We’ll always have Kansas City: Matt Davidson made a BIG impression on the Royals to start 2018. (@MLBTradeRumors)
March 28, 1981 The Sox dealt pitcher Ken Kravec to the Cubs for pitcher Dennis Lamp. Over the next three seasons Lamp would do everything for the club … start, pitch long relief, close games. He’d toss a one-hitter against Milwaukee on August 25, losing his no-hitter in the ninth inning when Robin Yount blooped a double. Lamp would then lead the “Winnin’ Ugly” 1983 Western Division champion White Sox with 15 saves.
March 29, 2018 The earliest Opening Day in history at that time turned out to be a record-setting day for the White Sox, who blasted Kansas City, 14-7. The Sox tied the record for most Opening Day home runs by hitting six at Kauffman Stadium. (The 1988 Mets also hit six, against the Montreal Expos.) Matt Davidson became the fourth player in history to hammer three home runs on Opening Day, as he went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and five RBIs. Tim Anderson had two home runs and drove in three, with José Abreu hitting the other home run. Yolmer Sánchez also drove in three for the White Sox.
Effervescent engagement editor Ashley Sanders hops on the podcast with Brett Ballantini to talk (natch) the dear, departed Yolmer Sánchez. Also, learn about Ashley’s road to Sox fandom and persistent tryout for a “boys” baseball All-Star team. Finally, we wrap with some Cactus talk, including the amazing February of Yermín Mercedes and Carson Fulmer’s last stand.
Juicy, or flat? The ball itself could have a major impact on how well the retooled White Sox succeed in 2020. (Rawlings)
Leigh Allan hops on the podcast to talk about the 2020 offseason with Brett Ballantini. Could the defense hold the White Sox back, or that imposing K/BB ratio? Did the team losing out on Manny Machado or Bryce Harper empower this past offseason’s successes? And how will the ball — yes, the physical baseball, which played like a beach ball during the 2019 regular season — impact the South Siders?
Sure, it was a meaningless game, but it was also the last time the White Sox ended a season with a record better than .500. That wasn’t particularly inspiring at the time, because the White Sox had led the division until a week before, but looking back, a mere September collapse was the best of times. Plus, the score was significant — 9-0 being the official score of a baseball forfeit, given that the Sox would as good as forfeit the rest of the decade. The game itself had its moments – Gavin Floyd pitched seven innings of three-hit ball for his 12th victory of the season; Paulie and Dayan Viciedo hit dingers; the immortal Dan Johnson slammed three homers and picked up five RBIs, bringing his season total to six; and Adam Dunn improved the game significantly by not playing. (Yeah, yeah, that was his 41-homer year. So what?) — Leigh Allan
There were two games that immediately jumped to mind, one sad, another happy. The sad one came in September 2011 in Kansas City, when manager Ozzie Guillén and I, both of us sensing it would be our last days together before setting off into other endeavors beyond the White Sox, sat alone and commiserated over our fates and futures for about 20 minutes in the visiting manager’s office of Kauffman Stadium. But I’m choosing the happier one, instead. And that game is a June win in Chicago, my first game on the White Sox beat. I was a week or so from riding in the Blackhawks Stanley Cup parade, finishing up my one-and-done year on that beat before jumping right into the White Sox job for CSN Chicago. I’d covered the White Sox before, but never as a permanent job, and after writing stories for the beat-less Comcast during the Hawks playoff run — some even on a Blackberry after my netbook exploded in San Jose — I sort of forced my way into a dream job on the White Sox beat. It was the start of a two-year run with the team that was hard as hell, but a glorious and lucky time for me. I recall no details of the game beyond an early offensive assault and the win pushing the team over .500, but I hopped on the beat with the White Sox in the midst of a six-game winning streak, and from there my pugnacious prose helped compel the club to jump from third to first place during a 14-5 run (20 of 25 wins overall) that made me think, briefly, that after a first Stanley Cup in 49 years and now a 20-5 run with my new Chicago team, I was some sort of lucky charm. Of course, I was proven wrong by September 2010, but this season — and this game — will always be a magical memory for me. — Brett Ballantini
White Sox 4, Tigers 3 July 23, 2016
It was a day that was supposed to feature a cool retro jersey: the 1976 navy pajama top. Me and a group of friends normally went to the cool promotional games — the Hawaiian shirt games, jersey giveaways, steins, etc. — because the promotions have been the best thing about the Sox the past decade. If it is a cool promotion, we will be there. So, we mainly went to that game in July for the giveaway, but with the trade deadline nearing, we also understood it could be Chris Sale’s last game at Sox Park. While we were in line waiting to get into the park among what was a pretty good crowd, we all got phone alerts via Twitter, multiple reports coming in that Sale would not be starting the game. Immediately, we all turned to each other and asked if he was traded. As the line got moving, more and more fans were looking at their phones and turning to their group, all equally confused.
