Something rather unusual happened during ESPN’s morning broadcast of SportsCenter on Monday. For the first time in awhile, the Chicago White Sox‘s upcoming game was labeled as the “What To Watch For” game of the day. Say goodbye to the loved ones, ladies and gentleman, because this might be the sign that the apocalypse is coming.
It is rare (some would even say unheard of) that an upcoming White Sox game is highlighted by the national media. Over the years, Sox fans have come to accept that. Who needs the national media, right?
The second team in the Second City hasn’t had media attention since 2005, but that has not stopped the fans from caring. As Sox supporters, they have embraced their role as the castoffs of the third-largest media market in the country. Some might even say that they receive as much coverage as a low-market team like the Kansas City Royals or the Milwaukee Brewers. However, this all changed with the acquisition of one player.
MLB is not the NBA. One superstar does not catapult an aging borderline playoff team into a league powerhouse for years to come. Baseball is a game where all 25 games on the roster have to contribute, from the middle-of-the-order slugger to the backup outfielder.
That being said, baseball is just like any other sport. While a superstar does not make a team, such a player sure does bring about an increasing number of media attention to his organization. That right there is the reason why the White Sox are gaining more awareness this season. After signing Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, people became intrigued with the ball club.
With the emergence of Cuban stars in recent years, especially the young spark plug that the Sox will face this week, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, Abreu instantly became a newsworthy player. His video game-like numbers in Cuba made everyone wonder if he could become an MLB superstar, or if he would end up being a Spring Training headliner after he starts facing more elite competition.
Before heading on the DL in May, Abreu was tearing up major league pitching. The April Player and Rookie of the Month Award winner mashed a league-leading 15 homers and 42 RBIs while batting a respectable .260. Showing a presence at the plate that has not been seen on the South Side since Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas was launching rockets into the outfield bleachers, Abreu was putting on a clinic while people started to really take notice.
His machine-like power is just one of the elements that makes Abreu so appealing. Another one is who he is as a person.
Abreu is seen by many as a team-first player in a me-first era. He does not seek the spotlight but it still comes his way. Instead of worrying about landing himself on the highlight reel, he is more worried about bringing his family over from Cuba safely. While Puig has been criticized for his showboating, Abreu is more reserved while focusing on how he can get better every day. His skillset, coupled with his personal demeanor, has made him one of the main storylines in the young baseball season so far.
Abreu and Puig will both be superstars in this league for years to come. While they have contrasting styles of play, they each are fun to watch in their own special ways. Luckily for baseball fans around the country, the spotlight once again is on the Sox and Abreu as he returns from the DL just in time to play against his former teammate.