Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This Is Big

If you had told me before the season started that a White Sox-Tigers series in early June would be huge, I would have said, Yeah, and Togo is going to win the World Cup.

But here we sit. Less than one week into June and the defending champs are hosting the perennial scrubs in a series that has all sorts of implications for the rest of the summer. Now, players on both sides are sure to say all the right things and sprout all the old, tired cliches. They'll say it's still early, that there's a long way to go, and that the two clubs will meet several more times later on. Which is all true. But another cliche I like is the one about how pennant races aren't won in June, but possibly lost in June. Or something like that. Whatever. You know the one.

Point is, the Pale Hose are at a sort of crossroads at the moment. They've lost three series in a row and, worse, have played bad baseball while doing so. They've made errors, been caught in rundowns, failed to move runners over, and have pretty much committed any costly mistake that can send the typical baseball fan into bouts of pure rage. And I've been raging. Believe me.

Listen, the Tigers are a team desperate to believe in itself. If they come into Chitown and take this series they'll walk away with all sorts of good vibes, which, believe it or not, can have a huge effect on how the remainder of the summer goes. We don't want that. We want the Tigers to suddenly remember that they're the same team that recently lost 119 games. We want them to fade away as a team the way Chris Shelton has as an individual.

If the Sox take this series, the Tigers limp away wondering if they're ready just yet for the big time, especially after they recently went only 2-5 against the Yankees and Red Sox. Plant the seed of doubt. Now. In June.

I'm not going to fly off the handle just yet and accuse the Sox of becoming fat and lazy following their World Series title. That would be an overreaction, especially when they curently sit 12 games above .500. Hey, they're in a slump. It happens. At one point last year they lost seven in a row and I was balancing myself...on a ledge...on one leg...blindfolded...while drunk. But they righted themselves then, and they can right themselves now.

But that time has to come sooner than later and now - right now -would be as good a time as any. You can only blame the losses on a slump for so lung until - bam! - you're no longer in a slump, but rather, just not a very good baseball team.

And I know the Sox are good baseball team. We all know they are. They're so much better that what they've been showing.

Here we go now.


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