The instinct, brief as it might be, is to describe what’s happening to the White Sox as biblical, as if they’ve been visited by a series of plagues. But that would imply that the Sox are innocent bystanders instead of the cause of the locusts, the pestilence, the hail and the 28 games under .500.
OK, bullets landing in the bleachers at Guaranteed Rate Field the other night would seem to suggest that somebody up there hates the Sox, but, hey, you try being a higher power and watching this much bad baseball.
If it’s not one thing, it’s the other, almost all of it self-inflicted, the rest of it filed under the heading, “Only the Sox.’’ Two women in the left-field bleachers getting injured by those bullets is the most bizarre thing to happen in a most ludicrous season, but remember, there’s still more than a month left. What could go wrong?
Well, a lot, if the whole tragicomedy is still being overseen by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. He’s still in charge, as evidenced by the sudden presence of Tony La Russa, the former Sox manager now working as a consultant in the team’s search for someone to lead the front office after the recent, incredibly belated firings of Rick Hahn and Ken Williams. No one else but the mulish Reinsdorf would bring back a man many Sox fans despise. Many Sox fans despised the idea of La Russa when Reinsdorf hired him as manager in October 2020. La Russa was 76 and nine years removed from his last game as a manager when the chairman “discovered’’ him.
To now see photos of the jarringly un-dyed La Russa paired with the news that he’s been asked to give guidance to Reinsdorf … well, it’s almost too much. On the other hand, this would not be the time for the Sox to act normal, to act like other professional baseball teams. They do weird better than anyone.
As mentioned above, bad things don’t happen to the Sox. The Sox do bad things – consistently. To expect anything else is madness. It’s why almost no one thinks that whatever happens next will be good.
After a fine first season in 2021 with a young, talented club, La Russa eventually bowed out due to a terribly disappointing 2022 and health issues. Reinsdorf has done what he’s always done with the Sox and the Bulls, letting loyalty cloud his judgment. He hung on to Hahn and Williams well past their expiration dates. In professional sports, you pledge allegiance to winning, not to people. Jerry has never grasped that.
So, asking the question out loud: And these two guys, Reinsdorf and La Russa, are among the people who will pick the person to direct the Sox’ baseball side for years to come?
Again, what could go wrong?
What could go wrong for a franchise that hired a past-his-prime manager coming off DUI charges, that signed Mike Clevinger despite domestic violence accusations, that forgot how to play baseball, that failed at a rebuild that was teed up for them, that has no farm system to speak of?
I thought Tim Anderson challenging the Indians’ Jose Ramirez to a fight at second base earlier this month – and then getting dropped like a career club fighter – would stand as the metaphor for this down-and-out franchise. But then came Friday’s game, when the left-field bleachers became an active crime scene as the game against the Athletics continued on. Beer was sold. Cracker Jack was consumed. Nothing to see here, folks, including good baseball. Investigators don’t know if the gunshots came from inside or outside the ballpark. It was all so very Sox.
Anderson’s glassy eyes giving way to bull’s-eyes on the backs of two unlucky fans. Ladies and gentlemen, your Chicago White Sox.
The recent news that Reinsdorf might move the team may look like bad timing, given the current chaos, but I prefer to think of it as business as usual. For many Sox fans, being a follower of this franchise has meant a series of indignities. As Reinsdorf angles to get a better lease at Guaranteed Rate Field with the current one expiring in six years, what’s one more slap in the face?
The Sox are not a victim of circumstances, not even close. They’re the author of their own ugly story. In terms of inanity, they’re No. 1, with a bullet.