The Twins Figure to be the Center of Attention
By Daniel Paulling
If someone would’ve told you the Minnesota Twins would be 0.5 games out of the division lead entering August 8, you would’ve called them crazy, right? After all, they lost their staff ace in Johan Santana and one of their best hitters in Torii Hunter and replaced them with Livan Hernandez and Delmon Young (at the cost of another great pitcher, Matt Garza).
Oh, and the Indians and Tigers figured to have two of the best teams in the American League.
Are you going to call me crazy when I say the Twins will win the division? Let me count some of the ways.
First, the White Sox’s pitching is starting to decline. Over the last 22 games, its pitching staff has an ERA clear over 6.00. Javier Vazquez has returned to earth harder than the US housing market after a hot start. John Danks couldn’t defeat the law of averages when it comes to lower-than-average BABIP, as his July ERA was 4.97.
Second, Minnesota has already received and will continue to receive the help of one Francisco Liriano. In his last 11 Class AA starts, he had an ERA under 3.00. In his first outing returning from injury, Liriano allowed no runs over six innings of work, striking out five. It was just the Indians, of course, but he looked like the Liriano of old.
Third, the White Sox feature older players who figure to fade down the stretch than the Twins. Chicago’s average age is 29.5, while the Twins’ figure is 27.3. Elder statesmen like Jim Thome (37), Ken Griffey Jr. (38), and Paul Konerko (32, but looking much older than that this season) represent the majority of Chicago’s starting lineup.
It’s all about the White Sox
By Robert Swift
The Chicago White Sox will win the American League Central this season; how you ask? By outlasting the Minnesota Twins in what is shaping up to be a downright slugfest as the last third of the season unfolds.
Now, being an unabashed lifelong fan of the Pale-Hose, I’m going to present my side and make my points based more on the collective heart of the team rather than their stats. Coincidentally, that is the same reason, in my opinion, the Chi-Sox will win the AL Central; heart more than stats; here we go.
Point I – “Destroy the Cub’s Dream Season”
These days, on the nostalgic side of the Windy City, the Cubs are enjoying a phenomenal season and have their eyes set on erasing the last of Major League Baseball’s leading “curses”. Winning the World Series on the 100th anniversary of their last championship would make for an ESPY, an Academy Award, and a feel good story for the ages all rolled up into one symbolic deep dish style pizza. However, if the White Sox could muscle into the series and crush the Cubbies and their little dream for redemption; that would be worth more than anything in the baseball cosmos.
Point II – Ozzie and Trader Ken need another championship
Many people in baseball and fans of other teams think that Chicago “stole” the 2005 World Series on a couple of very controversial and game changing calls during the playoffs. Nothing puts a sharper spur in your saddle than when someone questions your success. Winning the American League Central, the AL Pennant, and the World Series again, for the second time in four seasons would most likely silence the critics. In doing so, Guillen and Williams would finally be given the respect they have yet to incur.
Point III – “They hate each other”
Don’t let the sportsmanship fool ya, these two teams do not like each other. Granted, this isn’t “Yanks-Bo Sox” or “LA – San Fran”, but the rivalry has grown over the years. Dating back to the Jeff Torborg led White Sox teams of the versus the Tom Kelly Twins of the late 1980’s, there have been enough brush backs, bean balls, and bench clearing brawls to ensure a deep rooted, perpetual hatred of the opposition.
Lastly, the only stat that I will point out is that the ’08 White Sox are 16-13 in one run games and 6-2 in extra inning affairs. This team does not give up and they will definitely not lose the American League Central to the Minnesota Twinkies, not gonna happen!