Now, we all know there’s a generally negative attitude among White Sox fans as to how things are apt to proceed this year. And, yes, fans are backed by experts such as Caesar’s sports book (the only one I could find which would provide the info without having to sign up for their sucker list), which foresees a 64.5-win season,
(I did happen across a site that predicted 74.5 wins, but that may have just been for humor. If somebody offers you the under on that, you may not want to bet your house ... but a few rooms and the garage seems a safe wager.)
However, things are not as bad as you might think. At least they’re not as bad if you squint from just the right angle.
Once again, the only question will be whether the White Sox will lose more than 100 games. This year there’s the added question of whether they finish last in the abysmal AAAL Central. Both of those questions could be answered by mid-September. Or, maybe July.
No, that’s good, because with all that’s happening around the nation and the world, 2024 looks to be an extremely stressful year, especially come fall. Fans of competitive teams will have the added pressure of wondering whether their teams will win divisions or make the playoffs — pressure White Sox won’t have faced since, maybe, early May. Sure, there’s the race to 100 losses, but that’s pure fun.
MLB had a very good year in 2023, but White Sox attendance plummeted 19%, with TV audiences disappearing as well. That brought the average down to about half the house, which was the same level as it was toward the end of the seven years in the rebuild wilderness. Chances are good attendance will take another dive this year, giving the powers-that-be the opportunity to again blame fans for all their own failures.
No, that’s good. It means for many games, maybe most — maybe all but Opening Day and the Crosstown series — the upper deck will be closed off so nobody will have to clean the bathrooms up there. That in turn means that instead of treating those who can’t afford more expensive seats like pond scum and not allowing them on the 100 level (the usual White Sox way), people buying seats in the 500 level will be allowed to mix with the upper crust on the lower deck, and before the game their children will be able to ask for autographs and try to catch batting practice homers just like the Wilmette kids do.
AS FOR THE ORGANIZATION
Let’s start at the top.
Reinsdorf will spend 2024 doing what he loves to do and what he’s good at, namely dodging taxes — well, dodging outgoing taxes, tax money coming to him being another specialty. His tax obsession will continue to mean he won’t sell the team, so his heirs can take advantage of the bizarre tax breaks involving inheritance and capital gains. That will of course leave Sox fans pining for his death ... but unfortunately, actuarial tables suggest he’ll live, on average, through the 2028 season, maybe longer since billionaires get better health care than the rest of us. Thus, those fan wishes aren’t apt to come true.
No, that’s good. Wishing for someone else’s death is terrible karma. Fans may suffer through the season, but they’ll do so knowing their psychic input did not cause the demise of anyone, not even a greedy, grasping, nasty control freak.
The new GM/president/whatever other titles he has is already showing that the incompetence he’s demonstrated throughout his career is sure to carry over to the new job, and 2024 will be a banner year for that demonstration. With him at the helm, White Sox failure is a pretty sure thing for many years to come. Naturally, the one thing Getz is good at is the only thing required of White Sox officials, namely the ability to affix his lips firmly to Reinsdorf’s keister. Of course, he’ll be talking about how soft the AL Central is ... until the Sox are 18 games behind Kansas City in August.
No, that’s good. Getz is an inspiration for us all, his career demonstrating that no matter how bad you are at something, the opportunity to fail upward always looms. We’ve all done poorly at some job or class or relationship in our lives — OK, maybe not you, but the rest of us — and it is incredibly reassuring to look at him and think, “If even Chris Getz can get a big promotion then, by God, so can I.”
Back for a second year after a first one of colossal failure, perhaps because Reinsdorf thinks he’s gone far enough in paying Leury García not to play this season and doesn’t need to add a manager, Grifol is going to have a breakthrough. No, not on the field — in his verbalizing. So far, Grifol has been incapable of mouthing anything but stupid platitudes and ass-kissing, but one day during the 2024 season he’s going to shout about how horrible an organization the White Sox is, what lazy, unteachable jerks the players are, and how godawful he is at the job he’s supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, instead of at a postgame press conference, he’ll scream those words in the privacy of his shower at home, so like that proverbial tree in the forest, his words won’t make a sound.
No, that’s good. At least from Grifol’s point of view. He gets emotional release but doesn’t jeopardize his job. His therapist will be very pleased.
While some players will hit better in 2024 and some will hit worse, the one thing that can absolutely be counted on is that they will be the worst in MLB, or close to it (thank goodness for Oakland!), in taking walks and pitch recognition and thus swing at waaaay more bad pitches than any other team (except, maybe, Oakland). As a result, they will be near the bottom in run production.
No, that’s good. The situation will get so awful that by midyear, the marvelous White Sox brain trust will order that no batter swing at any pitch except, in a reversal of the norm, on a 3-0 count. That will lead to an increase of .64 runs per game in scoring average.
New middle infielders like Paul DeJong and Nicky Lopez should do a much better job at ensuring routine ground balls don’t find their way to the outfield. Unfortunately, given the pitching situation, DeJong, Lopez and the rest of the fielders will spend most of their time with their backs to the plate, watching opponents’ homers plop into the seats.
No, that’s good. They’ll be perfectly positioned should the organist launch into an impromptu rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
The White Sox staff in 2024 is well positioned to continue the fine record of being the most inefficient in the major leagues and walking more batters than any other team. Getz’s continuing shopping expedition in the “Pitchers” aisle at Goodwill should make for a really large staff, but unfortunately, only 13 of them can be on the roster at one time. Because it’s unlikely any of the alleged starters will be able to make it through more than three or four innings (except for Dylan Cease, if he’s not traded — he’s good for up to five at his usual 20 pitches per inning), there will be a lot of wear and tear on the bullpen, adding to a lot of frequent flyer miles chalked up between Chicago and Charlotte.
