The White Sox Have A Historical Stink

Nothing is more of a rage-inducing letdown than some sludge-based broadcaster saying, “That’s the first time such-and-what has happened since 2018.” Yet they say it because nothing done today is noteworthy unless it can be shown that it hasn’t happened since some other time. To be truly historical, we argue, something must be accomplished for the first time since … ohhhh, let’s say 1907. And it also doesn’t count unless the last team to accomplish the deed in question had a name like … uhhhh, the Brooklyn Superbas.

The Brooklyn Superbas. A borough that hasn’t had a team in 67 years, a name that hasn’t been used by anyone or anything in any context in 114, and only in that one instance since Latin stopped being a thing around 700 A.D. You don’t know any Superbas, and you never have. Now that, children, is a record.

Which brings us to the wretched and soon-to-be fully rancid Chicago White Sox, who were shut out by the Kansas City Royals Monday night, 2-0. The Sox are off to a grisly start even by their standards: 2-14 (fifth-worst in history) and a horrific minus-53 run differential. But the Superba part is the fact that last night was their sixth shutout loss in 16 games. They’ve been shut out in every one of their series to date (Detroit, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland and twice by the Royals), and have lost the opening game of every series by an aggregate of 37-2. If there is any group in any sport in any league in any nation doing worse than the White Sox, it is the White Sox’s major-league scouting department.

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Most of the remainder of their cesspool of a season so far is covered by The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg here, and if you haven’t the time to digest it, just know that the high points, put in at the end as an act of unnecessary mercy, are the Sox signing 36-year-old Tommy Pham and calling up pitching prospect Nick Nastrini.

In sum, the White Sox are doomed, and maybe in ways that even those champions of industrial-strength inertia the Oakland Athletics are not. When Jerry Reinsdorf said last November at the presser announcing new general manager Chris Getz, “We want to get better as fast as we possibly can. If I went outside the organization, it would have taken anybody at least a year to evaluate the organization. I could have brought Branch Rickey back, and It would have taken him a year to evaluate the organization,” he was lying. It does not take a year to evaluate this. Branch Rickey could have done it by game eight, and he’s been dead since 1965.

Teams have bad starts all the time; hell, 135 teams have started 4-12, and two of them won World Series, the 1951 Giants and 1914 Braves—which, yes, counts as real worth-referencing history. But mostly those teams lose in the neighborhood of 95 games a year, thus making 4-12 a pretty good indicator of future performance.

About that run differential, which is actually the 16th-worst all time after so few games: It’s not really worth noting because the last time to exceed that was the 2023 A’s. See, that’s the difference. A stat that’s only a year old isn’t a stat worth referencing. It’s an aside.

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On the other hand, these White Sox are on pace to be shut out 61 times this year, shattering the old record set by the 1908 Cardinals, who were shut out 33 times. That seems unattainable, but then who thought we’d be talking about the Brooklyn Superbas?

Maybe that’s the real key to a great stat then: not the age, but the obscurity of the team that last did it. Anyone can hearken back to those halcyon days of 2003 when the Tigers went 43-119. Give us something last done by the Elizabeth Resolutes or the St. Paul Apostles, the Cleveland Infants or the Chicago Orphans. Don’t just make it statistical, make it lyrical, too. I mean, anyone can be like the White Sox after 16 games, but who among us can say they are the new Fort Wayne Kekiongas? They folded after 19 games in 1871, so the White Sox have something truly legendary to shoot for.

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