White Sox captain Paul Konerko summed up the state of the American League Central perfectly.
''Minnesota, let's face it, if they don't make the playoffs, they've had a heck of a year,'' Konerko said of the Twins. ''They have a lot of young players. But this is an older group. Everything rides on us getting to the playoffs.''
If the Sox beat the Tigers today at U.S. Cellular Field, they face those pesky Twins in a tiebreaker to decide the Central. Should they lose, the Twins, who plan to gather this afternoon at the Metrodome, are bracing for an all-out celebration as champs.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire -- all in good fun, of course -- tried to heap as much pressure as possible on Sox manager Ozzie Guillen.
''You know what, I'm going to come in here and maybe smoke a cigar,'' Gardenhire said. ''And whether we go play those suckers or not, it's up to them. It's all on their shoulders now.
''I don't have to make a pitching move, I don't have to pinch-hit anybody. It's all on Ozzie's butt. So go get 'em, Ozzie. Let's see what happens.''
The Twins will either fly from Minneapolis to Chicago for the tiebreaker to be played Tuesday or head directly to St. Petersburg, Fla., to face the Rays in the first round of the playoffs, beginning Thursday at Tropicana Field.