Now, my friends and I wanted a rebuild (and still support it), so we were giddy that a potential trade was in the works. A pitcher scratched from a start in late July surely made it seem like a trade was imminent. As confusion permeated the lines and the stadium, we collected our retro jerseys at the turnstiles and went upstairs to our seats. Looking back now, we should have noticed something obvious: The Sox were not wearing the 1976 jerseys, they instead were in the 1983s. But we did not think anything of it at the time (you can say we were stupid, and I will admit we were/are). As game time grew closer, the story became clear: Chris Sale was not traded; he threw a temper tantrum. He cut up the jerseys the Sox were supposed to wear on that day.
Once that information found its way to our laps, we all just laughed and laughed. In the same year where the Sox had the Drake Laroche debacle, another White Sox childish display was the talk of baseball. Because Sale did not start, Robin Ventura had to go to an impromptu bullpen day, and the bullpen did very well: Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson went all-out to get through the day and on to the next. The Tigers were able to put up three runs in eight innings, including a blown save by Jones. Meanwhile, the Sox offense did just enough. Avisaíl García drove in two runs through the first eight innings, with a home run. Dioner Navarro doubled in another run. It was a rainy day by the end of the game, so we left before the game was suspended after the eighth inning, and we did not go back for the ninth the next day, when Adam Eaton ended the game with an RBI single.
But the game was really a second act on the day: The real story was Sale’s. He ended up being suspended for five games, missing one turn in the rotation. But looking back now, that day must have made it much easier for the front office to trade him in the upcoming offseason. For me and my friends, we do not remember much about the game, but we all have vivid memories of the shock we all had once the true story came out, punctuated by the team wearing 1983s instead of 1976s.
The 2016 team was not all that bad, but it was the most embarrassing season to be a Sox fan in recent memory. This game was the exclamation point. — Darren Black
The youngest Gore scored his first-ever White Sox game at the tail end of 2019. (Leonard Gore)
White Sox 5, Angels 1 Sept. 8, 2019
Since nothing of any baseball importance happened during the seven years of the decade a White Sox fan was the POTUS, I’ll go with a personal choice that just snuck in under the wire. Sept. 8, 2019 was a completely forgettable and insignificant Sox 5-1 win over a Trout-less Angels team. José Abreu homered; Danny Mendick homered (the first of his career!); Dylan Cease was wild (of course); and every starter got a hit except for Adam Engel (of course-of course). But what made it most memorable for me was the fact that it was my son’s first ever White Sox game! And frankly, I didn’t spend much time watching this game because I was happy to have him with me. We watched a couple of innings, met Ron Kittle outside the park (of course-of course-of-course), and spent most of the game in the Fundamentals Kids Zone in left field doing all the baseball activities over and over. My dad and brother also were there, so it was three generations of Gore boys to enjoy a day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. — Leonard Gore
I don’t actually remember what happened in this game, a day game to end a miserable, 99-loss season. I suspect no other White Sox fan recalls anything interesting about this game, either. There was nothing memorable on the field that day. My scorecard tells me a few things: Jose Quintana didn’t pitch badly, scattering six hits —unfortunately, two of those hits were home runs after giving up walks. He typically got no offensive support, with Alexei Ramírez scoring the only Sox run with a dinger in the fourth inning. The scorecard also shows that I stopped keeping score midway through the seventh.
