When each staffer asks for one miracle in 2022, the wish list gets wild, quick.
With Grievances Aired at season’s end, then Feats of Strength to follow that up, Best Games of the Year next, Worst Games of the Year last week, and Soxivus Pole gifts sprinkled throughout, the final phase of the celebration continues here, with our Soxivus Miracles.
We humbly present these in order of most-to-least likely to happen.
A Major Minnie Miracle
Minnie Miñoso was for Latino players what Jackie Robinson was for Black players: The man who opened the door to dream of playing in the major leagues. Getting his first chance in the league at the age of 23, it would take a trade to the South Side at 25 for Miñoso to get his chance to truly blossom. Even with missing out on many prime years of production, when his talent was obvious, he was still able to accrue a career MLB total of 50.5 bWAR (53.8 bWAR including the Negro Leagues).
The closest that Minnie has ever gotten to the Hall of Fame is on the 2011 and 2015 Golden Era votes: Needing a total of 12 votes for admittance, the 16-member panel gave Miñoso nine and eight votes, respectively. With Miñoso passing away just a few months after the 2015 vote, It was fitting that in both elections, the only player voted in was Ron Santo, who had passed away himself the year before the 2011 vote putting him in.
Next month’s Golden Days Era vote finds Minnie, and some of his overlooked White Sox brethren, back on the ballot with what seems like a strong chance to finally make it in. As has happened far too many times in the history of baseball’s Hall, the death of a player somehow allows their career achievements to finally shine brightly enough to impress a group of jaded, gatekeeping sportswriters into doing what should have been done while the player was alive to enjoy it.
Not this time! Queue up that man’s music, Minnie is coming back! It’s a Soxivus miracle!!!
Miñoso is the kind of player that you build a Hall of Fame for, and deserves to be alive to look out over the crowd and see all the lives he was able to change by playing a kid’s game. Minnie is going to walk across that stage and make a speech to address and motivate a league that, thanks to him leading the way, now consists of almost 25% Latino players. Not happy enough to let his words speak for him, he’s going to suit up and sign a one-day contract with the White Sox to play and record a hit in yet another decade.
Regardless of what a committee of “experts” decide, through his play on the field and his struggle off the field, Minnie Miñoso has always been a Hall of Fame ballplayer.
It’s far past time that we started treating him like it, and it’s beyond shameful that he isn’t alive to see it.
Three Strikes for Tony
Leigh Allan (the Soxsanta)
Somewhere in the posh, eastern suburbs of San Francisco, a Christmas party is in full swing, with plenty of toasts and plenty of liquids consumed during them. One of the guests, a HOFBP, gets to flashing his World Series rings around, which leads to other participants buying him drinks as the night wears on. At last call, the HOFBP stumbles to his car, saying to himself, “Remember the Alamo, remember the Alamo” because he lives in Alamo, which he tends to forget when he imbibes.
At his car, the HOFBP wonders, should I really drive? But then he thinks, “As many times as I’ve done this, I’ve only been caught twice – well, twice that stayed on the record – so the odds are heavily in my favor.”
He starts home, but he’s very tired, so he stops for a nap — which you’re not supposed to do in the middle of a busy intersection. He snaps to when the flashing blue lights strike his eyes, guns the car, and rams into a fire hydrant, sending water soaring into the air, a grievous sin in drought-stricken California. The police car pulls up, and it’s like the great sage of baseball said – déjà vu all over again. He shows his ring, slurs that he’s a HOFBP, the real thing, all to no avail as he’s hauled off to the police station.
His lawyer quickly comes to bail him out, but as luck would have it, a reporter for the East Bay Times is at the station doing a fun feature on favorite Christmas cookies of police officers, recognizes the HOFBP and sees his chance for a story that will propel him to a major newspaper.
