Siberian Baseball

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Well, this just got interesting

The White Sox game in Minneapolis just ended a few minutes ago in extra innings, with the Twins completing the sweep and giving themselves a slim 1/2 game margin in the AL Central.

For those up to date on their SportsCenter clinching celebrations, the Red Sox have a spot, the Rays have a spot and the Angels clinched in mid-August, leaving Chicago and Minnesota to duke it out for the final playoff spot.

The Twins got the better end of the series.

Now, as Cubs fans quietly whisper about the wisdom of printing World Series tickets by virtue of their best record in the National League, Sox fans anxiously watch the weekend series at the Cell with one eye on the out of town scoreboard.

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but if you could choose three games to determine your fate would it be against the Royals, who never contend but have had a hand in the AL Central two of three years now or the Indians, who were expected to run with the Tigers for the Central crown before the bottom dropped out on both teams?

(Quick time out. Which of those statements would have sounded strangest in early March? Indians and Tigers in the toilet before the All-Star break? White Sox and Twins in the mix with three to play? Cubs with the best record in the NL? The Rays winning the AL East? Seriously, this year is a total funhouse.)

Now, the good news.

Go back two years and the Twins were playing out of their minds down the stretch, winning game after game when - and stop me if you've heard this one - they had no business winning that often.

As Joe Mauer became the first batting champ while playing as an everyday catcher, the Twins trailed the Tigers into the final weekend against the White Sox. Detroit had Kansas City at their own park.

I'll turn it over to me for the breakdown:

Regardless of where you are or how good you think your team will or will not be, strange things can happen at both ends of the season. Just ask the Royals.

With that in mind, we were at the Twins game this afternoon to see a game that on paper in April and May should have been the Twins serving as spoilers to a White Sox title defense run. In practice, it was Kansas City pulling three games from deep in its collective ass to knock the Tigers from the top spot and give the Twins the division title for the fourth time in five years.

So, not only is there historical precedent, but with the teams involved. The Royals have played the frontrunner on the road and swept before.

Is it possible that the Royals are just better at playing the spoiler than other teams? Granted, they get plenty of practice where others teams fold under bad attitudes and crushing expectations, but could they really be the best spoilers in the league?

I'm totally serious about this.

Francisco Liriano starts for the Twins tomorrow, John Danks for the Southsiders. I'd post who they start against, but I'm betting no one else has heard from them unless they have teams in several AL-only keeper leagues.

Oh, and the "Post-Season 2008" tag just got minted for this post. This is the second most exciting thing that's happened today.

Late edit:

The teams that have tickets punched for the postseason are:

Los Angeles

Tampa Bay
Los Angeles (by way of Anaheim, etc.)

(Image from:

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