Baseball's Best Team Doesn't Play in New York or Tampa: They Play in Minnesota
For Ozzie Guillen, it's deja vu all over again.
The White Sox skipper has had this nightmare before. He wakes up sweating, mumbling "Gardy, no," over and over. He gets up, showers, starts to feel better about himself, then grabs the morning paper and realizes it was no dream. Ron "Gardy" Gardenhire has once again done it to him.
It's almost become an annual event for the White Sox. Spend more money than the Twins in the offseason, get the experts to predict that you'll win the division, then watch the Twins walk away with the prize.
After sweeping the White Sox in Chicago, the Twins now lead the South Siders by nine games in the AL Central, with their magic number dropping to only eight games. The Twins took the season series from Chicago 13-5.
The White Sox went into this mid-September series knowing they had to sweep Minnesota. Even one Twins victory would probably spell an end to the race. There was a sweep alright but not the way Ozzie was hoping for. The Twins won all three games, scoring 26 runs in the rout of Chicago.
The division title will be the Twins second in a row and sixth in their last nine years under baseball's best manager. The manager, who by the way, has never won Manager of the Year despite all that winning and all those titles. I would think he's got the award sewed up for 2010, but, then again, I've thought that before.
Guillen has seen this movie before. Many of those division titles for Gardenhire and the Twins have come at the expense of Ozzie and the White Sox. Two years ago the Twins came from nowhere and chased down the White Sox and caught them on the last day of the year, forcing a one-game playoff.
Although the Twins had a better season record against Chicago, the White Sox won a coin toss and got to host the game in Chicago. The White Sox won it, one of the few times Ozzie has bested Gardy over the years.
Last year, the Twins did the same thing to Detroit, coming from way behind and chasing them down, catching them on the last day. The Twins this time got to host the game, and they won it to seal the division title.
This year, there will be no such drama. The Twins are rolling to this division title. They have done it with an amazing Major League best record of 42-16 in the second half. To put that in perspective, in the last 50 years of Major League Baseball, only two teams have had a better winning percentage in the second half of a season: the 2001 Oakland A's and the 1970 Baltimore Orioles.
With the White Sox all but put away, the Twins now focus their concentration on getting the best record in the American League and home field advantage throughout the American League Playoffs.
Heading into the weekend, the Twins and Yankees are tied with identical records of 88-58, a half game back of Tampa Bay.
The Minnesota Twins are not only a half game out of the best record in the American League, but they are also a half game out from having the best record in all of baseball.
If, after the last nine years or so of Ron Gardenhire baseball this surprises anyone, they haven't done their homework.
With a nine game lead, Gardy can now set his sights on finally achieving some postseason success. The Yankees, in particular, have had the Twins number in the playoffs.
But this Twins team might have two things Gardenhire division title teams from the past did not possess. One, the best record in the league and home field advantage. And two, a brand new stadium that knows nothing of postseason struggles.
Target Field's story has yet to be written.
As for Ozzie Guillen? Well, let's hope he sleeps a little better once the season ends.
Sweet dreams, Ozzie.
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