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We interrupt this cartoon and humor blog to talk some baseball.
One of the strangest seasons I’ve ever witnessed continues for my White Sox. They’re AL Central champs after Tuesday night’s 1-0 win over Minnesota in Game No. 163 of the 2008 season. Jim Thome (above) accounted for the game’s lone run with a majestic homer, and John Danks turned in the Sox’s best pitching performance of the season when it was needed most. The game was baseball at its best, thanks to the win-or-go-home scenario, a frenzied sell-out crowd at the Cell, the superb pitchers’ duel and some terrific defensive plays (Ken Griffey Jr. still has a little left after all).
How strange was the season for the Sox?
- Two of their top stars — Carlos Quentin and Alexei Ramirez — were long shots to contribute at the outset of the season.
- Quentin, en route to a possible MVP season, put himself out of commission by slamming his hand on his bat and fracturing his right wrist on Sept. 1.
- The most reliable starting pitchers turned out to be the two youngsters in the rotation — Danks and Gavin Floyd.
- The expected trade of Joe Crede never happened. Instead, he got hurt, and Juan Uribe (who also was almost traded/almost released) emerged as a star third baseman.
- The Sox led the majors in home runs (with 235) and in aging S-L-O-W guys (Thome, Griffey, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye). The Sox didn’t win many games in which they didn’t hit at least one homer.
- The bullpen, so awful in 2007, was one of the best in baseball for more than half the season, and then went up in flames.
- Last week’s sweep at the hands of the Twins in Minnesota, followed by two straight losses to Cleveland, by all rights should have extinguised the Sox’s playoff hopes. But the Sox became the first team in history to beat three different teams in three consecutive days (Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota), and those victories in do-or-die games garnered a playoff spot.
- And, of course, prior to the season most prognosticators pegged the Sox for third or fourth in the AL Central. Sports Illustrated predicted Detroit would beat the Cubs in the World Series. Let’s see … Detroit finished … LAST in the AL Central.
So now it’s White Sox and Cubs in the postseason in the same year for the first time since 1906. Yep, 1906. White Sox beat the Cubs four games to two in that World Series, in case you didn’t Tivo it.
Do I expect the Sox to reach the World Series. Honestly, no. But stranger things have happened. The 2008 regular season, for instance.