As we spend the next few weeks taking a deep dive into the upcoming 2021 White Sox season, I am hoping to analyze and cover the bases of all fanhoods: 1. Analytically; baseball is a game of individual outcomes more than any other team sport. A game of individual match-ups and outcomes masqueraded behind a team structure fighting towards a unified goal. It's the constant one on one match-up within the game that makes the statistical analysis so beautiful, and so informative. Analytics is an acquired taste for some, but here we will dive into the statistical nature of the game, both good and the bad, and evaluate both the people playing the game and the people in charge. As more and more data is released to the public, the sorting out of statistical noise becomes more difficult; the key to good data is the same as the key to being a good person - integrity.
Pictured: Goose Gossage yelling at all the damn nerds ruining baseball!
2. Strategically; unlike any other season in my life, the shortened schedule in 2020 will bring more variance into the game than ever. This is both good and bad, as the unpredictable and the unexpected are frequently what drives excitement in sports, but at the same time, a season can be made or broken by far fewer mistakes and decisions. Due to expanded rosters and the shortened season, a manager may actually have an impact on the seasons success, and while it's easy to play arm chair QB I will do my best to make clear my thoughts and strategy before situations arise. That said, I understand that part of the enjoyment in being a fan is being an expert in hindsight; always having the correct answers in your head. But here I am going to analyze the thoughts I had that didn't pan out as opposed to the ones that did. Confirmation bias is one of the biggest barriers to growth within the human experience, and analyzing your failures and calling into question your bias is one way to grow personally, strategically and analytically. That means there will be times when I look at the wrong idea - the wrong decision - from the point of it being the right one.
Caption: Terry Bevington getting ready to run away after signaling towards an empty bullpen
3. Fanatically; at the end of the day, what drives our love and commitment to the game are the memories and emotion it harbors within each one of us. The beauty of baseball has always been the struggle and the grind; game after game, year after year, you are bombarded with failure and misery, then an inkling of hope and promise, and then some more misery. Baseball in its own sense is a microcosm of life - if you don't stop to appreciate the little successes, and the baby steps taken along the way, you'll be overwhelmed by failure and find it difficult to dig your way out. A rut in life is similar to a slump at the plate; no one is coming to save you from yourself. All those memories are developed whether your team wins or loses, because it's the ability to share that love and emotion with those around you that drives fanhood. It's the passion that keeps you coming back one Greg Norton after another - one Terry Bevington bullpen call following an Adam LaRoche seminar on parenting and educating children responsibly. The love of baseball could make a paleontologist befriend Carl Everett because for three hours a day in the summer, our beliefs, political affiliations, and career paths are set aside as we all come together and say "Let's go go go WHITE SOXXXXX."
Pictured: Scene from the "based on a true story" movie about my father The Fan (1996)
Next on the docket are pre-season projections and strategic management concepts for a team that has more variance than any other; for a team that is exciting and volatile, like your first high school relationship. I have spent the past couple years compiling all publicly available baseball databases under one roof for me to analyze; all while experimenting with my own statistics. For the first time, I will be sharing some of these numbers, angles and thoughts publicly. The beauty of this game is that it's always changing and those unwilling to evolve will be left in the dust of their archaic thoughts. All models get old without constant maintenance.
*And never forget White Sox fans; at the end of the day, when we are putting our heads on our pillow, we aren't the people rooting and supporting the Ricketts family.