Monday, June 06, 2005

Why the Sox Are Like Luke Skywalker

Despite Bat-Girl's insistence on calling the Big Hurt "Darth Thomas," I am of the opinion that the 2005 White Sox are more like Luke Skywalker. And for this reason, like Luke flying over the Death Star with a Tie Fighter on his tail, the Sox can't shake the Twins. Despite having the best record in baseball, and being 18 games over .500, the Sox have a slender 3.5 game lead on the Twinkies - and, as I discussed in my last post, that's mostly due to the 4 of 5 games the Sox won from the Twinkies in April.

I was talking to my brother about the Sox's inability to shake the Twins this weekend, and he said something that has been on my mind for a while. Three and a half games isn't a lead. It's just an edge. Three and a half games is made up in a three-game series; if the Sox are swept and the Twins sweep, they are, for all intents and purposes, tied. My new standard is five games - five games in the standings is a lead.

In 2000, the last time the Sox won the division, it was a bit different. They were 33-23 through 56 games (4 games behind this year's pace), with the Cleveland Jndjans 1.5 games back on June 5th. But they were powering through the schedule at that point, going 22-7 over the next 29 games to top out at 55-30, while the Jndjans had faded to 11.5 games back at 43-41. That was, pretty much, all she wrote for the 2000 season. The Sox went 40-37 the rest of the way to cruise to the division title.

The Sox need a similar stretch this year to put the Twinkies away. Indeed, were the Sox 33-23 now like they were in 2000, they'd be 1/2 games behind the Twinkies. The next 30 games look like this:

3 @ Colorado (19-36, 15-13 at home)
3 @ San Diego (34-23, 19-8 at home)
3 v Arizona (30-27, 14-15 on road)
3 v Los Angeles (29-27, 14-12 on road)
3 v Kansas City (17-39, 6-20 on road)
3 v the Cubbies (30-25, 15-13 on road)
3 @ Detroit (26-28, 13-12 on road)
3 @ Oakland (23-33, 15-13 at home)
3 v Tampa Bay (20-37, 4-23 on road)
3 v Oakland (23-33, 8-20 on road)

You have to figure the Sox need to at least split the next road trip at Colorado and San Diego, and then go 8-4 or better at home during the 12 game home span. If they can close out the last 12 games before the All Star Break with a 8-4 stretch against poorer teams (Oakland, Detroit, Tampa), they'll go into the break with a 56-30 record. That MAY be good enough for a lead on the Twinkies.

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