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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Extra Innings: The Chicago White Sox are a joke

The team’s recent downward spiral has led to relocation rumors.

extra innings-henry blickenstaff

I’m aware that I’ve made fun of the White Sox before. But as a Cubs fan, I just can’t help myself.

It’s hard to believe that just three seasons ago, this team was one of the best in baseball, winning the American League Central with 93 wins. But an abysmal start to the 2024 campaign is a reminder of how quickly the White Sox’ fortunes have changed.

Most of the key pieces of the 2021 team have left. Tim Anderson, José Abreu, Carlos Rodón, Dylan Cease, Lucas Giolito and many others have all found different homes. Granted, Cease is the only one who hasn’t either dealt with injuries or experienced a serious decline, but don’t let management off the hook that easily, because the White Sox made no effort to replace those guys or add to the team. The White Sox remain one of only two MLB franchises to never have handed out a nine-figure contract. The other is the Oakland Athletics, a team whose front office negligence got so bad that they’re now planning to leave the city. Not exactly the best list to be on.

After a 61101 record in 2023 and yet another quiet offseason, the White Sox have looked completely lost. Not only do they have a 3–18 record as of April 21, but they’ve scored only 2.14 runs per game, by far the lowest mark in baseball. Their 11 team home runs, batting average of .188, and OPS of .552 are also all the worst in MLB. Pitching hasn’t been much better — they’ve allowed 5.52 runs per game, the second-worst in the league.

To add fuel to that already raging fire, Luis Robert Jr., the team’s best player, was injured not even two weeks into the season. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks with a hip flexor strain, an injury he also suffered in 2021. The White Sox will have to endure a long stretch without the guy who was the only reason to watch this team in the first place. Attendance figures could be in four-digit territory.

Speaking of attendance, the White Sox’s lack thereof poses a serious threat to their future in Chicago. So far, they’ve averaged just over 16,000 fans per game, the fourth-lowest in the league and a paltry share of Guaranteed Rate Field’s capacity of 40,615. 2023 wasn’t much better, as average attendance was just 20,613. Even in 2022, with the team coming off of a successful 2021 campaign, the average was still less than 25,000 fans, ranking 19th in MLB. 

Owner Jerry Reinsdorf wants to keep the team in Chicago, and he’s proposed a project for a new park in the South Loop area that would have views of the city’s skyline. However, the cost could hit $4 billion, and with the White Sox competing for public funding with the far more popular Bears, it’s hard to imagine the project getting done. With the team being this bad, a new park might be the only way to generate revenue, and if that doesn’t happen in Chicago, relocation is very much in the cards.

As you can see, it’s a sad state of affairs on the South Side. Fortunately, I see at least one bonus from a White Sox relocation: more Cubs fans!