By John Ruberry

“Baseball is a lot like life. It’s a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs. You make the most of your opportunities in baseball as you do in life.”
Longtime Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell.

For the 2018 Chicago White Sox, so far there have been a lot of downs. The South Siders, at 12-30, have the worst record in baseball. If their current pace continues, the Sox will lose 117 games and end up just a few games ahead of the most hapless teams since MLB expanded its schedule to 162 games, the 2003 Detroit Tigers and the 1962 New York Mets.

Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox, has been anything but sweet for them. Their record is a pitiful 5-16 there so far this season.. On a cold afternoon in April, just 974 fans were in attendance as the host dropped a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was at home when the team’s sole 2017 all star, right fielder Avisail Garcia, suffered a hamstring industry which placed him on the disabled list. Just two nights ago left fielder Nicky Delmonico was put on the DL after his right hand was broken after getting hit by a pitch. And it was on the South Side last month when reliever Danny Farquhar collapsed in the dugout when he suffered a severe brain aneurysm, which knocked him out for the season.

On the upside, the team slogan for 2018 is “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit,” a reference to manager Ricky Renteria, a patient man–that’s the type of skipper the Sox need–Ricky Renteria. While plagued by some bad baserunning miscues, the White Sox aren’t infected by laziness. It’s just that they don’t have very many good players. First baseman and designated hitter Jose Abreu is the only South Sider batting over 300. MSN Sports listed the best player so far this season for each team, for the Sox they chose right hand starter Reynaldo López, who coincidentally starts at home this afternoon against the Texas Rangers. His ERA is a 3.50, but his record is 0-3 with 46 innings under his belt, which led its writer Greg Papke to opine that it “shows how abject the team is that he has failed to win a game despite those solid numbers.”

Team statistics betray the awful truth. The White Sox rank next to last in Major League Baseball in ERA and runs scored and they’re at the bottom in WHIP, that is, walks plus hits per inning pitched.

“Ricky’s boys don’t quit, as the Sox marketing plan insists,” the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan remarked last week, “but neither do they score nor pitch.” The White Sox were expected to perform poorly this year, but not this badly. Last season they lost 95 games, but they ended last September one game over .500.

Back to the good news:: The White Sox are only nine games out of first place, but they play in MLB’s worst division, the American League Central, which the Cleveland Indians, at 22-22, leads. And the Sox are only a half-game behind the team ahead of them in the Central standings, the Kansas City Royals, who obviously are also enduring a horrible 2018.

But help is on the way. Last summer the White Sox traded their ace, Chris Sale, to the Boston Red Sox for several prospects, including Yoan Mocada, who is their starting second baseman this season, and hard throwing starter Michael Kopech, who is currently pitching in AAA and is expected to join the Sox later this season. Also last summer the White Sox traded another starter, Jose Quintana, to the Chicago Cubs for two of that organization’s top prospects, Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Crease.

Earlier this decade the Houston Astros, who the White Sox swept in the 2005 World Series, went through a similar rebuilding process. Now they are the reigning World Series champions. In 2011 the Astros lost 106 games, in 2012 they dropped 107 games, and the following season 111 games.

Then the upswing began.

UPDATE 7:20pm EDT: My post must have been good luck for the White Sox. The heretofore hard luck López pitched eight shutout innings this afternoon against the Rangers while giving up only two hits. His record is now I-3.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

If you are looking for a distraction from the news of the day and a lot of people are these days, you’re in luck.  Major League Baseball is giving us a some division and wild card races this season that (unless you are a fan of the NL East) really fits the bill.

Let’s start in the American League East The first Boston Red Sox Team without David Ortiz in 15 years has managed to keep first place in the East despite injuries to Price and Pedroia and the Bust that was Pablo Sandoval who they finally released eating tens of millions in salary. However their arch rivals the New York Yankees are under five games out and with more than a 3rd of their remaining games against either the Yanks or teams currently in First place they will be hard pressed to keep themselves 16 games over .500 when the season comes to a close.

In the Central Cleveland continues to prove that last year’s Pennant wasn’t a fluke sitting five games up, but both Minnesota under 2nd Year manager Paul Molitor and the 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals have no intention of going quietly. The next three weeks will be the key as the Tribe will be playing a 17 game where their opponents are Boston, the Yankees, Twins and Kansas City. If they get through that three week stretch still on top then Terry Francona has to feel really good about their chances for another shot at breaking their 69 year championship drought

In the west The Houston Astros are likely the only team breathing easy. With an 11.5 game lead in their division and only three games against a 1st place team before the last week of the season (and those against the Washington Nationals also sitting pretty and safe) it will take a massive collapse for Houston to fail to win their first division title since 2001 not to mention their first since joining the American League

AL Wild card: Wild is the way to describe this race. The Yankees currently hold the first wild card spot and two games behind them sits the Angels but seven count the SEVEN teams Minnesota, Kansas City, Baltimore, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto, sit within 3.5 games of that final spot. but are as close to the Yankees as they are to the Red Sox. More teams will be playing more meaningful games this later in the season then we’ve seen in a long time.

In the National League East Washington sits in a similar position as Houston in the AL west. With a comfortable 13.5 game lead and schedule lacking in division leaders their have an entire two months to try to figure out how to get by the LA Dodgers in October

The NL Central is where the action is.  The World Champion Cubs (It’s still odd to write that) hold a slim 1.5 game lead over StL with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh both under five games out. While August isn’t so bad 18 of their games in Sept will be against teams chasing them. If they win that division they’ll have earned it.

In the West the only question left to answer is will the LA Dodgers break the record for most wins in a season.? They are already at 83 wins and if they only play .500 ball for the rest of the season would finish with 105.  With 26 games remaining against sub .500 teams a record breaking 117 wins is very possible and an earth shattering 120 while unlikely is not outside the realm of possibility. One caveat, the two teams that hold the 116 win record for a single season, one failed to get to the World Series and the other failed to win it.

NL Wild Card. Thanks to the Dodgers both the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondback have no prayer to win their division but with 66 wins each, enough to lead the central division in either league they share the wild card lead with only St. Louis, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh anywhere near close enough for a real challenge. The one fly in the ointment? Both teams have two series left with the record chasing Dodgers.

Put simply half way into August two thirds of major league clubs are still playing meaningful games so if you are a baseball fan watching a game this week you can expect some excellent baseball.