Column: It’s a bizarro season in Chicago, the place the contending White Sox get booed and optimism grows for the Cubs


With slightly multiple month remaining on this bizarro baseball season in Chicago, the Cubs and White Sox have in some way managed to change identities.

A contending Sox group is being booed on the South Side, the place expectations have exceeded outcomes and impatient followers have grown weary.

“They have every right to be upset — at the team, management, whatever, they’ve got every right to do it,” supervisor Tony La Russa stated of the booing after Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

La Russa added additionally they chanted “Let’s Go Sox,” which he thought-about an “amazing” show of optimism.

Meanwhile, a Cubs group that’s been out of rivalry since April is feeding optimism on the North Side, the place seldom a discouraging phrase has been heard of late from the paying clients at Wrigley Field. Like the times of previous, promoting hope is Job No. 1, and no one markets “next year” like the Cubs.

“I’m thrilled we’re playing this way,” Cubs President Jed Hoyer stated Thursday. “A lot of parts of the season were really frustrating. We felt all along, we knew it was probably a tough needle to thread. A lot of things had to go really well to compete against (the St. Louis Cardinals) and the (Milwaukee) Brewers this year. We felt even as we were struggling we were much better than this.”

How we bought thus far is a narrative that will take eons to clarify. But the apparent fact is the disconnect between our two groups’ data and their followers’ disparate reactions is obvious with September across the nook.

The hoped-for Summer of Joy has became the Summer of Oy for the struggling Sox, who fell again to .500 Friday. They entered Saturday trailing the first-place Cleveland Guardians by 4 video games within the American League Central, and have a 20.7% likelihood to make the postseason, in response to baseball-reference.com.

Sox followers live La Vida La Russa, a world during which each loss is blamed on the polarizing supervisor and each win is finished regardless of him. Even when a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder drops a foul ball and the All-Star nearer promptly serves up a game-tying, ninth-inning dwelling run, it’s La Russa’s fault.

In this bizarro season, La Russa’s counterpart on the Cubs seemingly is fabricated from Teflon, deflecting any criticism for the group’s total report due to the premise he hasn’t been given the expertise to compete. David Ross, aka “Rossy,” even bought away with flashing a double middle finger salute to an old friend during a game in San Francisco, a transfer that will’ve created a Twitterstorm had La Russa been caught on digicam doing the identical factor. Instead, it was simply “Bad Grandpa” having some enjoyable.

While the Sox bandwagon is shortly dropping steam, the Cubs’ rebuild-that-can’t-be-called-a-rebuild is full steam forward regardless of a second straight sub-.500 end. The Cubs have been 16 video games beneath after Friday’s 4-3 comeback win in Milwaukee, 17 video games behind the Cardinals, and 13½ video games out of a wild-card spot.

“Looking forward to next spring training, looking at all the positives out of that,” infielder Zach McKinstry stated Thursday. “Hopefully we get back out here and make a push for the wild card. But it’s highly unlikely.”

True. Highly unlikely is the operative time period.

Yet Cubs followers lastly appear comfortable with Hoyer’s plan, no matter it’s, due to the event of younger gamers equivalent to Justin Steele, Nico Hoerner and Christopher Morel, and the addition of loveable lug Franmil Reyes, who hits dwelling runs and strikes out.

“Having an extra-base threat in the lineup is certainly helpful,” Hoyer stated. “Obviously we control him for the next couple years in arbitration and you make those decision as you go forward. But certainly power is something we’re well aware we’re looking for this winter.”

Fans are happily building beer cup snakes whereas the Cubs play out the string in a misplaced season. There’s even a plan beneath advisement to restrict beer snakes to a small part of the bleachers subsequent yr and name it the “Snake Pit.” As Theo Epstein once said: “That’s Cub.”

Sox followers have spent a lot of the season performing the wave at Guaranteed Rate Field to recover from the frustration of watching the group’s lifeless offense. The Sox have morphed right into a singles-hitting machine, emulating the profession of hitting coach Frank Menechino, a scrappy hitter with a lifetime slugging proportion of .383 over seven seasons.

Coincidentally, the Sox group slugging proportion getting into Saturday was .384. That’s baseball symmetry in a nutshell.

The Cubs have been proactive in coping with future dread, informing injured outfielder Jason Heyward he won’t be back in 2023, a choice that permit followers know the group has lastly given up on ready for a rebound yr. The Sox, in the meantime have one other yr of catcher Yasmani Grandal, whose offense has dropped off the face of the earth amid a slew of injuries. Unloading Grandal’s $18.25 million wage in ‘23 will be next to impossible. There’s solely a lot cash Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is prepared to eat, and he’s nonetheless digesting the Dallas Keuchel contract.

Neither Reinsdorf nor Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts says a lot anymore, at the same time as fellow homeowners in Washington, Baltimore and Anaheim, Calif., wish to money in and promote their groups to fellow billionaires. Many followers of each groups could be pleased to see a change of their respective possession, although it’s a pipe dream on either side of city.

Ricketts recently released a statement saying the Cubs “plan to be very active” in free company this offseason, a press release that had Cubs followers dreaming of slugger Aaron Judge aiming for the Waveland Avenue rooftops the remainder of the last decade. There’s no indication of whether or not Reinsdorf will spend extra this offseason, and a administration shake-up would make good sense if the ’22 Sox proceed on the street to mediocrity.

So what occurs subsequent?

The Cubs and Sox are taking part in the identical sport, with the identical guidelines, in the identical city. But on this bizarro baseball season, they’re as completely different as apples and oranges.

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