Twins vs. Tigers: Who Do Sox Fans Cheer For?

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By Soxman

Two teams, one game, and the winner moves on to the postseason while the loser goes home for the winter.  Sox fans know this scenario oh too well as we needed the famous “blackout play-in game” in 2009 to earn our central division crown.  For Twins fans, it is as Yogi Berra says, “dejvu all over again!” So as the Twin vs. Tigers game on Tuesday approaches, several perplexing questions are likely peculating through White Sox fans minds:twins_logo

Who do I cheer for?  Is it wrong be interested in this game at all?  To pick a side?  Can I cheer for my enemy and still be called a Sox fan? As Hawk Harrelson would say:  “YEEEEAAASSS.” Before you read my pick, understand a couple of  things.

First, while I’m a diehard Sox fan, I’m also a fanatic of the game of baseball…period.  A tiebreaker represents all that is exciting in this game, even if a team only needs 87 wins to reach the postseason. Second, there is no right or wrong answer in this equation.  That’s the beauty of the game. Let’s examine some points of debate:

The “ex” Sox factor
The Tigers have Magglio Ordonez and former coaches Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont. “O wee OOOO…MAGGGLIO,” left Chicago via the Scott Boras express, and the perception among Sox fans was he used the Sox to get a better offer from the Tigers.  It was the first shot heard ’round the Cell, that the Sox would refuse to play ball with Boras. The Twins have Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Orlando Cabrera and World Series Hero Joe Crede. Crede was a “Don’t Stop Believin” voice of the 2005 World Champion Sox.
Advantage:  Twins.


The Underdog Factor

Often synonymous with payroll, this year there is even more at play.  The Twins will be without their best power hitter Justin Morneau, and defensive stalwart Joe Crede, who both are out with back issues. The Tigers are without Dontrelle Willis and Joel Zumaya. Team Payroll?  Detroit has the 5th highest in baseball at just over $115 million. The Twins rank 24th at about $65.3 million. Advantage:  Twins

The Economy
With the flaying automobile industry and a depressed economy, Detroit has been referred to as a city “that needs the play-offs” as an emotional shot in the arm. Opponents argue, the Detroit Red Wings domination should be plenty.  People then counter argue with the Detroit Lions. Seriously though, according to a 2007 census study, Michigan has a 12% poverty rate, while Minnesota has an 8.1% poverty rate. Advantage:  Tigers

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Always the Bridesmaid Factor

While the Tigers won the AL Pennant in 2006, they did it as the AL wildcard team and have never won an A.L. Central Title since the 1998 realignment. The Tigers last won the World Series in 1984, their 4th in team history. The Twins have won the AL Central 4 times since 1998. They last won the World Series in 1991, their third in team history. Advantage: Twins by numbers, Tigers by Underdog Factor.

The Sox Hate Factor
This is pure opinion here.  I hate the Metrodome as a Sox fan because of our record there.  I hate the Metrodome as a baseball fan, as it’s a horrible place to watch a game.  I respect the Metrodome as an outsider because of the electric advantage it gives the Twins.
Detroit Tiger fans invade U.S. Cellular Field at a far greater rate and with a higher rate of irritability than Twins fans do.
Advantage: Tie

For me, its always about the underdog, or the little guy.  I’ve got to go with the Minnesota Twins.  With a total team salary that is 45% less than their opponent, and two of their better players injured, it’s amazing they made it this far.  Say it is so Joe…Crede that is. So for now….big gulp….larger swallow…Go Twins!  At least it’s not the Cubs.

And as Sox fans we can always say that we helped the Twins get there by taking 4 of 6 from the Tigers to end the season. To Twins Fan and Sportsbank Writer Peter Christian, remember who said your team would be here in August?  You can remember me in the Call Outs. Now that all the information has been presented to you, who are you cheering for Sox fans?

Tigers chipping away at hope one terrible loss at a time.

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By H. Jose Bosch

Words can’t describe how unbelievably perturbed I am with the Tigers’ latest “effort” during the first two games of a pivotal series against the Twins.

Where is the pride? Where is the heart? Where is the pitching?

No one would confuse the Tigers pitchers with other fine staffs in St Louis, New York or San Francisco. But at least the pitchers kept Detroit in the game on most nights. I’ve known all year the offense had lost a lot of its punch, so I clung to the hope that the pitchers could hold together — even if it had to be with duck tape and gum — long enough to get into the playoffs.

