Column: Chicago White Sox and Cubs share the pain after deadline day flops

It was a day of shock and pain for Chicago baseball fans.

the fright of seeing Willson Contreras still in a Cubs uniform after the trade deadline was something no one expected, while the agony of watching the The White Sox stay put on the deadline It was another punch in the gut for fans who were already immune to pain.

At least Red Sox GM Rick Hahn and Cubs president Jed Hoyer can relate and argue over who the nastiest Twitter trolls are.

We’ll start with Hahn, whose Sox remain accidental contenders because they play in the most mediocre division in baseball.

A season of endless frustration for Sox fans should have made Tuesday’s lack of movement that much easier to deal with. Waiting for the team to wake up from their four-month malaise has been an exercise in futility, with every step forward followed by a comedic fall and every brilliant performance from Dylan Cease followed by a scrap.

In the middle of the mess is manager Tony La Russa, who was back in the spotlight for momentarily closing his eyes while standing in the dugout Monday night, prompting internet memes and jokes that he was sleeping in the dugout. worked.

But even in the most difficult season in most fans’ memory, there was always a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Minnesota Twins weren’t much better than the Sox, and the Cleveland Guardians were playing over their heads. All the Red Sox had to do was catch a lightning bolt for an extended hot streak, and the division would be theirs. Another solid left-handed bat, a couple more arms in the bullpen, and the Sox could run.

But that wasn’t in the cards. Except for a smaller deal Monday for left-handed reliever Jake Diekmanthe Sox stood still at the deadline.

Hahn acknowledged Tuesday that he was “sleep deprived” and in a “bad mood” like everyone else on the South Side, including his manager. Hahn said he was “disappointed” that he couldn’t convert any of his targets and told Sox fans he was “right there with you” in terms of his frustration.

More importantly, he defused the narrative that the Sox were unwilling to add to the roster to improve down the stretch, getting president Jerry Reinsdorf off the hook.

“I wouldn’t put it as a money issue because at no time did we go to Jerry for anything and they said no during the last period of time that we’ve been talking deals,” Hahn said. “Look, it was a different market this year.”

In fact, it was a different market, with more buyers than sellers. But that didn’t stop the New York Yankees, San Diego Padres or the Seattle Mariners to take risks and improve.

Of course, Hahn said he still has faith that the roster that entered Tuesday with a .500 record will suddenly find itself. He said the Sox need to “recapture” the hubris of 2020 and 2021, though it’s hard to brag when there’s nothing to brag about. Hahn said he doesn’t believe in “change for change’s sake,” feeling the clubhouse doesn’t need to be shaken.

When asked if he was satisfied with the job La Russa has done, Hahn sidestepped the subject. When asked if there’s anything La Russa could do to make the Sox better, he responded, “Is there anything the manager and coaches can do to make this team better?”

Uh, the question was about the manager.

“Sure, everyone is involved in trying to make this team better,” Hahn said, “and if we don’t get to the highest level that we think is appropriate for the talent on this team, all of us, myself included, should be held accountable. ”

But La Russa is the one who absorbs most of the criticism for the failure.

“Well, you shouldn’t listen to the criticism,” Hahn said. “That’s what I try to do. You know it.”

The Sox did not make La Russa available before the game.

Meanwhile, Hoyer was in super spin mode on Tuesday trying to explain what happened with Contreras.

“Willson is a really valuable player, he’s been a great Cub for six years and we never got to that place where we felt close to making a deal to finish his tenure here,” Hoyer said.

In other words, the market for one of the best hitting catchers in the game did not exist, even though Hoyer had months to find a business partner. The moment the Washington Nationals put Juan Soto on the trade market was the moment Hoyer should have realized he needed to speed up the Contreras process.

But he got things wrong, just like he did last year with Kris Bryant. So instead of getting valuable prospects for Contreras, he’ll have a disgruntled Contreras playing for a bad Cubs team after spending the entire season dealing with the possibility of being traded.

There are no rules that say you have to wait until the deadline to make a move. Maybe Hoyer just likes the drama of the last-minute deal. Either way, he blew it, and the Cubs can only get a draft pick as compensation for their valuable trade chip should Contreras sign elsewhere in free agency.

Some Cubs fans may be happy for Contreras to stay with the team for the next two months, but unless he is re-signed after the season, it will be one of the biggest mistakes of the Hoyer era, no matter how long it lasts. .

The long goodbye will last a little longer.

Group hug, anyone?

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