1. They’re still doing that ESPN ultimate franchise rankings thing, and allegedly only for 14 years now, even though I remember reading their first version in a physical magazine that I purchased from a news stand, so I’m pretty sure it was in 1977. It’s basically one big customer satisfaction survey, so it should not be surprising that the White Sox finished 96th out of 122 teams surveyed from the four major sports leagues. The Tampa Bay Lightning finished first, as we all predicted.
More amusingly, the Sox finished dead last in the coaching rating, which is purely a rebuke of Robin Ventura, who apparently had become the biggest pariah in major sports to reach the point where he was allowed to politely step down. While fans remember 2005 well enough for the Sox to finish 35th in “championships won or expected within the lifetime of current fans” (though Ethan only barely fits in that group), and are 27th in affordability, they are also 116th in fan relations, owing to an eight-year playoff drought and no clear way forward.
If avoiding the suffering and disinterest that comes during the worst of a hard rebuild has been a reason to avoid that direction in the past, it will be interesting to see how fans tuning out on a middle of the road team, and becoming more sympathetic to teardowns due to the success across town will factor in. Not that it’s the correct move here, but it’s bound to be the correct move at some point before we’re all dead.
2. MLB Trade Rumors’ deep dive into Jose Abreu’s arbitration situation is…interesting by late-October non-playoff standards. There is some confusion on whether Abreu‘s 2016 salary will be calculated with his signing bonus averaged over all six years of his deal or just divided over his the first three. But that would only produce a $1.5 million swing in the 2016 salary figure that next year’s salary–should he enter arbitration–would be based on, and him getting anything more than a nominal raise as a show of goodwill seems functionally nil. Because a first-year arbitration player of his caliber would be unlikely to earn more than he already is making.
Abreu seems likely to opt for arbitration as it gives him an opportunity significantly raise his earning potential with a return to form over the next three years, but none of the heavy financial lifting of him doing that is taking place in 2017.
3. It appears not everyone loved my dismissive tone toward former Wisconsin basketball star and meatball White Sox fan Frank Kaminsky trolling the Cubs by wearing a Steve Bartman jersey. I am certainly of not of the mind that everyone needs to band together and root for the Chicago team, nor of any real recommendation of a proper way to engage with this expensive and unfulfilling consumer product in any way.
This was more of a word of caution, that perhaps, just maybe, with the Cubs being a rampaging, 103-win team that is one win away from the World Series and set to face Corey Kluber and a collection of No. 4 and No. 5 starters in the next round, now is not the peak time to be setting yourself up to be dunked on endlessly online when their near-imminent ultimate triumph comes to pass.
Maybe you are of heartier stock, maybe your commitment to trolling the Cubs is life-defining, and when faced with this inevitable cataclysm, your inclination is to stand athwart it, rather than scurry for survival. Or maybe it’s just easier for you to just slip offline for a few weeks until the heat dies down than it is for me. Anyway, it was just a recommendation. You don’t have to only kick ‘em when they’re down, but maybe don’t try to kick ‘em when they’re armed and mowing down everyone in the room.
4. Matt Davidson‘s foot still isn’t even all the way healed yet. He broke at the end of June running the bases. I remain unconvinced about the notion of his swing changes bringing back his prospect status, but the Sox were really thorough in having all the players they could learn something from by giving extended major league tryouts, just completely shatter.
In 2014, Avisail Garcia‘s freak shoulder injury kept them from getting a long look with which to assess him during a throwaway season, and they wound up choosing to figure out if he could be a starter on a contender while simultaneously trying to contend. But I’m sure that won’t happen again.
5. We haven’t delved into it enough here, but will be doing so increasingly going forward, so I wanted to link again to Jeff Long’s breakdown on spin rate from last month. Chris Sale figures prominently into the discussion of pitchers with ideal stuff.
Lead Image Credit: Rick Osentoski // USA Today Sports Images