Several weeks ago, on Christmas Day 2021, the Los Angeles Lakers officially renamed Staples Center to Crypto.com Center. While I’m a much bigger baseball than basketball fan, the title change annoyed me a bit—the new name just felt wrong to say. Immediately, I recalled August 24th, 2016, when U.S. Cellular Field was infamously renamed to Guaranteed Rate Field. I vividly remember walking out of class that day after reading the news and just shaking my head my entire walk home. It felt like the rotten cherry on top of a horrible White Sox season, one that saw the team start 23-10 just to be well out of the playoff race by late August.
Yet here we are five seasons later, and the South Siders are in a much better position, even if the 2021 campaign ended in disappointment. Similarly, fans seem to have warmed up to the stadium name and questionable downward-facing red logo. “The Rate” has caught on as a common nickname, even if not as widely embraced as “The Cell” came to be.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to rank my top ten favorite moments since home became “Guaranteed Rate Field” back in 2016.
- Tim Anderson’s Walk-Off vs. the Tigers in 2019 (12-11 win on April 27)
- Brian Goodwin’s Walk-Off vs. the Indians in 2021 (2-1 win on August 1)
- Comeback from 6-0 deficit over Cubs in 2021 (17-13 on August 27)
- Jose Abreu Hits for the Cycle against the Giants in 2017 (13-1 win on September 9)
No. 10: Cease Debuts, Sox Come Back in Doubleheader Sweep over Tigers (2019)
This is a day that some White Sox fans might not remember, but it’s significant to me in that it marked a relatively high point in the course of the rebuild. On July 3rd, 2019, the South Siders came into the day 39-42 and then swept a doubleheader in front of raucous crowds. Dylan Cease debuted in a winning effort in the first game, laboring his way to a three-run, five-inning performance but dazzling the crowd with 6 strikeouts and fastballs touching 100 mph.
Down 5-2 in the seventh inning of the second game, a Ryan Cordell homer, and a couple more hits saw the home team force extras. The Tigers got one in the 10th, and the situation looked dire in the bottom half of the inning when Yoan Moncada stepped up to bat with nobody on and one out. He then launched a moonshot to right to tie the game, and Jose Abreu capped off the rally with an electric two-out, 3-2 count, three-run homer in the bottom of the 12th to send Detroit packing.
No. 9: Back-to-back-to-back-to-back Homers (2020)
On August 16th, 2020, the White Sox were floundering at 10-11 after a doubleheader loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The momentum of the season would then totally flip, however. Up 1-0 in the fifth inning, Yoan Moncada broke things open with a three-run jack to right field. Yasmani Grandal followed suit with a bomb of his own. Then Abreu. Then Eloy Jimenez. When the dust settled, the Sox had become just the 10th team in Major League history to hit four homers in a row. Starting with that game, Chicago would then go on a seven-game win streak and begin their march for the playoffs.
No. 8: 2019 Home Opener
The 2019 season was the first of the rebuild where it felt like the White Sox had a real shot of competing. Eloy Jimenez had joined the team, and other young players had begun to show promise. Thus, the April 5th home opener was a big deal, and the White Sox came through. Down 8-6 to the Seattle Mariners going into the seventh, Chicago scored one before Yoan Moncada roped a two-run single to center field to make things 9-8. Tim Anderson followed suit an inning later with a dinger, and the 33,000 in attendance went home happy with a 10-8 win over a Seattle team that was well over .500 to start the year.
No. 7: Playoff clincher (2020)
What felt like a giant weight was lifted off the Sox’s shoulders on September 17th, 2020. Chicago finally won the “big series” with a 3-1 record at home over Minnesota, and more importantly clinched their first playoff berth since 2008. Down 3-2 in the 7th inning with two outs, Jose Abreu beat out a fairly routine ground ball to shortstop to tie the game. Eloy followed suit with a run-scoring double and the White Sox held on for a 4-3 win. The following two weeks of baseball were less than ideal, but this day was still a great moment for Sox fans.
No. 6: Kopech Debut (2018)
There is nothing quite like a midseason pitching debut for a rebuilding team when it comes to crowd energy. At a time when several Sox prospects were performing well, Michael Kopech added to the hype with his August 21st debut. Although a lengthy rain delay curtailed his outing to just two innings, Kopech looked awesome with four strikeouts and lots of cheddar. The White Sox would ultimately lose 5-2, but fans got everything they wanted in just this moment:
No. 5: 2021 Home Opener
Following an encouraging series in Seattle to bring their record to 3-4, the 2021 White Sox worked around rain to hold their home opener against the Kansas City Royals on April 8th. With fans back in the seats at Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time since 2019, the South Siders delivered without hesitation. Moncada and Yermin Mercedes went back-to-back in the first inning with two outs to go up 3-0, and the Sox didn’t look back on their way to a 6-0 win. And oh yeah, Lance Lynn went nine innings for a complete game shutout. It would set the tone for a dominant 53-28 record at home, the best in the American League.
No. 4: Buehrle Retirement (2017)
At the beginning of the rebuild, there wasn’t a ton to be excited about just yet. Jimenez, Cease, and Robert had yet to be acquired, and the on-field product was unsurprisingly terrible. With that in mind, Mark Buehrle’s retirement on June 24th, 2017, was a wonderful bright spot on the South Side. One of the organization’s most accomplished and steady pitchers of all time, Buehrle went from fan favorite to franchise legend when his iconic number 56 went up on the Guaranteed Rate Field interior. Although James Shields spearheaded a 10-2 losing effort to the Oakland Athletics that day, Buehrle’s emotional ceremony still gave fans plenty to cheer about.
No. 3: Giolito No-Hitter (2020)
After breaking out in 2019, Lucas Giolito was poised for a dominant 2020 and mostly came through. He especially made a name for himself on August 25, 2020, when he no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates in Chicago in a 4-0 win. Striking out thirteen and walking just one, Giolito cruised through the opposing lineup before a nifty Adam Engel catch sealed the deal and began the celebration on-field. It deserves to be considered as one of the most dominant pitching performances of this century, as the Pirates mustered only two batted balls the entire night with a > .350 expected batting average. Only a jovial home crowd could have made this night better.
No. 2: Rodon No-Hitter (2021)
Carlos Rodon’s 2021 season ended on a pretty shaky note but was overall a great feel-good story. That rang especially true on April 14th, as the veteran lefty found himself pitching a perfect game in the ninth inning. It was already a great night on the South Side, as the hosts were crushing the Cleveland Indians 8-0 following a six-run first inning that featured a gargantuan Mercedes three-run tank. Rodon would lose the perfecto on a toe-grazing slider, but buckled down and secured the no-hitter just two batters later. Unlike Giolito’s no-no, Rodon was able to celebrate with a gleeful home crowd.
For a former top-five pick with a lengthy injury history, this moment was the proper culmination of so much hard work and determination.
No. 1: Game 3 ALDS 2021
Could it really be anything else? For those who were in attendance like me, no words can accurately capture the atmosphere that night on October 10th. The Houston Astros at first seemed to tame the fervent “blackout” crowd, jumping out to a 5-1 lead after the top of the third. Undaunted, Chicago roared back with a Yasmani Grandal two-run homer and an unforgettable Leury Garcia three-run jack. Buoyed by masterful relief performances behind rough outings by Cease and Kopech, the home team broke away for a 12-6 victory, the White Sox’s first playoff win since 2008.
What are some of your favorite “Guaranteed Rate Field” moments? Drop them below in the comments!
Featured Photo: White Sox/Twitter