CHICAGO — The White Sox learned a great deal about building a winning culture during the 2020 campaign, and that knowledge didn’t come solely from their 35 victories in 60 games.
Take the team’s final 10 regular-season contests as an example. The White Sox became the first American League squad to clinch a playoff spot with a home victory over the Twins on Sept. 17 and held a three-game lead in the AL Central at that point. They proceeded to lose eight of the next 10 games, including four straight at Cleveland, and dropped to the AL’s No. 7 seed.
Four months later, with White Sox
“When we clinched the playoff spot, we might have — I wouldn’t necessarily say we let our foot off the gas, but it was kind of like a relief, like, ‘We made it. We got in the playoffs,’” White Sox staff ace Lucas Giolito said Tuesday from Arizona on a Zoom call. “Then we all know that we went on a bad stretch immediately after that. It was definitely a big learning experience.
“After last year, we’re really going to adopt that mentality where we need to step on throats, we need to try to kill other teams until the very end. It doesn’t matter what our record is, it doesn’t matter if we’re in the playoffs, if we’re leading the division. All that matters is that we go out there expecting to win a game every single day — no matter if it’s April or September or the postseason — and we have that killer instinct, that killer mentality as a whole and we just get the job done.
“I don’t think there’s any more room for premature celebration. That’s for sure.”
Any mention of the word “rebuild” also has been stricken from the White Sox vernacular. That consistent losing but important developmental phase all but ended when Giolito threw six perfect innings during a Game 1 victory at Oakland in the AL Wild Card Series.
Now, the White Sox primary goal ranges far deeper than just getting to the playoffs. With Tony La Russa about to begin his second run as White Sox manager, the target is to win big and win big now.
“We want to win a ring. We want to win a World Series,” Giolito said. “For that to happen, we definitely need to improve in a lot of areas. With the player acquisitions and coaching acquisitions, we are already in a really good spot. But the AL Central is no slouch. Other teams have been putting some pieces together as well, so we just have to stay focused on our day-to-day, what we need to do each day individually and as a team to get better. Building the winning culture. I think we had the first steps of that last year.
“But there’s still so much more room to grow. That’s what we are intent on doing. Continuing to grow, get closer as a team, play really really solid baseball. Consistent baseball. And at the end of the day we want to win a World Series. That’s obviously the goal.”
With the Cubs taking a step back after a highly successful six-year run, the South Siders have a chance to make Chicago a White Sox city. That label doesn’t concern Giolito as much as the process needed to become a championship team.
“Yeah, it’d be cool for more people to care about the White Sox in Chicago,” Giolito said. “But the only way that’s going to happen is if we win. I wouldn’t say there’s too much conversation to be had, because all that’s going to fall into place if we win games and go deep and, hopefully, win a ring.”