By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (CBS) — One by one, the 2015 White Sox emerged from center field in Ford vehicles. What a way to introduce the new-look team and plug a corporate sponsor.
Fans packed the U.S. Celluar Field parking lots hours before the game, taking a Friday off to crack open beers and breathe in the hope that filled the Chicago air. As each Ford unveiled members of the team, the crowd exploded. Even “Sodfather” Roger Bossard received a raucous ovation. After all, expectations are sky high for this season.
There’s Jose Abreu, the 2014 AL Rookie of the year; Chris Sale, a Cy Young contender; Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, David Robertson and other newcomers brought in to reshape the White Sox as a playoff team. The pregame festivities became a celebration for baseball’s offseason champions.
Oh, but the White Sox were 0-3 entering Friday. After their abysmal 6-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins — a team that scored one run in its first three games — Chicago’s record sits at 0-4. Those pregame cheers from a full house turned into several thousand left booing in the ballpark.
“There’s no panic — I promise you — in this clubhouse,” White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham said.
Added centerfielder Adam Eaton before the game: “Zero. There’s nothing.”
It was Eaton who was thrown out at the plate for the game’s final out as he pushed for the only White Sox run of the game, gunned down by a mile. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
“You get a sense guys are trying to hit a five-run homer with one guy on,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said.
OK, so let’s not overreact to a tough start for Chicago’s alleged baseball boom. Everything is going to be OK … right?
This is just a slow start to the season, a collective slump. The White Sox are hitting a collective .183, which probably won’t last. Abreu isn’t mashing baseballs yet; Alexei Ramirez bounced a throw to home plate on a questionable decision; Hector Noesi struggled in his 4 2/3 innings of work, which included two wild pitches. This game was a series of sloppy plays, but sloppiness is inexcusable a week removed from spring training.
Frustration from the fans is felt in the renovated White Sox clubhouse.
“We’ve all been booed before,” Beckham said. “It’s not great, but it’s game one here at home. We’ve got a good team; I’m not concerned about what the fans think about our team. We know what we have, we know they want us to win, and it’s just them being fans.”
Here’s a hot take to consider. The White Sox will more than likely win a game this season. No team has ever gone 0-162. Rick Hahn, the man who reworked the roster, had his own fact to boast before the game.
“I know you have to go back all the way to 2014 to find the last playoff team that started off 0-3,” said Hahn, referring to the 2014 Angels.
What about 0-4 teams? That’s not a rhetorical question, actually, because five teams have done it in the wild-card era — most recently the 2012 Atlanta Braves.
Everything will work out for the White Sox in the end. This won’t be the first team to go 0-162 and isn’t the 73-89 team of a year ago. All those acquisitions from the offseason, joining a core of top baseball talent like Abreu and Sale, will form a contender.
“We’ve got a good team,” Beckham said. “There’s a lot of good in here. It’s only a matter of time.”
That time should have arrived weeks ago in spring training. Poor play shouldn’t occur on a major league field from a team this good. The White Sox’s offensive struggles can’t be attributed to cold weather. This is just a team playing bad baseball.
Should the White Sox win four straight games, happy feelings will return. Heck, even one victory — say, Saturday afternoon with Samardzija on the bump — will bring a boost in morale.
The fresh air of optimism filling the South Side has been polluted like fumes from a Ford. The White Sox must keep a slow start from leading to another sad season.
Follow Chris on Twitter @CEmma670.