Despite taking the first game of a four game series in the Bronx, the White Sox must be better road team moving forward. After opening the season with back to back wins in Cleveland, the Sox have gone a miserable 3-8 away from the Cell. Improvements must come soon with a heavy road scheduled looming in May.
There seems to be this overused cliché that states if you play .500 ball on the road you should be in good shape. To me, that isn’t good enough. This shouldn’t be a measuring stick for a good club. Teams with visions of playing in the postseason should, at the very least, play .500 on the road. It shouldn’t be a team goal either. With the amount of talent on this years edition of the White Sox, winning and losing the same amount of games on the road shouldn’t lead to any satisfaction.
I’d argue the fact that good teams should thrive on the road. It is important to take on that “us against the world” mindset. In some clubhouses that maybe difficult because of conflicting personalities or sore feelings, but this Sox teams seems to have a pretty good togetherness feeling about it. During this recent slide on offense, you didn’t see pitchers throw the position players under the bus or vice versa. Now, I don’t think anyone would have faulted the pitchers for doing so based on the anemic offensive results over the past three series but that’s a whole other can of worms that I’d rather not write about again. There’s the age old argument: Does chemistry bread winning or does winning bread chemistry? Now, while some may argue chemistry may be the most overvalued aspect in sports, I am under the belief that chemistry is an important thing, especially when on the road. Teams can’t be successful if you have 25 guys going out there trying to improve their numbers on the back of their baseball card.
Cross country trips can provide teams the opportunity to build a bond within the clubhouse. A relationship amongst players that can be cultivated throughout the season while away from their comfort level at home. Yeah, it sucks leaving your city and family members for weeks at a time, but this it’s what the life of a professional athlete entails and they get paid a great deal to do so. During these long roundtrips teammates must be your family and friends. Heck, baseball players probably spend more time with their teammates than with their family members between the months of March and October anyways.
When is comes down to it, a road win is just another win over the course of a 162 (sometimes 163) game season. It’s not worth any more or any less than any home win, but playing well on the road exudes a feeling of confidence within the team and amongst their fans. The White Sox must find their road mojo soon because when the calendar hits May, the Sox will play 18 of their scheduled 29 games away from their family and friends.
I know it’s very, very early in the season and although this current trip is not over, the Sox cannot afford to have another disastrous trip when they head West next Monday or when they head to Texas, Toronto and Boston to finish off the month of May. I’ll be the first to admit, based on what I’ve seen the past week, I am definitely a little nervous about the May schedule. There are some daunting road trips awaiting the Sox. I’ll leave you with one positive note. If the Sox are able to tread water and stay close in the divisional race over the next month (I think they will. I mean they have to start hitting at some point, right?) the schedule will even itself out. Meaning a lot of summer dates at the Cell where the ball tends to leave the yard more often than not. Exactly the type of playing conditions for which this team was built.