The AP sends the story nationwide, and soon there is a demand for Jerry Reinsdorf to do get rid of the HOFBP and his baggage. Reinsdorf refuses, saying it’s only been three times, at least that are on the record, and geriatrics deserve a break. Ken Williams and Rick Hahn protest, but when Reinsdorf asks, “Since when did you two grow a pair?” they slink off quietly to enjoy their huge paychecks.
Outraged, MADD and SADD picket the GURF, to no avail since no one’s there over the holidays. But then they take their protests to Reinsdorf’s home, where his Highland Park neighbors get very upset. Eventually he caves in, allowing the HOFBP to resign gracefully to spend more time with his family.
Hahn and Williams, gathering some self-respect after a few eggnogs of their own, insist on a real managerial search to find the best person possible for the job, even if it’s someone not on Reinsdorf’s Christmas and Hannukah card list. The search is successful, and the new manager (can’t give away who that is, there need to be some surprises) leads the White Sox to a World Series win and gets a ring of his own.
Brett Gardner Faces Down the Ghost of Adam Eaton Past
Last year, the White Sox went to the past-prime discount bin to address their right-field issue. This year, the White Sox will learn nothing and do the very same thing. Right in the thick of a contention window, the White Sox turn to 38-year-old Brett Gardner, who has posted 39.0 fWAR in his career, though only 2.0 of that has come since the beginning of the 2020 season. In 2021, Gardner posted a 93 wRC+ and 1.4 fWAR in 140 games, though his WAR would have been lower had he played right field instead of center. Regardless, the front office is impressed enough with the veteran that Gardner comes to the White Sox on a one-year, $7 million contract. The deal drives White Sox Twitter crazy, and the Adam Eaton comparisons begin.
Against all odds, the deal turns out to be decent, and Gardner holds down the fort in right field. Gardner bumps his wRC+ back up to 105, and despite playing center field almost exclusively throughout his career, his defense is strong enough in right field for a 1.7-fWAR season. Then, in the playoffs, Gardner has a moment that most White Sox fans will forget about, but it will be a footnote worth remembering for years to come. In a winner-take-all Game 5 in the ALDS, the White Sox will be trailing the Rays, 4-3. Gardner will come up to bat with runners on first and second with one out in the top of the ninth. Gardner hits a soft ground ball to second base. The Rays get the out at second rather easily, but it will be tough to double up Gardner at first to end the series. Rays shortstop Wander Franco fires the ball over to first, but Gardner beats the throw by a half-step, and the White Sox still have a pulse. Runners on the corners, two outs, still down by one.
The next batter, Tim Anderson, saves the day by launching a sharp line drive into the gap in right-center. Both runners come around to score, the White Sox take a 5-4 lead, and they go on to win by that score after a Liam Hendriks save.
Had Gardner grounded into a double play, there would have been no magical TA moment, and the White Sox would have made an early playoff exit for the third consecutive season. But, partially due to Gardner’s TWTW, they make it to the ALCS for the first time since 2005.
Micker Adolfo Hits 30 Homers
With the White Sox unable to close on signing Michael Conforto, GM Rick Hahn quickly pivots to highlight the club’s minor leaguers who can fill the void. But, of course, it’s a tale as old as time, and White Sox fandom collectively rolls their eyes until the White Sox make additional moves — but that’s for another Soxivus Miracle story.
Instead, one Micker Antony Adolfo Zapata, fresh off of his best minor league season, forces Hahn’s hand by raking his way throughout spring training and onto the Opening Day roster. Although he starts the season in a platoon, Adolfo’s power elevates him to a more prominent role due to injuries, and as a result, Adolfo finishes the season with 30 home runs.
That, my friends, is a Soxivus Miracle.
South Side Spending Spree
Can we get a priest to bless some water first?
Jerry Reinsdorf actually spends money as if Ken Williams wanted someone. Marcus Semien joins the White Sox. Lucas Giolito gets extended. Carlos Rodón comes back for cheap to help stretch Michael Kopech. Maybe even a backup catcher for Yasmani Grandal.
