Rebuilding White Sox Making Most Of Winning Moments

With fog, music and more, the White Sox are enjoying their victories.

Chris Emma
June 12, 2018 - 11:20 pm
White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada, center

David Banks/USA Today Sports

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By Chris Emma--

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Fog filled the clubhouse as the doors opened following the White Sox's 5-1 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night, and a team staffer lowered the music pumping and shut off the strobe light.

Players made their way back to the showers and the scene ended inside the White Sox's quarters along the third-base side at Guaranteed Rate Field as starter James Shields emerged from a chair in the corner nearest the clubhouse entrance.

The White Sox improved to 23-42 on the season following a quality outing by Shields, who allowed one run over seven innings of work for his second win -- and his first since Opening Day. The 36-year-old Shields, who surpassed the 2,500-inning mark for his career, seemed subdued after a postgame rave for his young team to enjoy.

"We're trying to celebrate our wins," Shields said. 

A successful 2018 season for the White Sox would mean a foundation has been set for years to come. Learning how to win -- and enjoying those moments -- is certainly a part of it. 

The White Sox haven't had much to celebrate in what has been a season of struggles thus far, but they have played quality baseball as of late. The fog machine and strobe light appeared in late May, though nobody knows who came up with the idea.

Starter Lucas Giolito asked a clubhouse attendant if he knew who brought in the theatrics but came up empty with the answer.

"It's a mystery," Giolito said.

His best guess was Shields, a veteran of good times and bad whose even-keeled nature has been important for teammates like Giolito working through their first full season in the majors.

Shields played coy to how the new victory parties started, but it shouldn't be a surprise if it was his idea. After all, he's constantly monitoring the personality of his team and can sense when teammates are pressing. While the White Sox work for their rotation of the future, Shields has been looking after the people behind the potential.

Meanwhile, Shields has done well in reinventing himself with a different arm slot to create deception. His ERA dropped to 4.63 and his FIP is down to 4.45 while hitters struggle more often to recognize what pitch is coming. Manager Rick Renteria sees a diverse pitch selection being presented in a unique way.

Shields has been working on becoming a new pitcher since last year, when he had a 5.23 ERA.

"He's got great experience, a reinvented approach and continues to show everybody he can pitch," Renteria said.

It was only 10 days ago Shields spoke of his frustrations with a focus on rebuilding and not winning. Having pitched on the World Series stage, being a part of a losing team comes with its difficulties. That all could change for Shields if he continues to pitch like he did Tuesday, when he threw 101 pitches against the first-place Indians and allowed just four hits.

The White Sox could trade Shields -- who's owed a $2 million buyout next season if his $16 million team option is turned down -- ahead of the trade deadline. Though he likely wouldn't return much, it would be a clean exchange of a veteran who could perhaps bring quality innings for a contender for a prospect who could help the White Sox down the road.

Shields would be leaving behind a White Sox team that's in a good place -- and an organization that could be a World Series contender in due time.

"I'm happy to be a part of this club now," shortstop Tim Anderson said. "The way things are going, hopefully we can look back at times like this and laugh at them. We're moving in the right direction. I like being the underdog on teams like this, because you get to see guys grow. The ultimate goal is to bring a championship. That's what we're trying to do here."

Tuesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field had reasons for excitement. Yoan Moncada led off the game with a homer for the fourth time this season, then Yolmer Sanchez followed with a long ball of his own. Matt Davidson knocked in two runs with a pair of RBI doubles and reached base with his 32nd walk of the season. Then there was Shields, who pitched well once again and gave his team the party favors -- allegedly.

Comparisons between Chicago's two ballclubs and their rebuilds this decade have been far too frequent and are often flawed. But at the least, both have postgame parties in common. 

The Cubs in 2015 turned their cramped clubhouse into a nightclub after each home victory at Wrigley Field. A year later, with a state-of-the-art clubhouse built, the Cubs had their own party room for each postgame celebration.

During the grind of a 162-game regular season, in a sport that can be so tedious at times, the opportunity to celebrate is important. The champagne flow after a division title, pennant victory or a World Series is a time-honored tradition, but there's nothing wrong with a little fun after a win on a Tuesday in June -- even for a fourth-place team.

If all goes according to plan and the White Sox have their way, there will be plenty more postgame parties ahead.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.