Paradise Lost, For Now: On what would have been Opening Day, Cubs & White Sox fans continue to wait

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – MARCH 25: A general view of Guaranteed Rate Field where the Chicago White Sox were scheduled to open the season tomorrow against the Kansas City Royals on March 25, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Major League baseball has delayed the season due to the COVID-19 crisis. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – If you’re a White Sox fan, this game wasn’t in the waiting since late September of last year. For die-hards, the hope for this kind of an Opening Day goes back to December 6, 2016.

That’s when the team traded away ace Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in a prospect-filled deal that included Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. It was the start of the team’s total rebuild, which meant little success at the major league level for a few years.

After difficult 2017, 2018, and 2019 season which featured a young team looking to grow, 2020 was seen as the year for a breakthrough. With a group of more experienced prospects and the addition of a few strong veteran players, this looked like the year the White Sox would get their first playoff appearance since 2008.

Thursday was supposed to be the start of it as the team was slated to open the season against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans for the White Sox and every other team in baseball.

Today’s home opener is postponed till further notice, just like every other around the MLB, as this much anticipated day for White Sox fans is on hold. It’s the first time since 1995 that opening day has been postponed, with the entire start of the season pushed back till late April and the season shortened to 144 games due to a player’s strike.

On Twitter, the team sent their best to fans on a difficult day, posting this video featuring players and fan messages that was narrated by actor LaRoyce Hawkins, a native of Harvey.

The Cubs are in the same position as their opener that was supposed to be against the Brewers in Milwaukee was postponed as well. It was to be a first of 162 games that would answer a lot of questions about the club and which direction they would go under new manager David Ross.

A healthy amount of the team’s core was back, now four years removed from a World Series title. With few major additions to the roster, many wondered if the group could rediscover the magic from a few years back to make one more championship run in this window.

So when might these games be made up, and how many could be played? That’s a guessing game in some ways with the continued evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner Rob Manfred told Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Wednesday night that he hopes to have players start working out again sometime in May, but he has no solid timeline.

For right now, fans have to sit and wait, hoping that the opening day that was supposed to be here Thursday will arrive sooner than later.

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