Andrew McCutchen has a bounce-back year, joining the White Sox for my own selfish desires.
Jerry, I will spend more money and perhaps even buy season tickets if you make this happen for me.
Elect Living Legends
Year of the Hamster
Baseball writers (and other voters) treat the Hall of Fame process like some sort of quixotic quest for players, rather than honors that should be more automatically bestowed. (But that would kill all the drama in your dreary lives, right BBWAA?) Greatness abounds in the game, so it’s time to finally start opening the floodgates and letting deserving all-timers take a lap. The Golden Days Era voters start righting past wrongs by aggressively filling their ballots with the maximum four candidates apiece (there are eight HOFers among the 10 to choose from next month, easy), coordinate their voting efforts to avoid the embarrassment of no one being elected (as in 2015), and steer living candidates into the Hall. That means Jim Kaat and Tony Olivia make it this year, along with, say, Minnie Miñoso and Dick Allen. And with 84 total votes cast, several other players who fall short (say, Billy Pierce) still get substantial (six-to-nine votes) support, fueling a movement toward election on future ballots.
Spend and Trade
For my Soxivus Miracle, I have a few wishes of good will and good tidings of free agent signings and trades that make sense. For my free-agent wishes, I would like Rick Hahn to sign Nicholas Castellanos and Marcus Semien. Cue the gasps of shock and awe, as this could never happen? Alas, it is my Soxivus Miracle!
My second miracle would be to trade Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel in a pitcher-centered trade to an unsuspecting team, and in exchange, receive a backup catcher that can frame pitches and stop wild pitches in their tracks. Shocking, I know, but miracles happen once in a while — and sometimes when you least expect them!
Sociology Study -> Performance Art -> Regime Change
On the day of Soxivus, Jerry Reinsdorf will appear at a press conference alongside former University of Chicago President Bob Zimmer, as well as numerous members of the University faculty.
Zimmer is often not interested in the welfare of the many. So it will be no surprise when he announces that Jerry Reinsdorf — revealed to be a 64-year-old named Ernest from Riverdale, N.J. — was a 50-year experiment engineered by the University of Chicago sociology department to study the impact of lying to an emotionally-invested civic population.
Their study having concluded, we are told, the team will be turned over to a trust with over $200 million allocated for payroll until the team can be sold. Presumably to somebody who’s down with $200 million payrolls.
Why? Only the think tank that commissioned this great work of performance art will ever know. Perhaps we won’t need to know — perhaps the miracle of a new regime is enough!
It’s a bit of a cheat, because fulfilling this Soxivus Miracle will unlock others, in a wave that will make the White Sox not only the darlings of Chicago, but the sports world. This Miracle sees the front office maximizing its honesty and transparency, leaving the days of used-car lemon sales and other acts outright lying and poor PR behind. The White Sox will conduct the honest and open managerial search, as promised by Rick Hahn one year ago. They will stop payroll-scolding fans who fill the park and crowd the broadcasts year after year. They will hesitate to chase a bold promise like The Money Will Be Spent quickly with The Money Has Been Spent, Silly, without a zoom conference, PowerPoint presentation or even a tweet thread to back the claim. They will continue to respond swiftly to social issues both here and in players’ home countries, but with greater urgency and willingness to make a difference. They will sever relationships with gambling outlets (as much as can be avoided outside of MLB mandates), and inappropriate broadcast partners that seek to attack and belittle an ever-growing segment of the fan base (yes, women, persons of color … pretty much everyone who never wore a pledge pin in college).
Even to merely begin this process would automatically shift the scales and put less focus on gaffes or inaction, more on the good work the White Sox are already doing. Stop lying and hiding and mocking, continue caring and respecting the fan base.
While the least likely move from the cloistered monastery on 35th and Shields, this could be the easiest Soxivus Miracle to pull off — if only the White Sox want to.