Too Early To Make Conclusions

20140124_mm_soxfest0240Baseball’s regular season is 162 games long.

That fact everybody knows, but during this time every season it is forgotten.

After a week worth of games, teams that were predicted to finish at the bottom of the standings and now find themselves on top for the moment act as if their team is primed for a deep playoff run. The kool-aid gets sipped in both the locker room and throughout the fan base.

Also, fans are quick to push the panic button if their favorite ball club falls under .500 this early in the year.

Whether your team falls in the first or second category, it is time to relax. Seasons are not defined by what occurs in April. Yes, every game does matter but getting off to a slow start does not mean that 2015 is a wash.

This year’s Chicago White Sox have been predicted by some to give the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians a run for their money. While some popular publications were less positive and proclaimed 78-80 wins would be a reasonable prediction for this year’s club, the overall consensus was that the White Sox would be a dark horse to capture the AL Central.

With a rotation that features Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana, Chicago should at least have a shot in three out of every five games. That is why it was troubling for some when the White Sox started 0-4 and two of those losses happened with Samardzija and Quintana on the bump.

People started throwing out historical facts after the White Sox were swept by the defending AL Champion Royals and lost the first game of the series against the lowly Minnesota Twins. Journalists began researching how many teams started the season on a four-game losing streak and made the playoffs. Prognosticators started preaching that Chicago would be an after-thought in the division race once again.

The emotional high White Sox fans had coming off of the most exciting offseason in recent memory quickly started to go away. “When will the Sox get rid of Robin Ventura” screamed a spectator on the concourse after the home opener on Friday.

Without trying to sound like the quarterback of that team up north, R-E-L-A-X.

It is understandable to look at the Royals and Tigers hot starts and begin to think that this was all too good to be true. Maybe the holes at the back of the rotation are too glaring to mask. Maybe Ventura is not fit to manage a team, let alone handle a bullpen. These were just two conclusions made after the first four games of the season. Then, the feeling began to change after the fourth inning on Saturday.

From that point, on Samardzija settled down and Sale returned to the scene with a splash. The two arms that comprise one of the best one-two punches in baseball showed why expectations were so high this season. The concern that surrounded the team started to transform into optimism.

Adam LaRoche went from “the next Adam Dunn” to the best power-hitting lefty in Chicago since Jim Thome. Adam Eaton and Melky Cabrera went from busts to table setters. The bullpen went from dismal to dominant.

That all being said, it is also too early to say that the White Sox have turned a corner. Quite frankly it is way too soon to make any conclusions about the season. For all we know the Tigers and Royals will come back down to earth, leading to a four-team race. Or, those two can continue to run away with the division, leaving the White Sox in their dust.

Nobody really knows in April what will happen when the postseason rolls around. That is the beauty of baseball.