By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Wow, what a whirlwind Blackhawks party, eh? So much excitement and fun and profanity. Everybody is working on making their Facebook profile pic one of them posing with the Stanley Cup. Good times.
But the grim specter of death creeps across Chicagoland like a shadow as the Hawks celebratory sun sets, and that darkness is the reality of baseball. We tried to ignore it as long as we could. Thanks to hockey the Cubs and White Sox were able to toil in embarrassment fairly quietly, save the cries of pain from Hawk Harrelson.
Now we can’t escape it. All we have of actual substance for the next couple months—icky and gelatinous as it may be—is baseball. Cold, cruel Chicago baseball.
As the 2013 season is halfway over, it’s not like we’re waking up next to some hideous thing we don’t recollect after the blackout partying during the Hawks run. We knew this wasn’t going to be pretty after the confetti settled and the parade urine and vomit had been hosed away. Yet here we are, and knowing the inevitability of the suck baseball was going to contain doesn’t make the hockey hangover any more pleasant.
At least the Cubs are doing things amid the bad baseball that point in a promising direction. Tuesday’s trade of brief sensation Scott Feldman with the throw-in of former Folk Hero of the Month Steve Clevenger was blueprint perfect of what Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein said they had planned for this season. (And someone needs to explain that to Jeff Samardzija.) Being able to finally move Carlos “Tire Fire” Marmol, who was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday was a big spoonful of sugar on this turd of a season. Those are just the initial of what will be more trades, too.
And if fans want to look to the future as glass half full (if they didn’t chase some booze with the contents of the glass already), the Cubs signed some highly-touted international players Tuesday. Names like Gleyber Torres, Jefferson Mejia, and Erling Moreno may not be household ones right now, but the team sees them as being part of the second half of this decade (man, that’s depressing to say) that is supposed to contain the big payoff or at least being pieces to work with in future trades.
Add to that the reported landing of the top international prospect, Eloy Jimenez, who supposedly will sign for less money than offered elsewhere, and a draft that included promising slugger Kris Bryant and a group of pitchers the organization is really keen on, at least the team shows direction. Cubs fans can see evidence of the team working to get away from, say, the league-leading 17th blown save occurring in the 81st game of the season.
Then there are the White Sox. The children’s hospital hit by a tornado that is the White Sox.
I did not think the Sox would contend this year, but I take not an “I told you so” approach here because I did not see 2013 being this disastrous for them. The worst thing about the White Sox is we’re watching a team that, while also bad like the Cubs, is heading in a different direction than the Cubs for the immediate future.
This Sox team is a dying one, not a growing one where certain pains can be understood, expected, and forgiven. These are predominantly veterans on the downswing and younger guys who have not lived up to expectations, and general manager Rick Hahn is faced with figuring out how to properly blow it all up and rebuild from the ashes. A problem exists, though—with what does he rebuild?
The White Sox farm system has been the butt of a lot of jokes for a while now, and the international scouting is trying to pick itself back up after a scandal that probably didn’t get as much press as it should have. Spending the most money on an international player in club history on Tuesday to grab Micker Zapata is certainly a nice move, but Hahn and Co. have a long, arduous task of not building from the ground floor up but, rather, from the basement up.
Right now that involves accepting that a team that on paper could have vied for a Wild Card spot this season is now reduced to being major sellers in July. Any money that can be freed up should be, and any minor leaguer with promise that can be acquired for the current used goods should be. It may not be what Sox fans wanted this season, and it may be a year earlier than Hahn had planned, but it’s the distasteful reality.
Bringing back Jim Thome as special assistant to the GM and guy who will cook everybody’s favorite meal on their birthday is a nice feel-good story to help the medicine go down, but Sox fans really need to accept that the organization is in the initial stages of setting up the dynamite around the building in preparation for pushing the plunger. Then it will likely be a while before the team is a viable one again. Hahn’s road ahead is not an enviable one.
So pop a few aspirin and drink plenty of fluids to shake off the headache you have to deal with over the next several weeks. Chicago sports fun is over for now, and we have to accept the fate we knew was coming.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget, but please don’t follow him in real life. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.