Baseball-Reference fills in the rest for me: Game time was 2:34, attendance 22,633. The day before, the White Sox had won for the first time in five games, ensuring that fans wouldn’t endure 100 losses. It was a sweet fall day, 68 degrees and cloudy, with a 9 mph wind out to center field. In my memory, the day is warmer and sunnier, but memory is tricky like that.
This game from the 2010s will always stand out starkly in my mind because it was my father’s last. He would die three weeks later. (Among the many thoughts going through my head at that time was, absurdly, “At least he didn’t have to watch 100 losses.”)
White Sox staff got Dad a wheelchair, helped him to our right field section, and assisted my mother in settling him into a seat, showing nothing but kindness during it all. Dad’s handwriting is there on my scorecard, guessing 18,793 for that day’s attendance (beating my guess by 419 and waxing Mom by more than 4,000). We sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and then left. Dad was sick, and the Sox clearly weren’t going to win anyway. Even in his pain, Dad probably would have insisted on staying if they’d been in the lead. By this point in his illness, the various surgeries had made it difficult for Dad to speak. It frustrated him, a man of ideas and eloquence. It frustrated me, who had always wanted to hear what my father had to say. But the universe gave us both one last gift on that otherwise unmemorable day. In the first inning, a waft of polish sausage and onions drifts our way from a nearby stand, and a vendor walks by trailing the scent of popcorn. That 9 mph wind sends the smell of outfield grass into the air. My father breathes deeply, turns to me, and with great effort says, “It smells like baseball.” — Laura Jansen (Lurker Laura)
White Sox 9, Rays 6 April 25, 2014
Looking for the best White Sox game of the decade was no easy task. But after digging through the dumpster fire of the last decade that was White Sox baseball, I stumbled across April 25, 2014, an evening affair against the Rays that produced some nice fireworks.
Cut to the top of the ninth at U.S. Cellular Field, as Evan Longoria smashed a two-run dinger off of Matt Lindstrom to straightaway center field, breaking a 4-4 tie. Things were looking grim for the Sox, but they got through the rest of the inning unscathed. Then in the bottom of the ninth, with two on and one out, Paul Konerko walked to load the bases. Adam Eaton was up next, and narrowly avoided hitting into a double play to end the game, just beating out the throw at first as a run scored. Grant Balfour then walked Marcus Semien to load the bases once again, setting the stage for José Abreu.
Abreu did not disappoint, smashing a walk-off grand slam into the bullpen in right center field, his second dinger of the game. Ballgame!!! This game set the stage for six years of heroics from José, as he’s been the star who has shined the brightest during that time for the White Sox. — Scott Reichard (guitarsox)
The Tank and The Donkey, celebrating the moments of their lives.
The White Sox were fresh off a sweep of the mighty New York Yankees, who finished the season with the best record in the American League. So things were looking up for the White Sox, who held a two-game lead in the AL Central. The mediocre Mariners visited The Cell, and the White Sox broke through early and often against starter Jason Vargas. Even free agent bust Adam Dunn went deep, as the White Sox chased Vargas from the game after only four innings, leading 6-2 when Vargas departed. The White Sox tacked on one more against the bullpen to take a 7-2 lead.
Meanwhile, Jake Peavy settled in nicely, allowing only two runs in seven innings. Matt Thornton took care of business in a drama-free eighth inning, and it appeared the Mariners would go down quietly. However, the ninth inning was far from drama-free. Robin Ventura made an odd decision to have Philip Humber start the ninth inning. Though Humber had thrown a perfect game a few months earlier, his performance between the perfect game and this outing was rough: a 6.67 ERA and .284/.363/.518 slash against him. Ventura’s strange decision did not pay off on this warm, August night, as Humber’s struggles continued: a leadoff home run and walk before departing with one out. In to pitch stepped Donnie Veal, who allowed a double to the first and only batter he faced.
But, it was OK, as the White Sox still led 7-3, and Seattle’s tying run was still on deck. Addison Reed, who came in to pitch after Veal, had room for error. Unfortunately, Reed could not get the job done, allowing four of his first five hitters to reach base safely, and the final hit was costly. John Jaso’s single gave the Mariners an 8-7 lead and took the wind out of many fans’ sails.
