At the end of the 2019 season, Lucas Giolito made the bold proclamation that if the White Sox didn't make the postseason in 2020, they would not come close to what they were capable of doing.
The White Sox did make the playoffs in 2020, snapping the franchise's dozen-year postseason drought.
Now, Giolito's back with another definitive laying down of the team's expectations heading into 2021.
"We want to win a ring," the South Side staff ace said Tuesday. "We want to win a World Series."
On the eve of spring training — pitchers and catchers are due to report to Camelback Ranch on Wednesday — Giolito's words won't raise any eyebrows, won't strike anyone as a little overzealous, won't seem anything but appropriate for this White Sox team.
And that's the story, the difference between this spring and springs past.
Yes, these expectations have been set for a while, for many both inside and outside the organization from the moment Liam Hendriks drove a dagger into the heart of the White Sox 2020 campaign and eliminated them from the playoffs Oct. 1. Since, the White Sox swapped managers, added a bona fide Cy Young candidate to their rotation and went out and signed Hendriks, the best closer in baseball, to a four-year deal.
Rick Hahn's front office, which spent the last four years acquiring, developing and showcasing young talent that could prop a contention window open for years to come, focused on complementing that group with dependability and veteran knowhow this winter. That includes the hiring of new manager Tony La Russa, who has three World Series rings on his fingers, and the road map to get a team to the promised land.
Add what's new to what the White Sox accomplished in 2020 — they boasted the American League's most potent lineup, claimed two of the Junior Circuit's best starting pitchers and came within a game of the AL Central crown — and they're obvious contenders with obvious championship aspirations.
Frank Menechino, the team's hitting coach, came up with a snappy, marketing-friendly way to sum up what the team is expecting in 2021 when he told reporters that it's "World Series or bust."
So, no, Giolito wasn't breaking any news Tuesday. But he was summing up the coming weeks quite nicely.
Last spring, the talk of White Sox camp was the team's entry into winning time. This spring? It's all about the team's entry into winning-it-all time.
"We're at the point now where the word rebuild is completely out of the vocabulary," Giolito said. "We're a very, very good team, and we expect to win. That's pretty much where we're at."
Indeed, that's the case, the point to which the rebuild was building toward. These White Sox are contenders, perhaps in possession of what is, on paper, the best roster in the American League.
That alone won't kickstart any parades, of course. But from wondering if and when they would again hold realistic championship expectations, the White Sox have arrived at the point where having anything less just doesn't make sense.