No, that’s good. With the anticipated anemic offense and lousy pitching, the White Sox should be down by eight runs or more early in many games, which means they can use position players as pitchers, which is always a lot of fun and a real crowd-pleaser for the dozens of fans who paid to attend the game. Haven’t you always wanted to see Andrew Vaughn or Gavin Sheets twirl a few innings? I know I have.
The White Sox acquired catchers on the Costco system this offseason, with cases of them now on hand. With so many to choose from, Grifol’s preference for three on the 26-man roster should lead to a catching batting average of .375 ... of course, that’s the three batting averages combined, with Max Stassi and Martin Maldanado each contributing .150 and Korey Lee hanging in at .075.
No, that’s good. Catchers tend to be a tad on the slow side, so when they get on base, they clog things up for everyone else. The way all the new White Sox catchers hit, there will be no clogging at all, should anyone else ever get a hit.
Desperate for gimmicks to get attendance out of the doldrums, the White Sox will one game feature a race from home to first between Andrew Vaughn and Southpaw, with Southpaw winning by 40 feet.
No, that’s good. Seeing his athleticism, Grifol and Getz give Southpaw the first base job, where he’s a much bigger target for infielders, catches everything in his huge mitts, and uses his gigantic feet to prevent baserunners from getting back to the bag, resulting in dozens of pickoffs. Vaughn, meanwhile, discovers he prefers the reduced pressure of his second career as the new team mascot, Northpaw.
See DEFENSE, above.
Yoán Moncada will release his second music video, a salsa remake of the first Beatles single, slightly retitled Glove, Glove Me Do. Unfortunately, during the recording, he shows off one of his base hit-stealing moves and wrenches his back so badly he’s out for the season.
No, that’s good. Taylor Swift, who has a known soft spot for athletes, hears the song and does a duet with Moncada that makes it to No. 1 on 127 different Billboard charts and makes a billion dollars, so he can retire from baseball, which he doesn’t much like any more anyway. That leaves third base open from Colson Montgomery or Bryan Ramos.
Andrew Benintendi will celebrate the second year of his White Sox record-setting five-year, $75 million contract by phoning it in like he did in the first, with similar results.
No, that’s good. If he got even worse, even the White Sox would see a change is needed and put Andrew Vaughn back out there, since Southpaw is handling first. And if Benintendi got better, the Sox would give him a six-year, $90 million extension.
Keeping up the aplomb he somehow managed to maintain in 2023 despite being surrounded by total incompetence on all sides, Louis Robert Jr. battles for as long as he can mentally take it, but finally gets so disgusted he checks out as he did in 2022, and demands to be traded. At the deadline, he’s traded to the Giants for their top six prospects and Lou Seal, who replaces Vaughn as the Sox mascot..
No, that’s good, at least for Robert. The Giants teach him how to recognize sliders and he hits .550 for the rest of the season. Good also for White Sox fans who, having no players left worth watching, get to enjoy Lou.
The combination of Oscar Colás and Gavin Sheets continues to play like Oscar Colás and Gavin Sheets, which is unfortunate. Things get so bad the Sox put career .187 hitter Brett Phillips in right, just to have someone who can catch the ball on occasion and maybe even throw to the correct base.
No, that’s good, at least for the players. The White Sox give up on Colás as an outfielder and re-convert him back to pitcher, where he does well enough to get picked up in the Rule 5 draft by the Astros and pitches in a future World Series. Gavin, meanwhile, decides to give up baseball and do what his surname has always told him to do. Figuring if an idiot like the My Pillow guy can make a bundle selling bed linens on line, he can do even better. After he gets a deal from Mark Cuban on Shark Tank, sales of Gavin’s Sheets soar, bolstered by the ad, “Gavin’s Sheets are the healthiest you can buy — sleep between them and you’re guaranteed never to catch anything.”
Eloy Jiménez again will hit the ball as hard as anyone in baseball, with almost all going directly to infielders, who will throw him out by 60 feet because he’s upset and loafing. Chastised for that, Eloy will determine to run really hard every time, and, on the third try, will tear his Achilles and be out for the year.
No, that’s good. Learning his nickname is Big Baby and seeing his infectious smile, Gerber hires Eloy as their primary spokesman for all Spanish-speaking countries. He never tears any muscles again. The Sox meanwhile, just fill in with on of the dozen or so other designated hitters on the roster.
OFF THE FIELD AND INTO TV
The Sox haven’t managed to find a replacement for Jason Benetti, despite how hard they tried to lure Meghan Markle into the booth because she’s an ex-royal. They’ll end up with a play-by-play announcer who knows some baseball but is excruciatingly dull. Steve Stone will continue to do demonstrations of pitch grips and motions until one day he says, “To hell with it. They can’t throw it where they want anyway,” and refuses to do it any more.
No, that’s good. To fill in time, Stoney and the new guy work on many variations of the Nationwide jingle, get really, really good at it — the new guy is a terrific baritone — and are eventually heard by a showrunner from America’s Got Talent, where, during the semifinals, Simon Cowell says he’s never been so moved by a song with only five words.
This year there will be no reason to go to a White Sox game except to collect on a really big giveaway, and little reason to watch on on TV.
No, that’s good. It’s a splendid opportunity join those of us who have pledged not put a nickel into the White Sox coffers until Reinsdorf is no longer in charge. Saves a lot of time, money and aggravation.