Eight years ago, the Chicago White Sox won 99 games. Paul Konerko smacked 40 homers, the pitching staff was reminiscent of the dead ball era and Carl Everett believed in dinosaurs.
What a difference eight years can make. Sadly, the only part of that statement that remains true this day is probably the last part.
The White Sox concluded what was not just a disappointment of a season on Sunday, but a full on disgrace. If you forced a normal sports fan to pick something to watch, the 2013 White Sox or your average college football game quarterbacked by Tommy Rees….I mean personally, I’d choose the George Lopez Show.
Okay, we get it. The White Sox were very, very bad this year. In fact, their 99 losses marked the exact opposite record submitted by the 2005 White Sox.
The question: Is that necessarily a bad thing? Does it really matter just how bad they were?
There are two schools of thought. The first, and most likely we’ll see from Rick Hahn and his band of deviants, is the 2013 Cleveland Indians approach.
The Indians are headed to the playoffs this year, fresh off a 94-loss season in 2012. The Tribe re-built the new fashioned way that is really starting to become the old fashioned way with player development now being stressed more than ever. They overpayed for marginal talent and hired a new manager.
The marginal talent can be summarized by Nick Swisher and his .756 OPS, and the manager goes by the name of Terry Francona. Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis enjoyed breakout years, the bullpen was competent and most importantly, they got to beat up on the White Sox almost 20 times.
Kidding on the last part. But in theory, the White Sox might not be as far away as you would think.
Maybe Avisail Garcia and Dayan Viciedo break out in 2014. The White Sox sign former UIC Flame and hometown kid Curtis Granderson, who regains his 40 home run form. The pitching stays consistent, and Robin Ventura manages not only his squad but also manages to stay awake for the entire 162 game grind.
If only it were that easy.
Yes, the 2013 Cleveland Indians happened. But the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays also happened, as did the 2013 Los Angeles Angels. Building through free agency in major league baseball as we currently know it isn’t only foolish, it’s comically outdated.
Hence, the reason why losing 99 games isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. The White Sox were so bad that they will have the No. three overall pick in the 2014 draft, higher than they’ve ever had since Hawk Harrelson could recite Carl Yazstremski’s career statistics backwards.
As frustrating as it may be, the Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles built their franchises the right way. From the ground up.
Give White Sox fans some credit. Perhaps they realize that being the Milwaukee Bucks of major league baseball is really nothing a brag about, but being the Oklahoma City Thunder could be. While embarrassing, bottoming out isn’t necessarily the worst thing for the franchise.
The only aspect of the White Sox that remains the same as it was eight years ago, you ask?
Paul Konerko. He’s the only remnant of the ’05 White Sox.
And as sacreligious, almost as it may seem, even that is probably going to have to chance some time soon.