Posts Tagged ‘pennant race’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank  As the back and forth of the White Sox AL Central race concludes this weekend, I’ve had more mood swings than Naomi Campbell and Lindsay Lohan combined. The “Hunt for Black October” roller coaster ride gives me so much tension and anxiety, that an outside observer might assume I was an AIG shareholder. On Thursday night, I left my house happy and confident with the Sox up 6-1 in the 5th inning. I attended the Stephanie Izard (Chicago Top Chef winner) Diva Series event at Madame Tartine downtown. It was a fun time partying with fellow Street Teamers Desiree Prieto and D.C. Crenshaw as well as hostess Sarah Vargo. But the party became a lot less fun (for myself anyway) when I found the television at the end of the bar and camped out to watch the Sox lose the biggest game of the season in extra innings at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. For some reason, following the game online with my brand new Smartphone made blown leads seem more calming. My text messaging back and forth with the Soxman fails to alleviate my anxiety. Getting into very mean sounding, but ultimately hilarious text message wars with the lead Twins writer of my site, Peter Christian is an enjoyable pastime, but it still doesn’t soothe my nerves.

On Friday night, I watched the Sox lose a home contest to the Cleveland Indians (and fail to recapture first place from the Twins who got blown out at home by the Kansas City Royals that same night) from the Press Box at U.S. Cellular Field. Coincidentally, there was a Tampa Bay Rays media guide laying near my seat in the press box. Given that Tampa is the team the Sox would most likely play in the postseason, I think this is more than serendipity. I think it’s a sign. Or at least I hope. In my next segment, I’ll tell you what manager Ozzie Guillen and the players themselves have to say about handling their pennant race stress.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank

I know things seem bleak right now for the White Sox. Injuries -MVP front-runner Carlos Quentin, All-Star Joe Crede and #4 starter Jose Contreras are all lost for the year- and losing three of the last four at home have whittled the division lead down to one skinny game and a half. However, there is still plenty of reason for optimism. The Southside’s #1 superfan, the Soxman, gave an inspirational speech on my site this morning addressing Sox Nation. I’m going to complement his emotional plea by expanding on some logistical points that he brought up.

-Only one series against a contending team remains. That would be the HUGE series in Minnesota the 23rd-25th. Should the Sox maintain their current lead on the Twinkies before that series, the pressure will be on Minnesota, not Chicago. With at least that margin, the Sox would only need to win one game of three to retain first place. The Twins will have to sweep the series or remain in second place.

-The Twins have issues of their own. Minnesota’s bullpen has been utterly useless down the stretch and blew another one today. Plus the Metrodome residents have just as much trouble winning on the road and about the same number of road games as the Sox. They also have 7 games remaining versus the AL East. Their record versus the division is an awful 9-19.

-Tevye sang in “Fiddler on the Roof” about how everything comes down to “Tradition! TRADITION!” Winning the Central depends on “execution. EXECUTION!” In 2005, the Sox used “Ozzie Ball,” a.k.a. “Grinder Ball” to win by taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes. This style is a derivative of the popular “small ball” and is built around the principles stressed by the famous “Oriole Way,” which made the Orioles a dynasty in the 60s and 70s. Yes, Baltimore was once actually a powerhouse- I’m not making that up.

-The Sox have been plagued by a lack of ability to execute and manufacture runs, best illustrated in the 15 inning win over the Angels on Saturday night. They blew golden opportunities to win the game in the 9th, 10th, 12th and 14th innings. However, in the 6th inning last night we saw September call-up Jerry Owens execute a perfect suicide squeeze as less-than-fleet-of-foot catcher A.J. Pierzynski sprinted down the third base line. That sixth and final run was the crucial tipping point for a one run victory. If they keep doing little things like that…we’ll see them in October.

-Every time the White Sox have lost first place this season, they regained it within a couple days or so. There have been numerous ties and lead changes in the AL Central, but the 2008 Sox have constantly shown: when they are down, it’s never for long.

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