Column: Please Rain, Don’t Go Away
A day late. The all-powerful gods of baseball left what should have been the best day of the season out in the rain. For White Sox fans, with José Quintana on the mound, opening day was always going to be the pinnacle of the season. For a team beginning a rebuild, it doesn’t get any better than the first day of baseball with the team’s best pitcher on the mound.
Opening day is the start of the race: everyone lined up, side by side. Each competitor relearns the smile that arises from their past into their present; it’s the smile that originates in the heart of children. And the fans, dressed in apparel that has remained shelved since last season, they share the same smiles. For everyone involved in opening day, the return of the baseball season is analogous to the first day of school, but baseball is so much more fun.
So, when the White Sox, rolled out in Mustang Convertibles, and the Tigers, the team from Detroit and the team without an escort of Ford cars, took to Guaranteed Rate Field on April 3, everyone in attendance was ready to play ball, despite the weather forecast. Perhaps, “everyone” excludes the baseball gods, for nothing halted the weather. A delay turned into a full-blown rainout. White Sox fans faced one more day before seeing their ace in action.
When opening day part two arrived less than 24 hours later, the mood had dampened with the rain beaten grass. Players went straight to business and fans abstained from braving the weather two nights in a row. Quintana toed the rubber and went about the top of the 1st in his fashion of last season and gave up no runs, and Melky Cabrera scored Tyler Saladino on a double in the bottom of the first to give the White Sox a one run lead heading into the second.
Quintana, an asset remaining to be sold for young talent to help the rebuild, went back out to the mound to continue the 2nd inning in last inning’s form, last season’s form. However, this season is not last season. With runners on 1st and 3rd and a 2–2 count, Quintana threw a breaking ball low and inside to Jacoby Jones who took it and pulled it out into the leftfield bullpen for a three run homer, the first of his career.
Were the White Sox already headed down the rebuilding path strewn with poor perfomances? Could the team not give fans an exciting start before taking the form of a team suffering in the short-term in hopes of long-term payoffs?
Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer on a full count with two outs in the same inning.
Ian Kinsler hit another homerun, a solo-shot, two innings later.
There was no opening day part two. The rain washed away the shine of the brand new baseball season the day before. Surely, the Tigers found game no. 1 of the 2017 season quite happily. Their offense was powerful, and Justin Verlander struck out 10 White Sox hitters. The final score was 6–3.
For the White Sox, opening day was less of a celebration of baseball’s return and more of an excessively loud alarm clock calling fans and players back to a world of commutes, jobs, and homework. Dreams of the future gave way to the truths of the present. Up until the first game, it was easy to focus on the future, the goal. This first dose of reality of the new season brought out the truth of this season and buried the distant dream under the weight of the present.
Unfortunately, the rain had to stop, and the dream had to give way to game one of 162 against the Detroit Tigers. The rebuild began.