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White Sox Sat Sep 11 2010

Sox Look Ready to Wait Til Next Year

SoxLogoSmall.jpegAt least the White Sox were considerate enough to slip out of playoff contention before football season really got going. It's time to turn over our lives to the Bears and the Big Ten, and the Sox (and of course the Cubs) have ensured we don't really need to worry much about fall baseball around these parts.

Yes, the Sox roared into September with a seven-game win streak, but all that did was help them tread water a few games behind the unflappable Twins. After three losses in Detroit and Friday's too-little-too-late comeback win against Kansas City, Chicago trails first-place Minnesota by 5 games (and wild-card leader Tampa Bay by 8 games) with 21 games remaining.

The odds of overcoming that deficit at this point are slim at best. (Chicago's playoff chances are 7.9 percent, according to the gurus at CoolStandings.com.)

Five games doesn't seem like a lot, but as we've seen in the past month, the Twins aren't going anywhere. Even if Minnesota played .500 ball the rest of the way (11-10), the Sox would have to go 16-5 to tie it up. Do you think they have another run like that in them?

Yet at the same time, I find it hard to adopt the reflexively negative and sarcastic tone employed by so much of the Chicago media. This is arguably the fourth-best team in the American League -- the Yankees, Rays and Twins clearly are better and only the Rangers and Red Sox are close -- but the fallow, flawed Rangers have the good fortune of playing in the mediocre West Division. It's not as if this season has been a failure.

The Sox have good or very good players at nearly every position; the final step to true championship contention is having some of them -- John Danks? Gavin Floyd? Gordon Beckham? -- break through as stars. Player development is how the humble Twins keep making the playoffs every year. Homegrown stars and all that.

So in that vein, spend September watching the next generation, guys like Danks, Floyd, Beckham, Brent Morel, Dayan Viciedo, Chris Sale, Sergio Santos, Tyler Flowers and Lucas Harrell. The Sox and their fans need to figure out how many keepers they've got in that bunch.

And if you really want a playoff race, stay up late for the West Coast games. The only truly competitive race remaining is the NL West, where the totally unexciting Giants have snuck up on the fading upstarts from San Diego. (You can thank the wild card for the absence of drama in the AL East and NL East, where the Yankees-Rays and Phillies-Braves have little incentive to care who finishes first.)

Here in Chicago, it's time for football.

 
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