently. Things at home have improved to the point that I’m able to watch a game here and there. (Thank you all for your sincere concern, shoulders to cry on, and acts of love, generosity, and service. My White Sox Twitter friends have been my angels throughout this nightmare.)
On the nights I’m able to sit down and watch a game, I’m watching a team I barely recognize. Missing almost two months of a baseball season is very disorienting. Why is Tim Anderson’s OPS+ only 57? What do you mean Eloy Jiménez had an emergency appendectomy? Who the hell is Jesse Scholtens? They DFA’d José Ruiz and Jake Diekman? (Well, OK, that last one is kind of funny.)
As things at home slowly improve, my desire to write is also slowly returning. But where would I even start? I would love to dig through game logs and stats and try and educate myself on what parts of the machine are breaking down and why, but dear reader, I just don’t have that kind of time or energy right now. I’m running on fumes over here. Even if I could find the time, I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to watch future games with much consistency. I mean, I’d probably be able to get enough on my fastball to pump out a few semi-informed takes on Twitter, but not enough to analyze the team with any authority.
I feel like I’m at an impasse: What happens when a baseball writer can’t watch baseball?
On the one hand, it’s been kind of nice to live in the moment. It feels like a vacation. A long weekend for my baseball brain. For example, I didn’t even know how many games behind the team was in the division until I looked it up to write this piece. It’s been a pleasant change of pace, especially having weathered the decidedly unpleasant last few seasons on the South Side. It becomes less about Rick Hahn’s Mega Bullpen debacle and more about sitting in your backyard with a drink and Len and DJ on the call. It’s less about squandered contention windows and more about high-fiving your friend when Romy González doubles in a few runs to give the Sox the lead.
Maybe this is an inevitable and natural evolution of my fandom, or maybe this is all it ever should have been.
I suppose there’s a lesson there. Baseball, after all, is a game, and games are meant to be fun — even when you’re losing. And the great thing about 162-game seasons is that even during the worst of years, you still get to win some of the time. Things don’t stay dark forever.
In Wednesday’s 6-0 win against the Cleveland Guardians, the Michael Kopech we saw was very different from the one we saw during the home opener on April 3. He looked like a whole new pitcher. It seems like he is on a much better path now.
I can relate.