Every football season, fans in Chicago wait patiently for “Bear weather,” the collectively-held idea that the Chicago Bears play better as the temperature drops from a cold October to a frigid November to an arctic December.
Despite being a warm weather sport, baseball in the Windy City is always influenced by a late-season survival push by winter, including April (snow) showers and game-time temperatures that flirt with freezing. This year alone, Chicago White Sox head groundskeeper Roger “the Sodfather” Bossard feared the field would not be ready for Opening Day after one of the city’s harshest winters on record, a season that brought temperatures that clocked in colder than the South Pole at times.
Manager Robin Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn want their young team to succeed from the get-go, and build early-season momentum to carry them down the stretch. However, based on examining the White Sox record in April over the past nine seasons, from 2005-13, and then comparing it to both the team’s final record in each respective year while taking into account temperature changes caused by away games and indoor ballparks, April really is just the first of six months of the season and made little difference in the long run.
The White Sox finished above .500 in April five times in nine years; in three of those years, the team’s overall record was also above .500. But, they also finished with an overall record below .500 four times between 2005 and 2013, and in two of those years the team posted a winning record in April.
In 2005, when the White Sox won 99 games and most notably ended an 88-year World Series drought with the team’s first title since 1917, the team posted an April record of 17-7, a .708 winning percentage. The next year’s White Sox also went 17-7 in April and went on to win 90 games. However, in 2010, the White Sox had one of their worst April records in the nine-year period, going 9-14 to open the season. Despite the early struggle, the 2010 White Sox went on to win 88 games and posted their third-best record in the nine years.
What does this mean for the 2014 South Siders? It means that it’s okay if the team struggles out of the gate. It could even benefit the White Sox if April turns into an extended version of spring training, minus about 45 degrees of warmth; a time for the team to finish working out any growing pains that may occur and give any and all adjustments and injuries the proper time and patience to work themselves out.
April could also provide the 2014 White Sox the chance to figure out their collective identity, as a team comprised of individuals at different points in their collective careers, from uber-rookie Adrian Nieto to import Jose Abreu to new acquisition Adam Eaton and elder statesman Paul Konerko. April could be like Wednesday, hump day, the first bend in the road to a season of success. Once April passes, the White Sox can use the next five months of the season proving their parts are one whole.