It doesn’t matter to me that the potential opponent is the Yankees. Anything is possible in the postseason. But nothing is possible when you can’t even freaking get into the postseason.

Saturday’s game really put me over the edge. Justin Verlander keeps his team in the game all afternoon and then loses his focus for one inning and it all unravels. Maybe Jim Leyland didn’t have confidence in his bull pen and Verlander got tired. Maybe Verlander really did feel good and the Twins are just that superior.

I don’t care. The Tigers had their best pitcher on the mound, and a slim three-game lead against their opponent, and they still couldn’t win. Hey, it’s not like the pennant is on the line or anything.

Now Detroit leads the division by just two games and I wouldn’t be surprised if the lead falls to one game when the sun sets on the weekend.

Am I giving up? Of course not. But even with a two-game lead it feels like the Tigers are fighting a losing battle like General Custar. My dreams are haunted by a whole bunch of Minnesota Twins raining down on my team with their fundamentally sound baseball, clutch hitting and late-season comeback experience.

I hate you Minnesota. I hope I never have to hear your name again once the postseason begins.

For now I’m going to get some rest, take a breather and refill my optimism cup for Sunday’s game. The Tigers have a division to win. … I hope.

This post can also be viewed at the blog Michigan and Trumbull.

Are the Minnesota Twins the team to beat in the AL Central?

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By Joe Storms

The highly anticipated three game weekend series between the Twins and Tigers will hopefully give baseball fans the drama and excitement of a September divisional battle that otherwise seems to be missing this season.  The Twins trail the Tigers by 4 games with 16 games remaining for both teams.  But does Minnesota have a realistic chance at stealing their first division crown since 2006?

The Twins and Tigers play each other 7 times in the final 16 games, but Detroit also has the added challenge of facing the Chicago White Sox 6 more times before the division is decided.  The challenges for Detroit don’t end with just the schedule either.  The pitching staff suddenly seems full of holes as recently acquired starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn is out of the rotation for the time being with a knee injury.  His replacement for Sunday’s game, Nate Robertson, has battled his own injury problems this season and since the start of 2008, is 1-2 with an ERA of 6.57 against the Twins. Their starter for Saturday is ace Justin Verlander, but he too has struggled against Minnesota.  Since 2007, the right-hander has suffered a 1-4 record with a 5.40 ERA at the hands of the division rival.  Also, All-star Edwin Jackson seems to be slowing down after a strong season as he is only 2-2 with a 6.03 ERA in his last five starts, which also could raise a legitimate concern about 20 year old rookie sensation and Friday night’s starter Rick Porcello.  Already having pitched 148 innings this year, does he have the conditioning and arm strength to avoid the end-of-the-season slump that plagues so many young pitchers when they first enter the majors?

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Meanwhile, the Twins have also faced injury problems of their own but seem to be rallying around it, unlike the Tigers who have lost 7 of their last 10.  They have scrapped together a four game win streak since learning their former MVP, Justin Morneau, is done for the season due to a stress fracture in his back.  A struggling Morneau of late may have even been holding back the Twins.  Since August 15th, when Morneau’s batting average finally dipped below .300 for the first time since April 28th, Morneau batted .100 (7 for 70) and the Twins have posted a respectable 18-13 record.  A closer look, however, shows that they are 9-1 in games without Morneau and only 9-12 when he played.  A big reason is due to timely hitting and guys stepping up their game to compensate for his absence.  The Twins are hitting .274 with runners in scoring position this season but in those games without Morneau the number jumps up to .352.  The main reason for the jump is due to Michael Cuddyer and MVP candidate Joe Mauer as both seem to have stepped up their play with the first baseman out.  In those 10 games, Cuddyer is batting .419 with 13 RBIs, 6 doubles and 5 homeruns and Mauer is hitting .500 with 9 RBIs and 3 homeruns.

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Minnesota and Detroit enter the weekend series and the last few weeks on the schedule fighting for their playoff lives while battling key injuries with questions and concerns sprinkled through their lineup.  The Tigers lately have played like they are just holding on and hoping time runs out on the Twins.  Even though Detroit has a 4 game lead in the division, the eventual winner will be the team that overcomes the obstacles, rallies around each other and gets hot at the right time.  It has all of the makings for an exciting finish…