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‘Internal interviews’ and … Nashville? White Sox fans keep getting reasons to focus on off-field matters
I was going to write about Lenyn Sosa.
In the time remaining in this lost season, the White Sox are apparently auditioning Sosa to be their second baseman of the future. He hit a big homer in Sunday’s game and got to stick on the active roster when Eloy Jiménez returned from the paternity list Monday. Pedro Grifol spoke about Sosa pregame, about what he’s seen from him in the few days since his return from the minors, and about the importance of giving him playing time down the stretch.
But focusing on on-the-field stuff just isn’t how the White Sox are allowing a beat writer to roll these days.
A 1-2 punch of reports over the last 48 hours grabbed everyone’s attention, the second time that has happened this month. If the fallout of the on-field fight in Cleveland crashing up against Keynan Middleton criticizing the team’s clubhouse culture seems like it was a million years ago, it wasn’t. It was like two weeks ago. It was earlier this month.
But we’re living that life all over again. And so that surely Pulitzer-winning rumination on Lenyn Sosa is going to have to wait.
First, there was Bob Nightengale writing in USA Today that the White Sox are conducting “internal interviews” to determine whether or not “dramatic changes” are necessary as the sand pours out of the hourglass that has been a miserable 2023 season. Does that mean Rick Hahn being removed from his post as GM? Does that mean hiring a fifth manager (if we’re counting interim skipper Miguel Cairo) in five years?
The whole thing seemed kind of overblown from the get-go, if I’m being honest. I read it as basically a description of performance reviews, the same kind of thing we deal with in all our jobs on a regular basis. And the White Sox passed along a message confirming those suspicions, saying that those meetings have been happening but that they’re not unusual or different from ones that have happened in seasons past.
But I’d barely returned to the press box when there was another off-the-field storm brewing. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that Jerry Reinsdorf is considering moving the White Sox away from Guaranteed Rate Field, where their lease expires six years from now. Six years is a long time — and it should be well noted that Crain’s reported that nothing is imminent on the decision-making front — but the team said it’s getting to be time to start having conversations about the future.
So this is my life now for the next few years, huh? Time to text Nick Moreano for tips on covering a stadium search.
Actually, that Bears comp might end up being a good one, considering Crain’s listed possible alternatives as elsewhere in the city or somewhere in the suburbs — as well as maybe even Nashville, Tenn.
The last one is obviously what caught fire on social media, and so here we go again. Reinsdorf and the White Sox famously threatened a move to Florida in the late 1980s, and it ended with them getting a publicly financed stadium across the street from their old one. With the current building approaching the apparently ancient age of 35 — the ballpark’s actually a year younger than I am, so thanks for making me feel old — it might be time to go home-shopping again.
As mentioned, we’re talking about a lease that’s still six years away from expiring, and plenty — everything — can change between now and then. Let’s not go crazy assuming there’s a closet somewhere full of already printed T-shirts and hats. It’s not until the concession stands start selling hot chicken sandwiches and every night becomes Country Music Night that anyone should be considering a Homer Simpson style hunger strike.
But it’s a story. And just like every story surrounding this team this month, it has to do with some negative issue that has nothing to do with the outcome of a baseball game and gets the compounding glare of a scorching spotlight because the team has played so poorly.
A season that was supposed to feature a team creating unforgettable memories of a chase for a championship has instead left the lasting images of Instagram stories about Mike Clevinger, Tim Anderson getting punched in the face, a (refuted) radio report about Yasmani Grandal slapping a teammate, Middleton accusing someone of sleeping in the bullpen (also refuted), my Twitter replies stuffed full of demands for Hahn and Pedro Grifol to lose their jobs and now a mulled move to Music City.
And that’s without mentioning everything that’s gone so wrong on the field to send the team careening toward what might finish as just the fifth 100-loss campaign in 123 seasons of South Side baseball.
It’s now reached the point where fans are discussing just how many seasons of South Side baseball are left.
I’m not saying it’s that dramatic, and given the history of pro teams looking for public money to build new stadiums, this perhaps shouldn’t even count as surprising.
But the White Sox can’t stop losing, on the field or off it, their battles on the non-baseball front this season going about as well as Monday’s 14-2 drubbing at the hands of the visiting Mariners.
As Hahn has, surely upsettingly, grown accustomed to explaining, nothing will fix what’s ailing the White Sox but winning. That’s true, and there would be far less of a “the White Sox keep getting in their own way” narrative if they were running away with the AL Central and planning for October instead of next April.
But considering there hasn’t been much winning, there’s nowhere to look but away from what’s happening on the field. If only the team would stop giving so many reasons for fans to be mad, no matter where they look.
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