A Glimpse of What Could Have Been: Luis Robert’s Home Run at Wrigley Field
There’s an alternate universe where Luis Robert’s seventh inning home run on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field is an era-defining moment in Chicago baseball. It could have been a symbolic ‘passing of the torch’ between a Cubs team that thrived in the second half of the 2010s — three straight NLCS appearances, one World Series championship — and a White Sox team poised to dominate the 2020s. It could have stamped Robert’s MVP candidacy*, minted the South Siders as a World Series threat, and asserted the Sox’s ascension over a Cubs team that’s already pretty good again.
However, Luis Robert’s seventh inning home run against the Cubs on Tuesday night did not mean any of that. It barely meant anything at all for a White Sox team in fourth place in the worst division in baseball, one that’s only made headlines this season for how embarrassing they’ve become. Even still, it’s worth celebrating the magnificence of that homer.
Cubs fans are probably still trying to figure out why manager David Ross decided to pitch to Robert in a tie game with the bases empty and two outs. Robert, once hyped as the ‘Cuban Mike Trout,’ has nearly fulfilled that promise this year by putting up incredible numbers on a less-than-ideal team. As soon as Robert connected, he turned around and had a few words for Cubs catcher Yan Gomes. It doesn’t get any better than this in a crosstown rivalry — at least if you forget the Sox are having a nightmare year.
The best part of Robert’s home run was perhaps the satisfaction it brought in silencing some vocal Cubs fans who likely attended prestigious schools such as New Trier.
Robert — already a 5.0 WAR player with a 140 OPS+ — is having one of the better seasons in White Sox franchise history. It’s unfortunate that his exceptional performance is being wasted on a team that has failed to live up to expectations.
This was supposed to be the White Sox’s championship window, the reason they openly tanked after trading ace Chris Sale back in 2016. However, the Sox have stumbled on their path to glory. Ownership’s reluctance to invest adequately prevented them from acquiring players like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, though they did manage to sign Machado’s brother-in-law in hopes of striking a deal. Furthermore, Jerry Reinsdorf’s interference in the hiring of old friend Tony La Russa as manager has proven less than successful, despite widespread skepticism. Incompetency in filling lineup holes, forcing unsuitable players into outfield positions, clubhouse disarray, and a star player suffering injury on the field have all contributed to this disappointing season. Regrettably, these setbacks are not unfamiliar to White Sox fans.
Robert’s magnificent homer at Wrigley could have embodied everything the White Sox had envisioned. Instead, it served as a fleeting reminder of what their season should have been, had they not faltered.
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