Trash Talking From Second Place (Again)

With their 10-2 victory in the opening game of the now-meaningless three-game series against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night, the Minnesota Twins increased their American League Central lead to 11.5 games and cut their “Magic Number” to eight.

As has been the case for the past three years, several Chicago players had plenty to say after losing to the Twins. Here’s a piece of the game story in the Daily Southtown:

Yes, the American League Central Division title has all but been conceded to Minnesota for a third consecutive season, as a 10-2 Twins victory at the Metrodome just about put the final nail in the Sox coffin.

However, several Sox players said it hurts less knowing that while the Twins are going to the postseason for a third straight season, they also expect their rivals to have a short stay once the playoffs begin.

“I think they keep forgetting that we lost our two best players this year,” one Sox player said. “We have Magglio (Ordonez) and Frank (Thomas), we’re looking at a different story here.

“That’s fine, let them do their talking and clapping and antics on the basepaths. Minnesota has two World Series banners, but not one came from this group of players. They forget that. I’ll be glad to sit back and watch them go one and done (in the playoffs). Our season ends Oct. 3 or whatever it is. So they’ll get an extra week in before they’re done.”

Yeah, what chumps the Twins are, having to play extra games in October.

I realize I’m going to get hate mail from White Sox fans (what else is new), but that is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard a baseball player say and it’s particularly amusing that the player wouldn’t even put his name behind the words.

First of all, while he’s right that neither of the Twins’ two World Series titles came with this group of players, the fact is that the White Sox last won a World Series in 1917. Yes, 1917. Unless they signed Jesse Orosco while I wasn’t looking, I’m pretty sure none of the current White Sox were around back then.

As for them missing Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez, that has certainly hurt Chicago tremendously this season, but this anonymous loudmouth leaves out the part about the Twins being without Joe Mauer for nearly the entire year and Shannon Stewart for half the season. Plus, this isn’t some fluke — in about a week, the Twins will have won their third straight AL Central championship.

But my favorite part of the above quote is the laughable idea that the White Sox don’t feel quite so bad about not making the playoffs, because the team that beat them is not a good one. Yeah, that makes sense. Oh, and one other thing: The Twins won more playoff games last season (one) than the White Sox have won in the last decade (zero).

Of course, as usual, the White Sox had plenty more to say:

Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had no problem going on the record with his feelings, especially with the antics displayed by Torii Hunter.

According to Buehrle, Hunter kept looking into the dugout between innings, as well as yelling, “These (deleted) are done” at the Sox after an RBI double in the sixth.

While Buehrle wasn’t going to argue that point, he did take exception to Hunter’s actions.

“What dirt do they think they’re still kicking on us?” Buehrle said. “Our chances coming into this series were slim and none. They’re going to the playoffs and we’re not. But what he did was a bit excessive. Staring into our dugout between innings was uncalled for.”

Buehrle also said that while Twins pitchers Johan Santana and Brad Radke have the stuff to beat anyone, he didn’t feel the rest of the AL playoff teams are going to be shaking in their boots.

“You have Santana and Radke, and you’ve got a chance,” Buehrle said. “But then you look at the rest of their roster and you really can’t see them getting past the first round. Anything can happen, but I don’t see it.”

I respect the fact that Mark Buehrle was at least willing to stand behind his own words. However, this entire thing reminds me of elementary school, when two kids would start picking on each other during recess, lobbing insults back and forth, and then all of a sudden one of the kids would start crying and run away. Then everyone would turn to the other kid and say, “How can you be so mean to him? You’re such a bully!”

The bottom line is that the Twins have beaten the White Sox in each of the past three seasons and have, at different points in different seasons, been in a very heated race for the division lead with them. At the same time, the White Sox have always said similar things to the stuff coming out of their mouths right now — they aren’t worried about the Twins, the Twins are lucky, the Twins aren’t very good. You can find quotes like that from each of the past three years, from Ray Durham and Billy Koch to this current group of second-place finishers. The White Sox are, without a doubt, the team with the most lopsided trash-talking-to-wins ratio in baseball.

Oh, and by the way, Torii Hunter had just a little reason for shouting things into the Chicago dugout and rubbing salt on their wounds. You see, Freddy Garcia hit him in the back with a fastball in the first inning, presumably as retaliation for an incident that happened six weeks ago (back when there was actually a race), when Hunter ran over catcher Jamie Burke on a play at home plate. Yet, staring into the opposing dugout and throwing a few barbs their way is apparently “a bit excessive” and “uncalled for.”

Without even knowing it, Garcia actually summarized my thoughts on this entire “rivalry”:

“If you’re going to do something, do it,” Garcia said. “Don’t (deleted) talk about it.”

That whole “actions speak louder than words” thing might be something for the White Sox to work on this offseason. They can get an early start on it too, while the Twins play those stupid postseason games.

2004            W      L      GB
Minnesota      85     60     ---
Chicago        72     72    12.5
 
2003            W      L      GB
Minnesota      90     72     ---
Chicago        86     76     4.0
 
2002            W      L      GB
Minnesota      94     67     ---
Chicago        81     81    13.5

(Hell, you can throw 2001 in here too, although the Twins didn’t win the division that year.)

2001            W      L      GB
Minnesota      85     77     ---
Chicago        83     79     2.0

Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words, and as noted philosopher and Minnesota native Ric Flair has told us so many times: To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man. Woo!

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