Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, if you are a White Sox fan, you have to at least appreciate the timing of the Republican National Convention, which will be held in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN from Sept. 1-4.
As it stands, the Republicans' descent on Minnesota will help the White Sox—not by pushing trickle-down economics, but by sending the Minnesota Twins on a grueling 14-game road trip from August 21 through September 4.
The road trip begins with four games in Anaheim against the Angels, arguably the best team in baseball. The Twins then travel north to Seattle, which, despite their AL-worst record, took two of three from Minnesota at Safeco Field earlier in August.
After that, it's four in Oakland for Minnesota—and while the A's have mightily struggled since the All-Star break, they're no pushover at home. After their series at McAfee Coliseum ends, the Twins will have to fly all the way to Toronto for a three-game set against the Blue Jays to conclude the road trip.
10-game road trips are usually considered long, and most good teams (barring the Angels, who are a ridiculous 39-24 on the road) would be happy with a 6-4 trip. 14 games, though? The Twins might be lucky to come out it at 7-7, considering that the Twins are just 26-31 away from home this year.
This Twins' road trip, theoretically, should be a great chance for the White Sox to gain some ground on Minnesota in the AL Central, but their schedule certainly is not a cakewalk.
After finishing off two home games with Seattle, Tampa Bay comes to town over the weekend for a three-game series. Despite their 30-31 road record coming into Tuesday night, the Rays will be a good test for the White Sox at home before the Sox head out on a 10-game road trip of their own.
That road trip actually begins with the completion of a home game against the Orioles, as the White Sox and Orioles were tied 3-3 when rain forced their Apr. 28 game to be suspended in the 11th inning.
After that game is completed, the White Sox will play three true road games against Baltimore before heading to Boston for what should be a difficult—but important—three-game series with the Red Sox.
If the White Sox have to fall back on the crutch of the AL Wild Card, Boston will likely be the team they have to beat out for that spot, so the last thing the White Sox can afford to have happen is to lose two or three games to a team they'll be in direct competition with for a playoff spot.
The Sox will finish up their road trip with three games in Cleveland against an Indians team that, despite all their struggles this year, is not an easy team to beat at Progressive Field, where they are 33-29 heading into Tuesday.
Granted, the White Sox have actually played worse than the Twins on the road this year, at 28-34 so far in 2008. Their road trip coincides directly with the Twins' road trip. So why should the Sox be able to put some ground between themselves and the Twins during this stretch?
The advantage for the White Sox, simply put, is that their road trip isn't to the West Coast. We've all seen what long, West Coast road trips can do to a team in any sport (the Bulls, post-Jordan), and the results are generally not good. To play nine games out west, and then have to come back across the continent for three more would tax the best of teams, especially those who aren't spectacular on the road.
What the Twins do with these 14 road games could determine what happens in the American League Central. If they can hold their own and win seven or eight games, it could bond the team into a mentality of "we can get through anything" and push them past another tough 10-game road trip to Baltimore, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay in mid-September and on to winning the division.
If the Twins fall flat on their faces and only win four or five games, and the White Sox take care of business on the road though, it could propel the South Siders to the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
I'm sure Sen. Barack Obama has much bigger things on his mind, but as a White Sox fan, maybe he'd even show just a touch of gratitude towards the Republicans for holding their convention in Minneapolis in early September.
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