Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Sox still have the Twins on the mind ... and they see dead people

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shining_twins.jpgKANSAS CITY, Mo. - Despite the fact that the White Sox left the Twin Cities late Thursday night, they still can't escape the specter that is the Minnesota Twins.
During Friday's rain delay, the game of choice on the huge scoreboard of Kauffman Stadium? Twins-Angels. Hours before Saturday's grueling doubleheader with Kansas City, the game on one of the clubhouse TVs? Twins-Angels.
Forget just scoreboard watching. The Sox are scoreboard staring, and Ozzie Guillen doesn't expect that to change over the final six weeks of the season. Or at least until someone tells the manager that the division race between the two is over with.
"I do look at the scoreboard, I do,'' Guillen admitted. "First of all, I can say 'Come on please. Beat them.' [But] we had our chance and didn't. Why do I have to be somebody else to do the stuff we have to do?
"Of course. Every time you look up there I say 'Man, I hope they ...' I was watching the game [Friday] during the rain delay and they were up 7-1. I was like, 'Come on, please.' If you really feel for this you're concerned. Not that you pull against them but you can't control that, you can't. I always say to worry about one thing and that's your team. Because if you worry about another team, that's two problems.''
Because the Sox lost two-of-three to the Twins this week, they do have two problems. That series left the Sox four games back with three games left head-to-head. So they do need some help, as well as taking care of their own business.
One lingering cloud that was cleared up on Saturday was the idea that bullpen coach Juan Nieves somehow riled up the Twins players before the series started by what he said during an appearance on WSCR's "Coaches at the Cork'' last weekend.
The Twins and Sox have played their share of dodgeball this season, with pitchers from each team taking target practice on batters. It's a game the Twins were winning, considering Sox players had been hit with a lot more frequency.
Nieves was asked about that on the show and said, "I've even thought of telling guys, 'Hey [Matt] Thornton, smoke [Joe] Mauer, see if you can start a fight.' We're not afraid of anybody.''
That was made into a big deal before the Sox arrived into town, and was still being discussed up there. Before the doubleheader with the Royals, Nieves told his side of the story.
"A guy calls in and says, 'You guys are afraid of the Minnesota Twins.' I said, 'What are you saying? We're not afraid of anybody.' I told him if we have to retaliate, I'm sure Ozzie and Coop would take care of it. If we have to hit someone to protect our players, I'm sure I will. If Thornton has to hit Mauer ... and then they took it to the next level. That's all. I was just reacting to a caller.''
Nieves wasn't surprised by the reaction, and said that the fan bases of both team will be on high alert for anything that could be deemed controversial until the race is decided.
"Of course fans are sensitive right now,'' Nieves added. "You've got two good teams, so that happens. Like Coop says, and I'm a firm believer in, the only way you beat a team is by pitching better and playing better defense and hitting more than them. I just don't see [we're afraid of them].
"But I was just reacting to a question from a caller, and letting him know we will protect our players.''
As for Guillen, now managing a team that is the hunter after spending 33 days in first place and being the hunted, he admitted to having a new morning routine for the time being.
"I always wake up and say Minnesota is going to win today,'' Guillen said. "Every morning I say Minnesota will win today. Why? Because they do. My mind is ready for that. Minnesota might win today but it's more important that the White Sox win today. That's more important. It doesn't matter if they win or lose. If we don't win, we don't get anywhere. But of course. When you're in the pennant race you watch.
"We have to. In the meanwhile, what is the difference if they lose and we lose? We have to win. We're the chasers. We have to win every game we can and keep it close when we face them again. That's all we have to think about.''

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Does every team have so many issues with the same teams and players beating them over and over again? I'm starting to think the sox coaches and scouts are completely inept and lack problem solving skills.

The White Sox failed to manage the looming Bobby Jenks back issue weeks ago. Resting their hopes literally on Bobby's back rather than on the shoulders of a healthy alternative, they trusted a remarkable season worth pulling out all the stops for on a guy who has proven in the last 4 years that he is always capable of anything but predictability on the mound. The Large One's Act is often characterized by instant implosion due to an inability to throw his curve ball for strikes, and from this eye in the living room, his unwillingness to even TRY and throw the curve ball because of the frame of mind he enters the game with following bullpen warm-ups. The lack of an explosive and/or moving fast ball and inability to control even that absent the otherwise devastating curve ball translates into a guy who is nothing more than a glorified batting practice pitcher serving up 16" softballs at a true 87-90 mph, the Cell's speed gun notwithstanding. He becomes an overpaid waiter serving up grapefruit for his customers with tablecloth service and individual spears of fruit carefully cut along the rind. The bullpen kept the Sox within striking distance during the early season dive, and then carried us along during a 26-5 streak, but, even then, the Bobby Jenks fault line was as obvious as the San Andreas to any casual observer and crossing our fingers until now has worked about as well as a first time chopsticks user trying to gain weight. Perhaps a set of chopsticks is what Bobby needed in the first place--our South Side version of Carlos Zambrano, with the stomach muscles not supporting the back, but rather constantly pulling on the spine, putting increasing pressure on the discs as well as the remainder of the bullpen and the team in general. The model this team should have trusted was 2005--when Dustin Hermanson couldn't hack it any longer because of his back, they shifted gears to a flailing Japanese reliever named Shingo Takatsu. When his arm began to fall off, they went and got an unknown quantity named Bobby Jenks, who now is one of the highest paid closers in the game, as was the aforementioned Hermanson in his prime. But the willingness to shift gears quickly in bullpen terms in 2005 is contrasted in 2010 with a stick to the rut 19th century plow mentality. When the Sox look back on what could have been in this year of mid-season magic turned into a freaky bullpen circus high-wire act, they'll wish they'd gone out and found themselves another closer to catch the falling trapeze artists in the net that could have meant another trip to the World Series. We'll be watching the Twins-Yankees-Rangers-Rays show six agonizing weeks from now. Don't blame Bobby--I would if B.J. was the boss here--and he's not the boss. The man who likes to tout himself as a guy who pulls off big deals under the nose of virtually everyone on the planet is going to have to hold the nose of an entire city when we're looking up from second place at the first place Twins eight games out on October 4.

I had to turn the sound off Saturday night. Hawkeroo is bad enough when is paired with the excellent Steve Stone, who in my humble opinion should be doing play by play and not the color. The game was bad enough, but when the Hawkeroo is paired with the Big Hurt it was simply unlistenable for me. These two are not going to the next Mensa picnic! Bring back Stone ASAP please! Go Sox!!!

It gets sickening that every time you hear ozzie talk about the twins-sox rivalry he's always praising them. Don't get me wrong I love ozzie and the sox, but enough is enough. Instead of praising the twins about how good of a ball club they are, just do one thing for the sox fans and that is "stop praisng them and just go out and beat them." The sox know how to play ball, they know how to hit, run bases,catch and score. When we had Jim Thome he was a great asset to the team as a DH but now he plays for the twins who are now the enemy. Exchange pleasantries and all greetings after the game. This is getting very old. our bullpen seems like they've just given up and forgot how to pitch and are blowing games that the sox should be winning. "STOP PRAISING THE TWINS" and go play ball. GO Sox.

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on August 21, 2010 9:09 PM.

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