In the summer of 1984, I was 9 years old and that is the earliest summer that I’ve been able to identify a specific baseball game that I attended. For the next 36 years, I’ve been to a least one game and, in more recent times, it has become one of the defining activities of my summer. Until this year, when the corona virus shut down the season for nearly 4 months and the remaining 2 went off without fans. Of course, it also was the first season both Chicago teams made the post-season since 2008.
Now that both teams have been eliminated, it is fair to say that they are moving in opposite directions. After 7 straight losing seasons, the White Sox rebuild finally started to show the promise that had been promised, finishing in second place and posting their highest winning percentage since 2005. There is still some room for improvement, especially in the starting rotation, and the way the last week of the season went down is a valid cause for concern, but the future does look a whole lot brighter on the south side than it has in quite some time.
On the north side of town, you get the feeling that the contention window is closing rapidly. After missing the playoffs last year, Theo Epstein said that major changes would be in play heading in to 2020. For various reasons, the only big change was in the manager’s office and the team that ultimately took the field in 2020 was nearly identical to the 2019 version. As this shortened season went on, the results didn’t look all that different either. Thanks to early season success and a COVID outbreak for the Cardinals, they were able to coast to the division title, which again masked some of the team’s hitting problems. Those problems came to the forefront in the quick 2 game series against the Marlins. With big pieces of the core heading towards free agency in the next 1-2 years, and coming off a season with crashed revenues and even lower offensive production, it may be difficult to make any substantial moves while getting reasonable value back in return.