Ramon Castro and Matt Thornton have been unheralded keys to the White Sox's success.
There's many stories that have been set up this way.
A team fights through adversity and injury to make a run to the top of their league, only to fall prey to a crushing blow. Yet, when it seems all hope has been lost, some short moment of glory inspires the team to victory, earning the adoration of their previously dormant fans and the respect of their formerly prickly adversaries.
Think "Remember the Titans." Think "Bad News Bears." Think "Angels in the Outfield."
Shoot, how about "Little Giants?" That's a good story, watching Rick Moranis' team of misfit football players triumph over bullying brother Ed O'Neill.
Sadly, none of these movies represent the season of the Chicago White Sox. Not yet, at least.
No, this season is more reminiscent of "Coach Carter," without the padlock and chain on the U.S. Cellular Field doors. Moreso the part where Richmond High School loses to St. Francis at the final buzzer.
With the Twins holding a six-game lead in the AL Central going into tomorrow's series, the end of this season might not even hold nearly as much suspense.
"And I think to myself, 'How did I get here?'"
A good question for the Sox, and not necessarily one that is easily answered. The White Sox have a respectable 79-64 record at the moment. If they win 11 of the final 20 games, they will finish with 90 wins for the first time since 2006.
All the ingredients for a successful season...for the Oakland A's, perhaps. The White Sox and their fans, however, hunger for the playoffs. Kenny Williams thirsts for the playoffs every single season and has been quoted numerous times as engineering his team to win the division and go for the crown every single season.
The White Sox don't play for second place.
However, they dug themselves a hole at the start of the season that might be too deep to emerge from:
The Sox are 30-33 versus the AL Central.
This is absolutely unacceptable. The unbalanced schedule means any team that wants to win must stay on top of their divisional foes, and the Sox have not done so. The only team they have a winning slate against is Kansas City and Sunday's win put them at 10-8 versus the Royals.
(Why so needling? Because the Sox have dominated Detroit since '05, but mostly because I really hate the Tigers.)
The Impossible Dream
The Sox went 2-4 last week, and with the Twins recording a 9-1 homestand, Chicago's playoff hopes took a big hit. The Tragic Number stands at 14 with 19 games to be played.
In those 19 games, the Twins play three teams with sub-.500 records.
The White Sox play three teams with losing records as well. However, they have a six-game Western swing staring them in the face, as well as four games at home with Boston in the penultimate series of the season.
It is a foregone conclusion that the Sox must win every game of this next series with Minnesota. As a matter of fact, a 6-0 homestand might be required for a playoff berth.
Puffballs or Pitfalls?
In 1964 and 1967, the White Sox held late season leads only to see them disappear in the final weeks of the season. In '67, the Sox were swept out of the playoff race by young Catfish Hunter and the then-Kansas City Athletics.
It would only be fitting that Minnesota, forever the thorn in Chicago's side, run into some trouble in Kansas City.
The Twins' final road trip of the season leads through Detroit and KC, and with both of those teams well out of the race, the chance to play spoiler against a division rival is almost irresistible.
Also, in one of the apocalyptic events of the century, Bruce Chen is pitching some of the best ball in his career.
Yes. Bruce Chen. Don't refresh the page.
It's true: The Sox will need some help to win. But baseball is a game of inches and luck.
Perhaps this tale will have a happy ending. Ozzie Guillen is a bit more Herman Boone than Ken Carter, after all.
As always, keep waving the Pennant.