For most Chicago White Sox fans, the 2010 season was over a long time ago. Eleven months ago, in fact.
To be perfectly precise, the 2010 MLB season ended for many Chicago White Sox fans October 11, 2009—the day the Minnesota Twins played their final game in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
I talked it over with many a Sox supporter during the offseason: the artificial turf would be gone, which meant all those ground balls the Twins hit for singles would be outs.
The horrendous baggie in right field would be a thing of the past, as would the portable football seats beyond the outfield fence. Best of all, the Twins would be playing outside. Outside. The way the game was meant to be played.
With all those factors working against them, those lousy Twinkies would surely collapse in the first month of the season and cease to haunt the dreams of Sox fans everywhere.
It couldn't possibly go any other way.
Then in March, the dream of the Twins finally being what everyone thought they were—mediocre—flashed into an inconceivable, irrefutable reality.
Joe Nathan, the stalwart Minnesota closer, was having arm surgery and would be out for the season.
The entire season.
In June, the deal was settled when Justin Morneau suffered a concussion in a game against Toronto and went on the disabled list. Without Morneau complementing an already powered-down Joe Mauer, it was time to fold up the tents and start thinking about whether Brett Favre was returning to the Vikings.
The Twins were done.
It was all a dream
Yet, here we are in mid-August, and the Twins are leading the division by three games. They're pitching well, hitting when they need to, and getting the wins. Meanwhile, the White Sox are stumbling in the clutch, dropping key games to the Twins and Tigers in a dreadful 2-5 week of play.
That dream of the Twins not mattering? Yeah, it was only a dream.
Veteran ballplayers will never say the word "panic" to a reporter. To the media, the word not only suggests a sense of urgency, it suggests outright fear. A club that's panicked is a lost cause. And rightfully so.
Still, the White Sox have to be in panic mode at this point and if not, the very ends of desperation.
-In his last five starts (discounting yesterday's start vs. Detroit), Freddy Garcia is 1-2 with an ERA of 7.25.
-The bullpen, which had been stellar all season, seems to be tiring. Through August 15, the bullpen is 1-4 with a 3.86 ERA, nine holds, and three saves. Unfortunately, two of those saves were to Bobby Jenks' credit and he is due for the disabled list.
-Carlos Quentin has already struck out 11 times in 47 August at-bats. In 347 AB this season, he has 62 walks against 38 strikeouts. Compare that with last year's totals of 31 walks and 52 strikeouts in 351 AB.
-Since the end of April, Andruw Jones is batting .182. So far this month, he has four hits in fourteen trips to the plate.
The Sox tore up the league from the beginning of June to the All-Star Break to get themselves into first place. It's a wonder they're even in this position, considering how they started the season. It's a great credit to Ozzie Guillen and his staff, as well as the players, for making the right moves.
Now, with the strain of a long season starting to set in, the pressure is really on Ozzie. The new guys have shown they can make it, with Edwin Jackson, Sergio Santos, and the first-year rookie Chris Sale all showing flashes of brilliance. But with the offense stalling, the Wiz and Don Cooper will have to make sure every pitcher is healthy and focused.
It's also on Ozzie to prepare the rest of the team for the upcoming road trip. Three games with Minnesota at Target Field are of paramount importance, but a weekend series in Kansas City could be even more tantalizing to watch.
Two of three in Minnesota is less than likely the way the Sox have played the Twins this season, but a sweep in KC could put the Sox back into fight mode. And with the Twins facing the Angels at home, followed by a talented Rangers team in Texas, luck could be on their side.
It's true: the dream that the Twins were finished before the season started disappeared long ago.
The dream of another White Sox division crown, though, is alive and well.
Until next time, keep waving the Pennant.