AL Central spark and sputters...
It's been a long time coming and for those that new me- I used to do one of these every week, and I apologize for the distractions keeping me from taking the time to put these out. Having the time to read some of stuff put out by other users on the group sites I belong to has really gotten me going to stop just doing my personal blogs but some of these ones as well. Hopefully I can get the hang of it again...
The Central was destined to be a 2 horse race at the beginning of the season according to pundits, fans, and competitive teams and managers... Problem is- no one saw it as a race between the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins.
The season started with Detroit not just sputtering but with the bloody transmission falling out. Didn't matter how much Leyland tried to rev the engine of the team- the damn thing just wouldn't move. The offense was anemic, The trades for Renteria, Cabrera, and Willis looked like the some of the worst moves in the history of the sport, well, perhaps still second to Zito going to San Francisco.
Cleveland didn't get off to as bad of a start but shortly into May when they played interleague opponent the Cincinnati Reds things really started to fall apart for what has now been determined to be a very disappointing season to Tribe Fans. One win short of going to the World Series last year seems to be the summary of most of their depth for players. They were always one spot short and one injury too many. Detroit and Cleveland were still peas in a pod for the first half. Just not the dominators everyone determined them to be before the beginning of the season. They were more like Motor City Kitties and Cleveland Injured-ians.
As a huge and life long fan of the Tigers, I found myself even drinking, swapping stories, and generally drowning sorrows with Tribe fans... Something that would have felt sacrilegious last season.
Even the Royals enjoyed an excellent start to the season with the White Sox and Twins in tow. Kansas City seems to have fallen back down to earth as the season has worn on. The Indians seem to be running on a bit of a win streak for a last place tie with the Royals now. Somehow the Tigers have clawed their way into 3rd, 5.5 games back of first.
However, here we are- over half way through the season and the White Sox and the Twins are leading the league! Is the lead tenuous? Perhaps. As anyone can point out, neither team has run away with anything yet. Each of those teams have had many more than their fair share of chances.
The problems for either team are few and far between, they come out and play a great game every day, even when they lose. But so far, the Twins seem to have held down their AL Central rivals better than anyone else. I put most of that on their pitching. Livian is no great front line starter for a lot of teams, but in the mix of youth that rounds the Twins rotation he is invaluable. Yes, Liriano could come in and replace him any time but that man is more of a leader in that club than anyone would have guessed.
The White Sox on the other hand have a couple of young presences but are a more veteran rotation. This is a rotation similar to the one that won them a world series a few years ago, but also almost an exact reflection of the team that blew it the previous two. If I were picking a pony at the moment, obviously the White Sox are a half game ahead of the Twins, unless it's a tie, it cannot get closer than that.
Detroit, Cleveland, and perennial cellar dweller Kansas City sputtered the first half. And in some ways by not walking away with the division so have the White Sox and Twins. But with Detroit finding it's footing, Cleveland getting it's swing, and the White Sox and Twins having a very long and hard fraught road schedule ahead in the rest of this month and August, can they sustain their leads or even pull further away?
The AL Central has the makings to become a nasty little race of teams that have fallen short of and playing above expectations. But the truth of the winning team will have to be dominance of their own rivals within the Central itself now. As close as the standings are, these teams are now in the mindset of not just taking one for themselves, but one from their opponent more importantly...