It has been a rough season for the Chicago White Sox and first-year manager Pedro Grifol. That was true even before Saturday's melee that was touched off by the sparring match between Tim Anderson and Cleveland Guardians star Jose Ramirez.
While you hate to see that kind of fisticuffs, if you're looking for a silver lining, it's that at least both clubs are competing with a spark of apparent passion. In a roundabout way, this speaks to something Grifol told the Chicago Sun-Times the day before: "This is not a 'just finish the season out' type of two months for us. We're never going to compromise a major league win, because they're really, really hard to come by."
Over the last eight weeks of the regular season, most of the national coverage will be pointed at the teams still battling for the playoffs and, after that, hoping to find a path to the World Series. That's as it should be; those teams have earned it.
Nevertheless, every team has things to play for down the stretch. In a sense, teams out of the running like Grifol's ChiSox have the luxury of getting a running start on the 2024 season and beyond. While it can be a challenge to transmit that message to a clubhouse full of players who hoped for better, that doesn't make it less true.
These games matter, for every team. As we run through this month's Stock Watch, determining each club's prime directive will be our mission.