The coronavirus has likely shortened the 2020 MLB season, if not killed it altogether. The Chicago White Sox have seen this before.
Long-time Chicago White Sox fans will remember 1994. That was supposed to be the year – the year they’d finally win it all for the first time since 1917. The 1919 Black Sox curse would be shaken off, and the Sox would win the World Series before the long-suffering Chicago Cubs would, making it even sweeter for those South Side fans who measure their team’s success against the team based 8 miles north.
After all, the 1993 team was pretty damn good, although they ran into a buzzsaw in the American League Championship when they faced the eventual champion Toronto Blue Jays.
When 1994 rolled around, the White Sox were predicted by most to face off against the then-Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) in the World Series. Instead, the player’s strike scrubbed the season. At the time, the Sox had a 67-46 record and a one-game lead in the division.
Now, the 2020 White Sox were on schedule to possibly be competitive and make a run at the playoffs for the first time since a rebuild began in 2017. How very White Sox would it be if a shortened season worked against them, or if the season was canceled altogether?
I’m the eternal optimist – and I have a gut feeling that there will be baseball at the major-league level this year. But I could be wrong, and worst-case coronavirus scenarios could play out, thus scuttling the season.
Even if I am right, it’s hard to imagine 162 games being played, even with doubleheaders. The season could be compressed.
Whether that will help or hurt teams is debatable. On one hand, fatigue would likely be less of an issue if teams don’t have as many games to play (of course, that will apply to all teams). On the other hand, there will be less time for players to rebound from slumps or rebound from injuries. Not to mention, a team that’s not predicted to be competitive could get hot, and without a long season, there won’t be time for them to cool off. They could knock the Sox out at some point.
Finally, even if the Sox were to win it all, they’d be derided for winning it during a shortened season. So-called “haters” could say that the win is less impressive than a normal championship because it wasn’t earned over the usual 162 games.
Sure, the Sox have the 2005 Series championship (which also came 11 years before Cubs broke their own curse, giving a certain segment of Sox fans more than a little bit of joy), and coronavirus can’t take that away.
Thursday was supposed to be the White Sox home opener. That, obviously, isn’t going to happen. Hopefully, the 2020 season will.
I know how important it is to socially distance, and I understand a shortened season is the price we pay to try and stop a virus that will kill too many people (really, one is too many, but you get my drift). With that in mind, the White Sox’ fate is very, very low on the priority list. I’ve written this post with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Still, how very White Sox it would be, to experience no season in 2020.