The White Sox and the Detroit Tigers had a makeup game in Chicago last Sept. 17. This was the last game of the season between the two contenders for the AL Central title.
The Mighty Whiteys won 5-4 to push their lead to 3 games. Chicago won again the next day in Kansas City to keep the lead at 3 and to push its record to 81-66.
This was a season of surprising success for a Sox team that was coming off a 79-win season. At that moment, there were three tremendous candidates for AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin in Oakland (the eventual winner), Buck Showalter in Baltimore, and Robin Ventura, the new manager in Chicago.
And then the White Sox stopped hitting. They scored three runs or fewer in 10 of the remaining 15 games. They lost 11 of the last 15 and finished three games behind the Tigers.
The Twins and the White Sox have played in the same grouping since Minnesota came into the American League in 1961: the 10-team AL from 1961 through 1968, the AL West from 1969 throuh 1993, and the AL Central since 1994.
There wasn't much history of fighting for pennants or division titles until 2001, when the Twins put an end to eight losing seasons and came back as a viable franchise. The Twins and the White Sox had these finishes over the next decade:
2001: 2-Twins 87-77, 6 behind Cleveland; 3-White Sox 83-79, 8 behind.
2002: 1-Twins 94-67; 2-White Sox 81-81, 13.5 behind.
2003: 1-Twins 90-72; 2-White Sox 86-76, 4 behind.
2004: 1-Twins 92-70; 2-White Sox 83-79, 9 behind.
2005: 1-White Sox 99-63 (won World Series); 3-Twins 83-79, 16 behind.
2006: 1-Twins 96-66; 3-White Sox 90-72, 6 behind.
2007: 3-Twins 79-83, 17 behind Detroit; 4-White Sox 72-90, 24 behind.
2008: 1-White Sox 89-74 (beat Twins in Game 163 playoff); 2-Twins 88-75, 1 behind.
2009: 1-Twins 87-76 (beat Detroit in Game 163 playoff); 3-White Sox 79-83, 7.5 behind.
2010: 1-Twins 94-68; 2-White Sox 88-74, 6 behind.
The 10 division titles of that decade were distributed six for the Twins, two for the White Sox, one for Detroit and one for Cleveland. And then came a new decade:
In 2011, the White Sox and the Twins had losing seasons together for the second time since 2001: the White Sox were third in the Central at 79-83, 16 games behind Detroit, and the Twins were fifth at 63-99, 32 behind.
Last season, the White Sox rallied and then collapsed. The Twins were dreadful from Day One again finished fifth, 66-96 and 22 games behind the Tigers.
The Twins and the White Sox are again destined for a summer-long battle in 2013. Unfortunately, it will be a battle for fourth place in the AL Central. The Tigers might be the best team in baseball and could win 100 games. Kansas City and Cleveland are much-improved.
The White Sox have backed up in Ventura's second season: aging, dreary at the plate, lousy in the field. The Twins entered today's matinee at Target Field against the White Sox at 18-18. That's not going to last and we all know it ... not with three or four outs in the lineup and this starting pitching.
Twins vs. Mighty Whiteys. It was fun while it mattered.