Luckily, the White Sox offense woke back up, as they solved Seattle’s Tom Wilhelmsen. Kevin Youkilis hit an RBI single to tie the game, and Paul Konerko won it with a base hit into right-center to score Dewayne Wise. This was the wildest game I have ever seen in person, and I am thankful that I was able to attend. In the bottom of the eighth, one of my friends was wondering aloud if we should take off early and beat the traffic. Mercy, I sure am glad that we did not listen. — Joe Resis
OK, so this clip doesn’t feature the Yolmer Homer, but it does include a Yolmer two-bagger and a cameo from our own traveling win streak, Ashley Sanders.
White Sox 9, Rays 2 July 19, 2019
Although it has been a very disappointing decade for the Chicago White Sox, there have been many games worth celebrating. For my favorite game of the 2010s, like many of us I’m picking among games I attended. Of those 29 games, July 19, 2019 in St. Pete against the Tampa Bay Rays is my reigning favorite. A 9-2 squelching of Tampa Bay included a Yolmer Homer — and those are legendary! Reynaldo López pitched seven innings, the Sox tallied 17 hits, and it was an electric victory that ended a seven-game losing streak. Whenever the pitching and hitting are so in sync, it creates an all-around fantastic game! — Ashley Sanders
Tough break: Frare lost his spot in the South Side bullpen with a rough 2019. Now, he’s lost his spot in the organization itself. (Topps)
The top headline today came first, as the White Sox announced they had reached an agreement with arbitration-eligible catcher James McCann on a $5.4 million deal for 2020. The now-backup backstop more than doubled his 2019 salary, perhaps fair even in light of his diminished role post-Grandal, as McCann was an All-Star and one of the few bright lights on offense last year.
Also this afternoon, Thyago Vieira was released from the 40-man roster in order to sign a contract to pitch for the NPB’s Yomiuri Giants.
Then, things got interesting.
Bullpen mainstay in 2018 Caleb Frare and TJS rehabbing bright light in the 2019 pen Ryan Burr both were refused contracts by the White Sox. This removes them from the 40-man roster. While there’s a chance Burr, injured, will re-sign on the South Side, the likelihood that Frare won’t receive significant interest around the league is almost nil.
Yolmer Sánchez, already DFA’d last week, did not receive a contract offer from the White Sox, either.
The losses of Vieira, Burr and Frare reduce the 40-man roster to 36, which fuels speculation for a move — or a series of moves — this week.
Four players were offered contracts, putting them on track for arbitration hearings next year to determine final salaries (MLBTR arbitration estimates in parenthesis):
Alex Colomé ($10,300,000)
Leury García ($4,000,000)
Evan Marshall ($1,300,000)
Carlos Rodón ($4,500,000)
Losing Frare reduces the number of MLB-ready bullpen southpaws to just Aaron Bummer and Jace Fry, so surely something must be cooking in Rick Hahn’s kitchen. With free agent bullpen lefty options already reduced to almost nil, perhaps there is a crafty Rule 5 or DFA snag Hahn has in mind, if not a trade.
As our James Fox pointed out, all three of these pitchers being cut on the same day signals a strikeout for the Sox system, even if all three players were lottery tickets:
The #WhiteSox traded $3 million in international bonus pool space for Ryan Burr, Caleb Frare and Thyago Vieira. They were all released from the 40-man today. That money couldn't be spent and the deals were fine at the time but that's not a great use of resources in hindsight.
Lady Justice is blindfolded: Too few Sox defenders play like they’re not.
He would have earned odes from Shakespeare and Holmer, But there’s not a damned thing that rhymes with Yolmer.
Friends, Sox fans and roster planners, I come not to bury Yolmer, but to praise him … noted baseball analyst Mark Antony, after others stuck knives in the back of the person in question
There is something rotten in dem marks made by fans crafting offseason plans for the White Sox. Well, maybe a lot rotten, and a lot more idle wishing, but one thing has stood out to me this time around — almost no one wants to tender Yolmer Sánchez.
I never embarrass myself by making one of those projections, because almost everyone who participates in Sox blogs is more knowledgeable than I, and because my list of critical non-tenders would start with Jerry Reinsdorf, then work its way through KennyRick, Don Cooper, and the entire scouting and player development departments. It wouldn’t even make it to players until page four.
