When the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees meet for the MLB Field of Dreams game Thursday night, a Midwest fantasy will come true in more ways than one.
A stadium constructed adjacent to the site of the famous 1989 film will play host to the first-ever MLB game in Iowa, and it's shaping up to be just as picturesque as the movie itself.
The White Sox will also look the part of Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson and his teammates emerging from the cornfields, as the South Siders and Bronx Bombers will both wear 1919-style throwback uniforms for this special event.
Both of the aforementioned visual elements will certainly help bring the spirit of the movie to life. It wouldn't come as a surprise if FOX utilizes recognizable clips and quotes from the film to enhance their TV broadcast of the game as well.
The enthusiasm surrounding this historic undertaking will spread far beyond just the White Sox and Yankee fan bases rooting for their respective teams, however. Due to the motion picture's widespread popularity and baseball lovers' affinity for it, households across America will surely be enthralled as big-league teams square off in a setting packed with nostalgia.
Tugging on the Heartland's Heartstrings
Just like the film, the Field of Dreams game will feature storylines that hit close to home. In particular, one of the most compelling narratives centers around the home team's starting pitcher: Lance Lynn.
Born and raised in the Indianapolis area, Lynn is a product of the heartland. He's played for Midwest teams at several stages of his baseball journey, beginning with representing Brownsburg, Indiana at the 1999 Little League World Series.
At Brownsburg High School, Lynn earned Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year honors and pitched to a 16-0 record with a 0.71 ERA in 2005, which helped lead his team to a 36-0 record and a 4A State Championship.
Lynn made a detour to the Southeast for the next chapter of his baseball story when he attended Ole Miss for college. After posting a 22-12 record and 3.95 ERA for the Rebels, the MLB Draft brought him back to the Midwest when the St. Louis Cardinals selected him with the 39th overall pick in 2008.
Across six seasons for the Cardinals, Lynn went 72-47 with a 3.38 ERA, made one All-Star appearance (2012), and added a World Series ring (2011) to his trophy case.
One-year stints with the Twins and Yankees preceded a stop in Texas, where Lynn showed the league why he's a top pitcher in the game across two seasons with the Rangers. In 2019 and 2020, Lynn finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in American League Cy Young voting while accumulating a 22-14 record and 3.57 ERA.
In December of 2020, an offseason trade brought Lynn to the South Side of Chicago, where he would become an instant fan favorite and a perfect fit for the White Sox. Despite donning the black and white for just over half a season, the big right-hander's bulldog mentality and veteran presence have proven to be just what the White Sox needed.
Lynn introduced himself to the South Side faithful by tossing a complete-game shutout in the team's 2021 home opener. Fans surely appreciated such a dominant performance as they returned to Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time since 2019, but they especially gravitated toward Lynn's energetic mound presence and accompanying antics.
"I think that some of my things that I do on the mound really sit well with the South Siders," Lynn told reporters in late June. "Living in the suburbs of (the) Indianapolis area, the South Side has a tendency to be a little bit more of a home feeling for me than any other place I’ve played. I’m really enjoying it."
As the season progressed, Lynn continued to impose his will on the mound and energize fans with his emotional reactions. He earned All-Star honors after pitching to a 9-3 record and 1.99 ERA during the first half of the season.
After nearly every start the righty made, White Sox fans petitioned the team on social media to "EXTEND LANCE LYNN". That collective wish finally came true shortly after the All-Star break when the White Sox and Lynn agreed on a two-year, $38 million contract extension with a club option for the 2024 season.
As fans rejoiced, Lynn reciprocated the love. "There’s no point going into free agency if you know where you want to be," the right-hander said of the extension.
With Lynn locked up for years to come, the White Sox focus now shifts toward a playoff run with World Series aspirations. The dog days of summer are here, and the South Siders are about to embark on a tough 14-game stretch that will give them a taste of what's to come in October.
This portion of the schedule begins with the aforementioned Field of Dreams game, which will put the White Sox on a national stage against a Yankees team that is currently fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot.
The White Sox clearly want to put their best foot forward in this contest, evidenced by manager Tony La Russa resting several starters in Wednesday's series finale at Minnesota. On the pitching side, La Russa initially named Carlos Rodon the starter for the Field of Dreams game following Saturday's contest against the Cubs.
Rodon, who is enjoying an outstanding season of his own, would have been an exceptional option to start this highly touted game. However, the best-laid plans can change in the blink of an eye. And that's exactly what happened Wednesday afternoon when the White Sox announced a slew of roster moves that included Rodon heading to the 10-day injured list due to left shoulder fatigue.
That injury news shuffled the White Sox pitching plans. Lynn was originally scheduled to start the series finale vs. the Twins, but La Russa called upon Reynaldo Lopez to make a spot start instead.
The result? Lance Lynn, a Midwestern boy now playing for a Midwest team that "has a little bit more of a home feeling" for him, will take the mound amidst the cornfields at the Field of Dreams, an iconic staple of baseball in the Midwest.
Some things are just meant to be.