3:34 PM CDT, July 31, 2013
The magic of baseball is it brings out the kid in all of us. Given that, I'm channeling fond memories of "Sesame Street" in saying this perspective on the White Sox's 2013 season is brought to you by the letter "R."
The word that was once forbidden by Kenny Williams in describing the Sox's direction is now a reality smacking even the most Soxtimistic of fans right in the face. The focus should be on becoming playoff moguls. We want an empire worthy of nicknaming our GM Genghis Hahn.
By season's end it will be five years since the South Side last saw postseason baseball. Even after the trades of Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain, the Sox should be far from finished in attempting to shed bad contracts and worse players. One bright side is it should garner at least a top-five draft pick, an excellent starting point in rebuilding a farm system that strikes out in producing quality hitters more than Adam Dunn whiffs at the plate.
"R" is for Rookie …
… like "C" is for cookie, and that's good enough for me, and for most Sox fans. Remember the excitement Josh Phegley's promotion generated? The buzz felt when Chris Sale threw his first fastball at the Cell? The Sox need to become Rookie Monsters, cultivating homegrown talent fans can build allegiance behind. Mark Buehrle, Ron Kittle and even Robin Ventura weren't fan favorites because they had Hall of Fame careers. It's because they rose through the system and then produced for years.
Sox fans won't admit it, but they see the foundation the Cubs are building and it has us more nervous than Oscar the Grouch on garbage pickup day. Why? Since 2005, we have been able to give Cubs fans the finger—the World Series ring finger—whenever debate over the better team begins. While we might not always show it at the turnstiles, Sox fans are insanely committed to the team and have proudly boasted our superiority for eight years. The thought of surrendering that dominance hurts more than Ernie losing his rubber ducky.
At least no player on the 2013 Sox was mentioned in the same breath as PEDs or Biogenesis. Even if the team's record has you wishing you shared the same season-ending suspensions as Ryan Braun or A-Rod, you can take pride in every Alexei Ramirez error, Alex Rios base-running blunder or (insert any player's name here) failure to score, that it was achieved without cheating. Two more months of baseball at the Cell? I'm more tickled than Elmo.
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