Lucas Giolito delivers to a Tampa Bay Rays hitter. Photo by Kevin Kenealy.
Well, the baseball season is finally here and although I am disgusted that the millionaires and billionaires bickered so long over a contract, I am looking forward to having something to watch other than all of the depressing news going on in the world.
If you're a White Sox fan, you have been looking forward to this season for quite some time. And then we had to play this frustrating waiting game to see if we would even have a season. Now that we do, this year seems to be even more advantageous to the White Sox. The list below are my reasons why.
1) Pitching Depth
The White Sox are now able to carry a possible three more healthy arms that they were not able to have in March. Michael Kopech, Daniel Dunning, and Carlos Rodon are all ready to go, giving the Sox not only a much-needed boost, but an added excitement from a fan point of view. We don't have to wait half a season to watch these guys come on to see what they can do. Can Kopech deliver on his top prospect hype? Can Rodon redeem his injury ridden career and stay healthy? What role will these guys now play in an already stacked Sox rotation that includes the additions of Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel? Whatever spot they do fill, it will be worth the time to watch them, and it is worth having more pitching for the short season ahead.
2) The 60 Game Season
Remember the year a few years back when the Sox got off to a hot start and were in first place through May? They ended up well out of the playoff race with a losing record that year, but that confirms the idea that a hot start can ensure a slot in the added 10-team playoff.
3) The added roster
With MLB allowing teams to carry 30 players on opening day through the 15th game of the season, then to 28, and finally to 26, the Sox can reach into their still heavy farm system to pull out guys like Yermin Mercedes and Andrew Vaughn to fill spots that did not make the 26th man team out of Spring Training. With the farm system the Sox still have, this can only benefit the Sox over most of the teams in the league.
4) The new schedule
Since the Sox will only play against teams from the Midwest, it cancels out a number of teams that they historically struggle against, such as the Oakland A's. The new schedule is a lot more difficult with a whole new host of playoff teams coming over from the NL Central, but it will also make things more interesting for the much-improved White Sox.
5) Fan Support
The White Sox are one of the few teams in baseball that have said that there is a strong possibility of playing to fans at some point this season. There is a huge benefit to playing before a home crowd versus playing to an empty stadium. When fans show up to support their team, it gives them an added edge and energy to outperform the other team. Although I am still slighted against both the players and the owners over their labor dispute, I still think a good amount of fans will come out to the ballpark to get their minds off all of the hard times going on in the world. And that can only benefit the White Sox.
So there you have it. The Sox already greatly improved their team and arguably won the offseason this past year. They were poised to be competitive this season and have a winning record. Now, they are in a good position to make the playoffs. It should be an interesting season. I will be watching to see how it all unfolds. Play ball!