Oh, a few want to non-tender Yolmer and then sign him for $15.95 and a couple of Kit Kat bars, but mostly it’s “let him go, Nick Madrigal will be Rogers Hornsby and Jackie Robinson all in one package.” Now, if the Sox can make a deal ahead of time with Sr. Sánchez and avoid the whole tendering thing, great, but taking a chance on losing him over a few bucks is, well, very White Soxy. That’s losing him with no gain. The smart move is to keep Yolmer until you find out Madrigal is all he’s advertised to be, and some contender will give up a nice prospect or two for a 27-year-old defensive wiz next summer. And even with Madrigal around, Yolmer could make a nice late-inning defensive replacement at short if the D there stays as it has been.
The Sánchez tender is at $6 million. That’s a whole bunch of money in real life, but the very lowest estimates have a point of WAR worth about $4 million, and Yolmer hasn’t been under 2.0 WAR since he was a part-timer in 2016. That’s serious value-added. If the Sox got that from everyone, we’d all be talking about how the World Series went.
As for Madrigal, there’s every reason to believe he’ll eventually be really good. But he’s not there yet, and he’s unlikely to even be on the roster when the 2020 season starts. In the meantime, do you really want to watch even worse schlock defense than the Sox already provide, or would you rather watch this?
Let’s face it — the White Sox are hard to watch when they’re at bat, but are truly unwatchable on defense. They have two players who are any good in the field — Golden Glover Yolmer and one-time Golden Glove finalist Adam Engel. Well, OK, James McCann came in at 1.4 dWAR, but catchers are like umpires: They squat, wear lots of padding, and when doing a really good job, you don’t even notice they’re there. So the watchable defenders are Sánchez and Engel.
(One thing it’s hard to blame KennyRick for is that the only two solid fielders who should come to the majors next year — Madrigal and Luis Robert — will replace the only two good fielders they already have. It may be the only thing it’s hard to blame them for.)
Yolmer is even more amazing when you consider he has a terrible fielder to his left, a very shaky one to his right, and apparently a fan picked at random before the game behind him. Without Yolmer, Tim Anderson would have run away with the Most Errors in MLB championship. Oh, wait — he did, anyway. Well, TA would have won it by a lot more.
(As for the inaction to his left, almost every offseason plan says the Sox are desperate for a DH. Fascinating, because the Sox already have two excellent DHs. They don’t need another — they need a first baseman and/or left fielder.)
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-brow’d Yolmer ruled as his demesne; Hall-of-Famer John Keats, “On Looking into Chapman’s Yolmer.” (Demesne is apparently an old English word for “Gatorader.”)
The Sox have plenty of money to spend — if the CMO (Cheapskate Miser Overlord) will part with it. If not, well, it won’t matter whether Yolmer can hit or not. And if they use it to put Nicholas Castellanos or some other stone-hand in right field, they’ll become even more unwatchable than now.
Besides his fielding prowess, Yolmer is the one guy on the Sox who looks like he actually enjoys the game.
Eloy Jiménez shows the spirit most of the time, and will probably eventually be the spirit leader. But on defense, we’re all just as amazed as he is when he actually catches a ball, so he has some way to go.
Yes, Yolmer is a weak hitter, even though his K-to-BB ratio of 2.66-to-1 is a little better than the MLB average, instead of the horrific worst-in-baseball White Sox level of 4.1-to-1. Lots of teams fare very well while carrying a good-field-not-much-hit middle infielder. Of course, those teams find solid hitters at other positions, which means either drafting well or developing well or coaching well or trading well or spending money or … well, something. But that’s not Yolmer’s fault.
Admittedly, I usually sit in the cheap seats, but did have the occasion to sit right next to the on-deck circle once, and can assuredly say that Yolmer is everything he’s cracked up to be in providing fun and spirit and boosting morale for both teammates and fans. And you all want to non-tender him when the cost is far below what his WAR is worth, not even considering the entertainment value? Shame on you.
“…as we advance in life these things fall off one by one, and I suspect we are left with Yolmer and Virgil, perhaps with only Yolmer alone.” Former GM Thomas Jefferson, who picked up the free agent Louisiana Purchase for just $15 million