Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Most Interesting Pennant Race

Sure the Tampa Bay/Boston series is exciting with First Place on the line, but both teams are clearly going to play in October… so they are fighting for position, not their lives.

The cluster in the National League is intense with the Mets and Brewers imploding, the Phillies surging and the Astros still hanging around despite getting only 1 hit in their last 2 games. But with the Wild Card, you know 2 of those teams are making it and the Mets and Brewers collapse is kind of disturbing to watch…

Here’s what’s interesting about this race for me.

1. Who saw this coming?

I think the most interesting race still going on is between the White Sox and the Twins. Let’s face it, going into this season the consensus picks for the American League Central were the Indians and the Tigers. A lot of people felt they were legit World Series contenders.

Well a sub .500 record in mid September and being a non factor all year is not what any of us predicted.

Nor could we have seen a White Sox team that was old and falling apart in 2007 to rebound nor a Twins team that shed Johan Santana and Torii Hunter to contend.

2. Who is the underdog?

Both teams are overachieving and both are a great story. And both are under manned due to injuries (Contreras and Quentin) or inexperience (the average age of the Twins is 13 years old.)

3. The Different Styles

The White Sox are a classic beer league softball team, swinging for the fences from their heels and trying to pound the opponent into submission. Even their closer Bobby Jenks has Artie Lange’s physique.

The Twins on the other hand are free of big stars (save for Justin Morneau who just might win his second MVP) and play fundamentally strong baseball. They catch the ball, the pitchers throw strikes, the hitters don’t swing at balls out of the zone…

It’s the Original Ray’s Pizza Softball Team versus Tom Emanski

4. The Managers

Ozzie Guillen is insane. He’s unstable. He’s the character in my favorite baseball comic strip. And he’s the right man for the job.

Ron Gardenhire is the steadier hand but gets the job done as he tries to get the Twins in the post season for the 5th time since they were
threatened with contraction 7 years ago.

5. The Head to Head Match Up

The Twins play the Indians and then 4 with the Rays… then they come back to the Metrodome for 3 games with the White Sox.

The White Sox play 4 more with the Yankees and travel to KC before heading to Minnesota.

Anyone with a baseball soul will want to see the White Sox and Twins either tied or with only 1 game between them for Tuesday September 23rd through Thursday September 25th.

So for the next few days I will alternate rooting interests to make sure that series is indeed a showdown for one single playoff spot.

And here’s hoping Ozzie does something really crazy.

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