They fought until the very end, but ultimately the Chicago White Sox just didn't have enough left to take home the crown in the American League Central division.
That distinction belongs to the Detroit Tigers, who have now won back-to-back titles in the AL Central.
Congratulations to the Tigers. They earned it—at least I think they did. Didn't they?
Well, let's just say the White Sox certainly helped them out a bit.
After taking a three-game lead on Detroit on September 17th, the White Sox proceeded to go 4-10 over their next 14 games, while the Tigers went 10-4 during that span—and that was all she wrote.
If the White Sox had just played .500 ball over those 14 games, they would have at least been tied with two games remaining.
But they just couldn't get it done.
A team that spent much of the season near the top of the league at hitting with runners in scoring position just couldn't do it when they needed it the most, as they hit .217 with RISP for the month of September.
There really is no way to sugarcoat it: they simply folded under pressure.
Even GM Kenny Williams admitted (via the Chicago Tribune) that the team was probably putting too much pressure on themselves in those situations as the race got closer, and they just couldn't relax. He added that it's hard to call the season a success, because they had the division in their grasp and let it slip away.
I know that many people—including myself—have said that the White Sox weren't supposed to be there in the first place, but the fact is that they were there and they collapsed.
In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter if the Tigers won the division or if the White Sox gave it to them—what's done is done.
However, a team that was predicted by many to lose 90 games found a way to remain relevant until the very end, so credit should be given to the players and manager Robin Ventura for that. They certainly made it a fun and exciting season on the south side of Chicago.
That being said, it will certainly be a long winter for the White Sox and their fans as they ponder what could have been.
The hope is that they can keep the core of the team together, add some pieces and make a run at it next year. Maybe the way this season ended will add fuel to the fire for next season.
Opening day 2013 is set for April 1st at home against none other than the Kansas City Royals, who played a huge part in keeping the White Sox out of the playoffs by beating them 12 out of 18 times.
It would do a lot for the White Sox's confidence to start next season by beating up on the Royals, but right now that seems like forever—six months to be exact.
For now, it's on to the postseason with the Detroit Tigers representing the AL Central division.
So for White Sox fans, there's really only a few things you can say to the Tigers and their fans at this point.
Congratulations, good luck and you're welcome.