Chicago White Sox fans have been on a roller coaster for so long now, and that wild ride continued throughout the 2020 season. Unfortunately, it ended with an early exit at the hands of the Oakland Athletics in a best-of-three Wild Card Round series. That exit resulted in several elongated reactions on social media.
As the MLB Postseason rolls on, I continue to see Sox faithful compare the team to the Houston Astros, whom the Athletics faced in the American League Division Series. That part is normal. I think every fan base looks at the team that holds what could have been their spot in the next round, but the amount of emotion that I’ve seen behind all of it is quite alarming. Look, I understand, we’ve all been waiting for a competitive White Sox team for so long, and the fashion in which the White Sox were eliminated doesn’t exactly sit well with anyone. However, there are so many factors that played into the Sox first-round exit that should be the points of focus instead.
First off, regardless of what you thought of Ricky Renteria’s managerial decisions in that third game, you have to admit that it was a tough situation to manage. Think about it, your planned starter couldn’t even get through a complete inning in a winner-take-all game. I wouldn’t put too much weight behind that. Dane Dunning is a rookie and, like most of the club, hadn’t experienced the playoffs before this season.
Renteria’s second option was another rookie, Garrett Crochet. I’ll admit, I was critical of Don Cooper after the young lefty got pulled from the game with forearm soreness, but an injury to someone who was healthy beforehand is unpredictable. Fast forward to when Renteria swapped Carlos Rodon for Matt Foster with the bases loaded. I think this might be the only decision that can be picked apart, but again, all of this is new for the Sox and can be deemed a learning experience.
Secondly, the White Sox scratched and clawed without Eloy Jimenez for the most part. Jimenez was such an integral part of the team’s lineup during the regular season. Say what you want about Eloy’s fielding, but his productivity at the plate compensates for those blunders.
My point being, the Sox were able to get to three games with Leury Garcia in the outfield — a guy who hadn’t played a baseball game since the beginning of August and was immediately thrust into a playoff scenario.
Finally, as alluded to earlier, the number of players on this roster who hadn’t seen the playoffs before this season is overwhelming. Go down the White Sox roster and you can probably count on one hand who has been in the postseason before.
Mistakes were bound to happen. Playoff jitters were going to be present even without fans. Managerial decisions were going to go sideways. Winning playoff games, let alone a World Series, is one of the hardest things to do in sports. You’ve got to find it within yourself to remain optimistic about this team and remember that this was just the first year of the White Sox contention window. Experience is a huge factor in October, and that will accumulate over time as this team grows into itself.
I don’t want to come off as someone telling you how to channel your emotions, but the way I see it, the Sox beat themselves that series with their inexperience and mistakes despite being a better team than Oakland on paper. The good news? Those bumps flatten out over time. Take a breath, crack a beer, and continue to back this team because they’re one of the most exciting young groups in Major League Baseball.