On Tuesday night Chris Sale made his first start on the GRF mound as a member of a team not named the White Sox. Well, he’s still a Sox, just now of the Red variety since being traded to Boston during the offseason.
Sale’s return to the place where he dominated for so long was sure to bring mixed emotions and reactions from the fans. Some would cheer, others would boo. The usual act when a player not named LeBron or KD returns to their former place of employment. But even that isn’t a fair comparison since Sale didn’t leave Chicago. He was just traded.
When Sale took the mound Tuesday night he was met with cheers and a standing ovation from fans on the south side. Something that, despite his “issues” off the field, was absolutely deserved. Boston went on to win the game 13-7, chasing Quintana early and mashing six home runs off White Sox pitching in the game. Almost poetic in a way.
I watched Chris Sale pitch in-person a few times. The final time was last summer in Houston, where despite getting shelled by the Astros’ hitting, the Sox won the game and took the series. Even when getting pummeled Sale was magical to watch.
But when I think about Sale and his tenure in Chicago I’m immediately met with mixed emotions. On one hand I’m angered over the fact that the Sox basically wasted some of his best years, accomplishing nothing while he wore black pinstripes (not for a lack of trying, the front office surrounded him with some good free agent splashes, problem was that none of them panned out).
But then on the other hand, despite what he did I just really feel no deep attachment to Chris Sale as a player.
People all over social media commented leading up to the game about how they would be aching watching him pitch against the White Sox. Maybe I’m jaded with this, but it just doesn’t irk me that he’s pitching for another team now.
The Sox had to make a hard decision this offseason. Keep Sale and try the same thing again, or blow it all up and trade him. They chose to rebuild, and the return they got was pretty damn good.
It’s why going forward when I look at Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, and every other prospect that makes their way up in the coming years, I’m gonna think of Sale. The unbelievably sour and hard decision to trade him made all that has followed possible. I’m more excited about the players we have now, and the future we have now, than I ever was when Sale was on the team providing fruitless domination.
White Sox fans need to start getting used to looking forward more and looking back at the past less. I don’t think it’s outrageous to say, in the long run, the Sox have a better chance to win a World Series going forward without him on the team than we did with him.
Chris Sale is part of the White Sox past. He’s not a part of the team’s future anymore. Hopefully Tuesday night was a bit of closure on that.
That doesn’t mean we cannot appreciate what he did during him time in Chicago. The dude was (and still is) a freaking unbelievable pitcher. One of, if not, the best in baseball.
I wish him nothing but the best, but I like what we have going for us now.