Despite a 2.45 ERA that’s fourth-best in the American League and a strikeout total that’s second only to Shane McClanahan, Dylan Cease didn’t make the All-Star team. More unfortunate: Should rotation plans hold, Cease won’t even be a candidate for the All-Star Game as a replacement for the original roster because he’s pitching on Sunday.
Had Cease made the initial cut, it would have been the ideal outcome for everybody. Cease would get the honor and enjoy the fanfare of a first All-Star selection that he earned, but those valuing his importance to the White Sox wouldn’t have to worry about it affecting his workload.
Maybe those selecting the team aren’t impressed by Cease leading the league in walks or having an ERA that’s enhanced by a double-digit total of unearned runs, but Cease was just named the AL Pitcher of the Month for June despite those flaws, so you can’t blame anybody for being surprised if they were suddenly held against him.
Cease didn’t sound like a guy who wanted the week off, either …
Cease has done enough interviews this week about the possibility of going to Los Angeles that he had his pertinent anecdotes picked out.
“That’d be incredible,” Cease said of potentially being chosen for the All-Star Game. “My twin brother and I watched every All-Star Game religiously when we were kids. I thought it was one of the coolest things ever. So yeah, it would definitely be special to be a part of that.”
… so there isn’t much of a silver lining for his omission. The best attempts at fashioning one reflect poorly on the organization.
For instance! The Sox probably would’ve tweeted a video of Cease’s announcement, and it would’ve drawn comparisons to the one the Sox posted about Tim Anderson …
… which drew comparisons to the video showing Anderson’s first All-Star announcement.
There are legitimate reasons for the shift in tone — first ASG versus second, pregame versus postgame following a win — but if social media had time and space limitations, an editor wouldn’t have seen a need to run this one.
A clubhouse more excited for Cease than Anderson could indicate a problem, but a clubhouse as excited for Cease as Anderson could also indicate a problem. Especially when such an announcement would come on the same day that Bob Nightengale’s column included a paragraph suggesting rifts in this particular clubhouse.
No one has been more disappointing than the Chicago White Sox, who must take a good hard look at what went wrong if they miss the playoffs. There have been a lot of whispers of unrest, cliques and the lack of player leadership inside the clubhouse tearing apart this talented team.
(A clubhouse less excited for Cease than Anderson would be mostly empty.)
Given that Nightengale is tight with Tony La Russa and has his own bathroom in the White Sox suites, I read this paragraph twice — first to process the letters into words and meaning, and then to figure out which White Sox personnel benefit from it, or at least they are shielded from direct fire.
By identifying “cliques” and “lack of player leadership,” it reads like an effort to protect management, but that only works if you think that management doesn’t have a hand in such issues. Considering Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams’ first attempt at a rebuild ended in a fractured clubhouse overseen by a manager nobody was allowed to replace until the end of the season, the instinct to mete out blame in the sequel should be overridden with a hearty “Who do you care? or “Doesn’t matter!”
For one, the White Sox are talented enough — and the AL Central lousy enough — to make this a weird footnote by the season’s end, and here’s hoping they do. But entertaining the worst-case scenario where another season falls by the wayside, the White Sox front office already used up its allotment for fooling fans in 2016. If rifts or tension or infighting drags this team down, consider it a product of a Jerry Reinsdorf organization’s dysfunctional insularity, and assume that the next 100 rebuilds will end the same way as long as all the principal architects are in place.