White Sox

Breaking down what we learned in the 2019 White Sox season

Breaking down what we learned in the 2019 White Sox season

With the playoffs underway - and the White Sox not in them - we decided to look back on the 2019 season and take a glance into the future. The ‘team of the future’ just might have a lot to offer… and it might already be here.

We sat down with our Chuck Garfien, Vinnie Duber, Leila Rahimi, Ozzie Guillen and Scott Merkin, White Sox writer for MLB.com, to get their take on the South Siders. 

Following our look at the best storylines of 2019, we asked our experts to explain what insights they picked up from the 2019 season.

"We know what the White Sox have and we know what they don't have," says Chuck Garfien.

The 2019 season was a great glimpse into the future for the White Sox. The team was missing one of their highly touted young starters in Michael Kopech, but with Kopech returning for the 2020 season we can expect to see a nice jolt in the rotation.

"We learned that this team has a core," says Vinnie Duber. "A young core that's gonna be going forward to hopefully produce contenders on an annual basis."

The White Sox young core, made up of Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito and Jose Abreu (among others) showed off their talent in the 2019 season. Each had a brush with injury but it didn't stop them from producing on a level the White Sox haven't seen in a while.

Apart from the success in 2019, we also learned that there are some gaps that still need to be filled, one of which is starting pitching. While the starting rotation is good, it's not great, so this offseason should be interesting for sure.

Top 10 free-agent starting pitchers: Who will the White Sox sign?

"The base is there," Merkin said, "but they are still a little bit lacking in depth."

We'll have to wait and see what 2020 brings us, but as of now things are looking up and people are noticing the potential.

[MORE: Biggest need for 2020]

[MORE: Best storylines of 2019]

The 15 most underrated players in White Sox history

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AP

The 15 most underrated players in White Sox history

The term “underrated” is loosely defined and almost always is accompanied by some personal bias, but in general it can used to describe fan favorites who don’t always command the bright spotlight.

Almost every White Sox fan can think of at least one player they believe wasn’t appreciated enough during their time on the South Side. Trust me, I’ve seen your Kelly Wunch jerseys in the stands.

So with a historical assist from Chris Kamka and a few other members of the NBC Sports Chicago team, I came up with the 15 most underrated players in White Sox history. 

Click here to see the 15 most underrated players in White Sox franchise history.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Former White Sox bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee still impacting young fans

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NBC Sports Chicago

Former White Sox bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee still impacting young fans

Excuse me while I get nostalgic and recognize White Sox legend Man Soo Lee.

OK, he might not be a legend to everyone, but for anyone who was born between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s and frequented the left field bleachers at Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field between 2000 and 2006, then you probably know of Man Soo Lee. In fact, there’s a good chance he threw you a baseball at some point.

Man Soo Lee – or Lee Man-soo in his native South Korea – was the White Sox’s bullpen catcher from 2000-06. He has a World Series ring to his name and was one of the most fun-loving members of the 2005 White Sox.

But why am I writing about some random bullpen catcher? Well, it starts with Lee being briefly shown on the television broadcast of the May 8, 2005 White Sox-Blue Jays game that was replayed Monday on NBC Sports Chicago as part of our #SoxRewind series.

Just that quick shot of Man Soo Lee brought back some great memories of being at the ballpark. Like many young baseball fans, I was the type of kid that loved to get to games super early for batting practice. I would camp out in a perfect spot in the front row next to the White Sox bullpen and that meant Lee was close by, usually shagging fly balls.

And he was very generous with those baseballs.

Lee’s English wasn’t perfect, but he could still communicate with fans and he would always be goofing around. For example, it might take a quick game of Rock-Paper-Scissors to get a ball from him.

Over time, Lee came to recognize the fans he saw often, and that included me. I’d see him on the road in Minneapolis or Kansas City and he’d come by the stands, thank me for making the trip and usually drop me a ball. Today, working as a reporter, that type of interaction doesn’t seem like a big deal, but back then, as a young teenager, the bullpen catcher knowing your name was one of the coolest things in the world.

And I know I’m not the only one who still appreciates Man Soo Lee’s relationship with the fans. Just in sending out that tweet on Monday, I received similar sentiments in response:

Sadly, in doing some research for this piece, I came to find out that while Lee always looked like he was having so much fun, his time in Chicago wasn’t exactly easy on his family.

"It was a very tough time. Nobody understood my English although I studied it quite hard in Korea,” Lee told the Korea Times in December. “Racial discrimination was also bad, especially in the minor leagues. In the Major League, it was much better. Players were more relaxed."

The thing is, Man Soo Lee is an actual baseball legend in Korea. He was one of the first stars of the Korea Baseball Organization and pulled off the Triple Crown in 1984, leading the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average.

But in that same Korea Times story, he said he wasn’t prepared for being a nobody in the United States and spoke of the “meaninglessness” of his fame. The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s also made things tough. It’s not like bullpen catchers make a lot of money, even in Major League Baseball.

"We didn't have money,” he said. “We ordered one drink at Starbucks and shared it between (my wife and two sons). Chicago is very cold and one night we lost electricity. To save money, we stayed home under one blanket. It was a really tough time, but I got to spend lots of time with my boys and did many things with my family."

Lee went back to South Korea in 2006 and eventually became manager of the SK Wyverns. Today, he’s helping develop baseball in the country of Laos, teaching the game to underprivileged children. 

And hopefully he knows he had a strong impact on young baseball fans during his time in Chicago too.

The White Sox-Rangers game from May 17, 2005 will air Thursday at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. For the full White Sox Rewind schedule from the 2005 season, click here.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.