The 2020 White Sox met their expiration at 6:19 PM on October 1st. Soxtober was a very short-lived one, but one that provided glimmers of hope for the future. The 6-4 loss at the hands of the Oakland Athletics wrapped up a strange season that was unlike any we've ever seen for a number of reasons.
The Bitter End
The defeat at the hands of the A's will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of everyone associated with the organization and fan base. The series in many ways served as a microcosm of the season overall for the South Siders.
In the Game 1 victory, we got a glimpse of just how good this team could be on any given day. With ace Lucas Giolito shutting down the Athletics offense and the Sox utilizing the long ball, it was easy to get excited about what this postseason could've been. Game 2 saw costly miscues with the glove and on the bases be their undoing, ultimately. It also displayed this team's uncanny ability to continue fighting for 27 outs, as they turned a 5-0 deficit into a game that was very much in question.
The deciding Game 3 saw the team again utilize the long ball and jump out to a 3-0 lead by the fourth inning, but they were unable to add on and put the A's away early when they had a chance. This was something we did see at various points throughout the year. The team again fought back in several situations tying the game, but they weren't able to get a key hit with runners in scoring position despite multiple opportunities against the A's bullpen. The aforementioned factors made the final four innings seem like a slow death march.
Ultimately, the team's lack of roster depth was on full display in Game 3 as they were forced to empty the bullpen to cover 27 outs in the first winner-take-all postseason game in franchise history. There was some bad luck mixed in there with the injury to rookie flamethrower Garrett Crochet that threw a monkey wrench into the team's plan for the game. The absence of a dependable third starter proved to be the downfall for this team as it was simply too much to ask of a young, inexperienced bullpen.
The hope is that this postseason will serve as a springboard to fully opening the contention window for this young core group. The experience of postseason baseball is one that should hopefully help this group take the next step in their overall development towards being a consistent contender.
Laying The Foundation
Overall, this season has to be viewed as a positive one. We saw glimpses of just how good the White Sox could be in the near future. Lucas Giolito isn't a one-year wonder, he's a true top-of-the-rotation arm. Tim Anderson cleaned up his defense and proved the doubters wrong that he isn't reliant on a fluky BABIP. Eloy Jimenez is a true middle-of-the-order masher. Jose Abreu continues to be a force and just a consummate professional. Dallas Keuchel was as advertised after coming to this team over the winter. Young players on the roster such as Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal, Dane Dunning, Codi Heuer, and Matt Foster all showed that they are going to be key pieces of this thing going forward and should continue to develop with additional experience.
There's definitely unfinished business with this roster if they are truly going to be a serious threat to win the American League in the coming years. There will be plenty of time to dissect the roster and how to address its glaring needs. But it shouldn't be lost on any of us that this was, indeed, the return of good, fun baseball to 35th/Shields. We've been deprived of that for so long and to finally have it back in our lives, albeit for only two months this year, proved to be a welcomed respite from all the other issues 2020 has dealt us.
As a fan base, we've been clamoring for a reason to have hope ever since the 2012 team ran out of gas in late September. We have that hope once again.
The Offseason Awaits
There's a level of fear and trepidation with how this team will proceed given comments that have already come out regarding a certain octogenarian's finances. It will be incumbent upon Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams to figure out how to navigate the constraints that are placed upon them to get this team to that next level.
There may not be a lot of holes to fill, but the ones that are there cannot be overlooked. I know we all collectively are hoping that 2020 won't turn out to simply be another example of that proverbial carrot being dangled.
The Big Takeaway
The 2020 White Sox provided us with fun baseball again for the first time in a long time. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of the fun times and moreover, here's to hoping that we can actually experience that fun again at the corner of 35th/Shields in 2021. This fan base is hungry and we are all chomping at the bit to get back into the ballpark and watch this group continue to develop before our eyes.
The end of your baseball team's season is always a somber one as we are left to stare the reality of the cold, harsh winter in the face as it rapidly approaches. This winter may not be as cold and as bleak as the 12 that have preceded it, however. The 2020 White Sox have given us several reasons to be optimistic. Farewell, friend, we'll see you again in 148 days for the Cactus League opener.