White Sox In Denial: 10 Reasons They Will Lose the AL Central Title
After an 11-0 pounding of the Minnesota Twins last night, White Sox Nation is once again hopeful for a division title.
But unfortunately their positive attitude is all for naught.
Ozzie's crew, already backed up against a wall, will face several challenges over the next month and some change.
Sure, Alexei Ramirez is on fire. Sure, Paul Konerko is an unstoppable force this year. And, sure, Chicago's offense on the whole has been pretty solid.
Yet, when it's all laid out on the table, there are still 10 reasons why the White Sox will not get a crack at another World Series title this year.
We take a look at these preeminent reasons, some humorous and some real major concerns, and realize that it might be wise for White Sox fans to put away their rally caps and look forward to another sub-par Bears season.
1. The Obvious
First: the obvious. The date reads Aug. 20, and the White Sox sit four games behind the Minnesota Twins.
Prior to last night's loss, the Twins were on a six-game winning streak, taking care of inferior teams like the Indians and Athletics.
The Twins are hot, and have a recent history of getting even hotter in the last month of baseball, making a four-game deficit for the White Sox a high peak to overcome as September approaches.
2. The Schedule
Next week, the White Sox start off their grueling 10 games against AL East powerhouses when they face the best team in baseball, the Yankees, in a three-game series.
In September, the Sox will play the Boston Red Sox seven times.
As the AL East race is a tight one, both the Yankees and Red Sox will be playing with something extra in the tank.
On the other hand, the Twins' only real challenge ahead are the Texas Rangers for seven games.
George W.'s team has been dominant, but they appear to be playoff locks and will not likely play with the same sense of urgency as the AL East teams.
The White Sox's extra three games against contenders, combined with a tighter race in the East, will tip the scale even more in favor of the Twins.
3. Mark Kotsay
Say what you want about Kotsay's big hits as of late, Sox fans, but the fact that the team's DH is Mark Kotsay speaks for itself.
While they have survived without a true DH throughout the season, a certain part of me dies every time I see him in the five hole.
Major Sox disadvantage here.
4. The Bullpen
J.J. Putz left last night's game with patella inflammation, adding extra bruises to an already banged-up bullpen.
While it's doubtful that he will be missed much after blowing a string of saves, his day-to-day absence will definitely be felt.
And speaking of blown saves, Bobby Jenks is back in the 'pen. Sox fans hope that he can keep that blown save percentage below 50 percent for the remainder of the season.
One strong point in the bullpen has been Matt Thornton. However, as evidenced by Jim Thome's Ruthian shot off the fireballer, Thornton can become overworked, and relying solely on him will not fare well for the White Sox.
5. Three-Game Series With the Twins
Usually, having more head-to-head games against the team that you are trailing against is favorable, but not for the White Sox.
The ChiSox are 5-10 against the Twins this year, proving that the Metrodome was not the source of their allergy to the Minnesota squad.
With three games against the Twins remaining, this could only be labeled as yet another disadvantage for the Sox.
Every time they hit the field with Joe Mauer's team, in that very minute, they begin playing bush league baseball. There is clearly some sort of mental block going on for the Sox players.
The Metrodome is gone, yet they still continually play poor baseball against the Twins.
6. Bad Play Against Bad Teams
After dropping three out of four to one of the most pathetic teams to step on a major league baseball diamond, the White Sox leave fans unsure of how they will perform against teams not called the Yankees or the Red Sox.
Tonight is the start of a three-game set for the Sox with the second-rate Kansas City Royals, a team that they always seem to struggle with. They will play the Royals again in September.
Tune in for their series against Baltimore next week: should they handily destroy the Orioles in that series as they should, this point will be moot; however, as it stands, chalk this one up as another Sox disadvantage.
7. Hawk Harrelson
Judging on Hawk Harrelson's mute response to Jim Thome's crushing blow to the Sox, the team has to feel as though Hawk is going to have a heart attack any game now.
A long-time White Sox broadcaster and homer, Harrelson's nerves are way too over-reactive to endure any additional stress beyond 162 games this year.
One more Jenks or Putz blown save and poor Hawk will most certainly die of heart failure.
So why take the risk and play in the postseason?
8. Inconsistent Pitching
Pitching wins championships, and lately the Sox pitching staff has been less than phenomenal.
Other than Buehrle, White Sox starters have had fits in their last few starts.
Edwin Jackson also stands as an exception to this, but if he will be anything like the Jackson he was last month with the Diamondbacks, he will quickly join the mix of underachievers.
Freddy Garcia, who has not gone a full season since 2006, is beginning to show signs of fatigue after he reached the 100-innings-pitched mark.
John Danks has often been formidable, but is due for a bad outing every third start or so, with his latest in Minnesota, where he surrendered four runs in the first inning.
Likewise, Gavin Floyd has struggled mightily in his last two starts, which so happened to be against the Twins. He surrendered 13 runs in just 12 innings pitched.
9. Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer is the type of player who can single-handedly carry his team into the playoffs.
One could make a case for Konerko being in this category, but when it comes to being a true difference-maker, Konerko is a far cry from the former AL MVP Mauer.
10. The September Slide
Over the past five years, Ozzie Guillen's White Sox have had several instances of terrible Septembers.
En route to their 2005 World Series Championship, the Sox nearly surrendered a 15-game lead to the Cleveland Indians.
Following that same beat, in 2006, they managed to actually blow everything due to a September crash. They lost 15 of 24 games at the beginning of the month, surrendering the division in the process.
Also, the team's division championship in 2008 did not come easily. Their sub-par play at the end of September forced a tiebreaker game with the Twins.
Should that coin that granted them home-field advantage in that game had flipped differently that year, they may have lost the division title.
So, Sox fans, after careful consideration, it's evident that winning a division title this year is about as likely as the Bulls making it past the Heat to go to the NBA Finals.