Column: 10 reasons for Chicago White Sox fans to be optimistic about 2023, despite SoxFest cancellation

A Chicago White Sox fan stepped up to the microphone during a session with players at SoxFest in 2001 and asked pitcher Kip Wells a simple question.

“What are you going to do with those rides?” she asked. “He has taken me to drink.”

Was a typical SoxFest momentand Wells didn’t take it personally.

“I know,” Wells replied with a sheepish smile. “I am the one who accompanies them.”

SoxFest tends to be a bit more edgy than its counterpart, the Cubs Convention, with more forceful questions and some heated discussions between fans and management. When executive vice president Ken Williams was general manager, you could see the steam coming off his head. Sox fans don’t mince words.

For reasons that are not explained, the organization chose not to hold SoxFest this winter, a decision that has generated a tremendous reaction on Twitter and the Internet, especially after the cubs held their convention Last weekend.

SoxFest was understandably canceled in 2021 and 2022 due to the pandemic, but several teams, including the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, resumed their fan festivals this month. Were the White Sox trying to avoid the wrath of the fans, or was there another reason for the decision?

It does not matter now. What done is done. And with just over three weeks to go before spring training begins in Glendale, Arizona, the Sox desperately need help getting fans excited about what’s in store for the 2023 season.

Fortunately, we are here to help.

Here are 10 things to look forward to in 2023.

1. It couldn’t get worse

This is obvious. The Sox were overconfident going into 2022, from top management to the players, but they spent most of the season trying to get to .500. Injuries were part of the struggles, but underachieving stars like Yasmani Grandal, Yoán Moncada and Lucas Giolito also played a part in the mess. Motivation shouldn’t be a problem in ’23.

2. Pedro Grifol is not Tony La Russa

SoxFest would have been the perfect time to meet the new manager. Oh good. At first glance, Grifol seems like the perfect antidote to La Russa, and he’ll get a chance to prove himself in spring training. Every new manager deserves a honeymoon period. How long Grifol lasts will depend on how the Sox start the season.

3. The chip on Dylan Cease’s shoulder

After being left out of the American League All-Star team last summer, the team’s poet laureate used the slight as motivation. “Just trying to win is motivation enough for me,” he said after coming back from the break. “But I’ll take any chip on my shoulder that I can get my hands on.” The chip worked and Cesar finished second in the AL Cy Young voting. It’s going to be hard to ignore Cease this time around if he continues to dominate hitters like he did in ’22, but the chip must remain.

4. Andrew Vaughn is out of the outfield

Vaughn did his best, but with minus-14 defensive runs saved, he ranked as the second-worst defensive outfielder in the American League behind the Seattle Mariners’ Jesse Winker (minus-16). Without José Abreu, Vaughn will return to his natural position at the start, with deft fielding Andres Benintendi playing left and Eloy Jiménez becoming the leading designated hitter. Sox pitchers should benefit from the trade.

5. Tim Anderson is healthy again

After surgery in early August to repair a sagittal band tear in the middle finger of his left hand, Anderson was scheduled to return for the final weeks of the season. He never came back but must be fully healed and ready to return to his first half of form. Anderson has two seasons before free agency. But after seeing how much Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson were paid this winter, he should be prepared to improve defensively and stay on the field.

6. Garrett Crochet will eventually return

It is unknown when the lefty will be added to the Sox bullpen. After Crochet missed 2022 following Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox plan to start him at Triple-A and control his workload. But his importance is magnified with closer Liam Hendriks battling non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and the Sox will need Crochet in the second half for a postseason run.

7. ‘Hello, Mom!’ day of the talking bobblehead

The coveted talking head of Eloy Jiménez go to the first 20,000 fans to show up May 13 against the Houston Astros. Eloy’s mom is not included.

8. Reaction to Joe Kelly’s book

After a dismal start to his Sox career, Kelly finished with a 1.13 ERA in his last nine appearances, showing signs of his old self. With the release this spring of his new book, “A damn near perfect game,” Kelly will be in the spotlight wherever he goes, just the way he prefers, after shredding Carlos Correa, Josh Donaldson, the Astros and others. He now he has no choice but to pitch well this season.

9. Two new bars on the top floor

The Red Sox are opening two upper deck drinking spots they call “Vista Bars” in Sections 516 and 548. The team posted two photos of the bars, which will be available to all fans and also via group sales. Selling tickets to the top deck has been a difficult task, except for opening day and the City Series against the Cubs, so it makes sense to try to lure fans up to the 500 level.

10. The rehabilitation of Liam Hendriks

Cesar told reporters last week that the news about hendriks it was “pretty devastating” for everyone. “But it sounds like something he can get over, and obviously it’s much more important than baseball,” he said. “We are all with him.” Everyone agrees that Hendriks will get through this. Hopefully he’ll be back on the mound soon, but even seeing a healthy Hendriks in street clothes would be an inspiring sight for Sox Nation.


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