We’ll Get ‘em Next Year (Maybe Not)

Originally posted on “Is It Sports?” by Ryan. By reading the opening comment that I wrote, you can pretty much see why this site exists now and the old Is It Sports site does not. Fear not, the World Series post was written, just never posted on the old site. I’ll post it on the Times, as a special “lost” post!

Quick Note from Steve: Ryan wrote this way back in November (which explains the Konerko on the Angels comment), but for some reason, I never posted it….part of it was because I’ve been pretty busy, another because I wanted to have this post with my World Series post back to back (which still hasn’t been written). But now since the shear shock of it has sunk in and I’m about to watch both my Sox DVDs and have my Bang for the Buck stats ready to go, why not have 3 consecutive baseball posts during the 2 weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl? This site really isn’t that hard to update….I’m just lazy but my goal for this site for 2006 is to keep this up to date more often, and the Quote of the Week and blog will help.

Baseball season is over, the White Sox are the world Champions. I feel that it is my duty to provide a non-Sox fan recap of the season. In this post, I’ll look at how Steve, Kevin and I predicted the outcome of the year. Then I’ll go ahead and give the Sox some credit, and I’ll end by digging a little deeper into the Twins season. Sound like a deal? All right, let’s roll.

So, something amazing happened with the season. All three of us, using the scoring system laid out in the Junk #4, tied. Kevin made up a lot of ground by doing well in the American League East, merely a flip flop of the Orioles and Blue Jays keeping him from a perfect prediction. Steve did the best in the playoffs, having been the only person to correctly pick someone in either of the League Championship Series (St. Louis). I was the most consistent across the board. Kevin and Steve correctly picked 5 of the 6 division winners correctly, while I picked four division winners, and the wild card in the American League.

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Playoffs

Total

Steve

4

4

4

4

8

8

-7

25

Ryan

4

6

4

4

4

8

-5

25

Kevin

2

6

4

8

6

4

-5

25

Something those statistics don’t show is exactly what happened. For example, my pick of Cleveland making the leap this year saved me in the AL Central, where I had foolishly picked the Twins in first and the White Sox in fourth. Kevin, naturally, and as he should have, picked the NL West together, but if we look at his picks qualitatively, we see that his picks are just as laughable now as they were then. Neither Arizona or Seattle sniffed the playoffs. As for me, the eventual champion, the Sox, were fourth, as I said, in my picks. All that being said, I would have to allege that Steve had the best overall picks this season.

And speaking of those Sox, I do have to give them credit. Aside from Steve’s love for the White Sox and Kevin’s not seeing anything else in the Central, at the beginning of the season, what could anyone have seen that would have led them to believe the Sox would be this good? Really, I don’t think Steve could have foreseen a season like this in his wildest dreams. My biggest issue was the same that many had. Their rotation featured El Duque, Jose Contreras and Jon Garland, three guys who, before this season, wouldn’t have instilled fear in a T-Ball team. And Ozzie Guillen who had never managed before, was a wild card. Who knew a goofball like him could be such a brilliant leader? Surely not I.

As I wrote about back in March, the Sox were following the Twins plan for manufacturing runs. They sacrificed two big bats, in Ordonez and Carlos Lee, and added to speedsters at the beginning of the lineup in Scott Podsednik and Tadahiro Iguchi, as well as a veteran, reliable bat in Jermaine Dye. In the end, they did, in fact follow the Twins successful speed and defense model, except they were faster and better at defense. Not only that, the White Sox had something the Twins haven’t had since the mid-80’s: big bats. Without Lee and Ordonez, they still had Paul Konerko and Carl Ever
ett, not to mention Joe Crede who finally started to break out this year. No word yet on Aaron Rowand. Pulling all this together was my newfound nemesis, A.J. Pierzynski. And while I used to have a someone tense rivalry feeling with the Sox, I can now say, without a doubt, I hate the Chicago White Sox with every fiber of my being.

What I don’t understand though, is why the Indians are already the trendy pick to win the Central next year. Sure, Konerko will be batting third ahead of Vlad Guerrero next year, but Kenny Williams won’t be afraid to replace him with another good hitting first baseman. They will still have the rotation. They will still have every other piece. And they will have experience. Maybe Cleveland will get the Wild Card, but I still think the White Sox are a solid pick for the division pennant next year. No matter, though. I hate the Indians too.

Speaking of hating something, let me talk a little bit about the Twins, particularly their owner. Carl Pohlad, one of the 250 wealthiest people on the entire planet, can’t afford to pay someone who can hit more than 25 homeruns? Bull! Now, the Twins have had a rough season and can stand to improve at pretty much every position. Jacque Jones and Matt LeCroy are free agents, and I fully expect neither to resign with the Twins. They will be “replaced” by people from the farm system, when the truth is, they need to be truly replaced by a reliable veteran bat, something we didn’t have last year. If there was a Jermaine Dye clone, the Twins would be the team that would need to sign him.

Instead, however the Twins are looking to deal Torii Hunter, the team’s only marketable star, for spare parts, probably from the Yankees. The team has plenty of spare cash, and Carl Pohlad, on the cusp of death anyways, could make sure his reputation doesn’t stay stuck on “miser” by signing someone who can hit this offseason, but that won’t happen, because Pohlad doesn’t care. What WILL happen is the Twins will begin a downward spiral. The biggest signing they will make is for someone like B.J. Surhoff or Craig Paquette, if either are still in the League. Hunter will be traded to the Yankees for two swizzle sticks, a Parcheesi piece and Joe Girardi. Brad Radke will be traded to a contender at the break, and the Twins will be in fourth next year.

I need a new favorite baseball team, because this one makes me cry. – Ryan