I turned on the radio in the car yesterday and heard Spiegel and Goff, two of my favorites in Chicago sports radio, and Matt Spiegel was talking about an article by Jayson Stark on ESPN.com that was estimating the massive groundswell of Cubs fans that are going to be appearing, who would be fueled by the uniqueness that is this Cubs team, in this market, with the brand they’ve always had now lifted to celebrity status, all mixed together with the social media-centric world we live in. Not to mention the way this team and its manager all embrace the limelight and look great doing it, and it’s not hard to see how all of these factors could come together to create an explosion of new Cubs fans.
For the Chicago White Sox, this Cubs explosion is the perfect backdrop for a rebuild.
I’d imagine that Sox fans are in a dark place right now. I don’t say that to pile on at all, I say that because listening to the radio I sometimes cringe with just how overblown the Cubs thing has become. Immediately following the World Series I couldn’t get enough, I soaked in all of that Cubs glory and basked in the warmth of their reflective glow for at least the next week and probably longer. But now we’re at the point where, while I still smile to myself often just thinking about it, I’m also sensitive to the fact that I don’t want the Cubs to be shoved into unsuspecting fans faces all offseason long. Jayson Stark put it best saying:
The most significant postseason of modern times didn’t just crown a champion, bust a curse and leave millions of Americans wondering what they could do to get that “Go Cubs Go” song out of their heads.
I will continue to celebrate this World Series win for the rest of my life, but right now I’d rather turn the page to 2017 and figure out how this team can repeat as champions.
Which in a roundabout way brings me back to the White Sox. Ever since their World Series Championship in 2005, the Sox have tried to put a winning product on the field every single year. What more could fans ask for? That’s a valid question, and in a vacuum many fans would take just that from their team’s ownership. It’s clear to see in this case though, that trying to put a winner on the field year in and year out has only crippled this White Sox organization, which refuses to tear the team down to the studs and start over.
If ever there was a time for a rebuild on the South Side, that time is now. Like it or not, there are going to be plenty of bandwagon Cubs fans who may have been wearing White Sox hats a couple years ago. It happened to the Cubs when the Sox won the World Series in 2005 and I’m sure it’s happening all over again right now. The eyes of Chicagoans are firmly affixed on the Cubs right now, which should make it that much easier for the White Sox to sell off their assets, and they do have a fair amount, and rebuild around a core of young players that their fan base can get excited about.
What do the Sox have to lose right now? The real baseball fans that support this team will wholeheartedly be on board as they saw first hand what it did on the North Side. The Cubs aren’t going anywhere, so there is no reason for the White Sox to feel as though they have to compete with the Cubs for attention. Now is the perfect time for Sox fans to give their team a license to be bad, while in return the team can give the fans a semblance of hope for the future.
Chris Sale is a great pitcher, and would have looked fantastic atop a White Sox World Series rotation. While there is still a slim chance of that happening, you don’t gamble on a slim chance if you’re trying to build an organization, and fans should understand that. Jose Abreu was a great signing at under market value–now go cash in on that well thought out investment.
Those two assets alone would go a long way in building up a base of young talent, and when you combine that with the return on Todd Frazier, and to a lesser extent, Melky Cabrera and closer David Robertson, all of a sudden there could be a young core of players built around Tim Anderson that fans can truly be excited about on the South Side.
Jason Goff was saying how the White Sox and Bears are now on notice and I agree, but it’s completely different in both sports. While both teams need new coaches and have acceptable-for-now front offices, it’s a lot easier to turn things around in the NFL and the Bears do have some pieces to be excited about. The White Sox, on the other hand, shouldn’t take being put on notice to mean that they need to go win now. They just need to ensure that once this Cubs team is on the back half of whatever run they hope to be on, that there will be a White Sox team on the other side of town, one that the die-hards have known about for awhile, and one that will be in a position to embrace a brand new generation of fans.