South Side feels like home for All-Star hurler Lance Lynn


MINNEAPOLIS — There's an old commercial Chicago baseball fans know well.

Then-White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén and then-Cubs manager Lou Piniella have a Crosstown-themed rap battle of sorts with each other. It's quite something.

The exchange goes a little something like this:

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"I'm a South Side guy," Guillén says.

"I know, I can tell," Piniella retorts.

The lyrics have struck me as suddenly applicable. Because Lance Lynn, despite being a White Sox pitcher for all of seven months, is a South Side guy.

And White Sox fans sure can tell.

"I think that some of my things that I do on the mound really sit well with the South Siders," Lynn said Monday in Minnesota. "You can tell when I come out and warm up for games and stuff like that. They are yelling at me and like some of the things that are not the nicest things that I like to say but they just kind of come out when I compete.

"It’s definitely fun to play in front of those fans, and they enjoy the attitude that I bring, too."

It's hard to argue that Lynn has been anything but a perfect fit for these White Sox.

He's filled a need as a reliable third starting-pitching option behind Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel. He's provided leadership as a been-there, done-that veteran with a World Series ring on his finger. He's been an intense competitor with a bit of an on-field attitude. And he's been a fantastic starting pitcher who's contributed in a massive way to one of the best rotations in baseball and helped drive the bus for a team with World Series expectations.

All that's great. But he's also settled in nicely to a beloved role on the South Side: the White Sox player fans would most like to invite to their tailgate.

The feeling, folks will appreciate, is mutual.

"Whenever you have the fans supporting you and things like that, that’s what it’s all about," he said. "We play a game, but we play it for the fans to enjoy it. As long as they are enjoying me and I’m pitching well, I’m sure they will enjoy me more.

"Living in the suburbs of (the) Indianapolis area, the South Side has a tendency to be a little bit more of a home feeling for me than any other place I’ve played. I’m really enjoying it."

Much like White Sox fans are enjoying Lynn's presence, so too are the White Sox, who got exactly what they wanted when they dealt the promising career of Dane Dunning to the Texas Rangers in exchange for the final year of Lynn's contract. He picked up where he left off in Texas, where he was, quietly, one of the best pitchers in baseball the last two seasons.

Now he could be starting the All-Star Game for a contending White Sox team.

That kind of win-now deal is a hallmark of any team once it graduates from rebuilding mode to contending mode. But the White Sox, of course, have designs on contending for years to come. And so it doesn't take a great leap to look at Lynn's great season and ask whether he could factor into the team's plans beyond the current campaign.

Unsurprisingly, Lynn isn't thinking about it. At least he's not publicly talking about it. And considering the speak-his-mind approach he's brought to the White Sox this season — and the veteran leadership that's helped the team master the one-day-at-a-time focus — not talking about it and not thinking about it are probably one in the same.

"You really don’t try to think about the future. The more I try to control what’s going to happen in free agency, the worse things go," Lynn said. "So I just take it one start at a time, enjoy being with my teammates, enjoy where I’m at.

"Whatever happens after that happens. It’s part of the gig."

Lynn would know. He's been pitching in the bigs for a decade and has been through the business side of the game plenty, signing a free-agent deal with the Twins, getting traded to the Yankees and signing another free-agent deal with the Rangers all in the same calendar year, in 2018.

Who knows if the White Sox will put Lynn, 34, on their offseason shopping list. They have plans to put both Michael Kopech and Garrett Crochet in the rotation, with Giolito, Keuchel and Dylan Cease not expected to go anywhere. Plus, Carlos Rodón has been fantastic enough this season to warrant the same kinds of questions folks have about Lynn.

But Lynn has showed, without a doubt, that he's a reliable, dominant arm — "a big bastard," as he called himself over the weekend in Detroit — that can help lead a championship-caliber rotation. And considering fit and comfort can sometimes rank really, really high on a free agent's wish list, his homey feeling on the South Side could be a reason to bet on a reunion.

Of course, 2021 comes first. And if Lynn is helping to put rings on all his teammates' fingers, then he'll be a South Side legend forever.

Though he's well on his way to that status already.

"I just try to be myself," Lynn said. "That’s the main thing."

He's a South Side guy.

You can tell.

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