September 21, 2003
Hey, that's me!
Last Thursday, I said the following about the American League Central:
"It's over. Finished. The fat lady is already off the stage. Elvis and Runelvys have left the building. You can stick a fork in the Chicago White Sox, because they are done.
If I were the White Sox, I'd start worrying about trying to beat Kansas City for second-place, because at least that's something they might have a chance at. Personally, I hope the Royals beat the snot out of Chicago during the 7 games they have left against each other before the end of the season."
To be honest, I was sort of kidding about the whole "trying to beat Kansas City for second-place" thing. But sure enough, Kansas City came to Chicago for a 3-game series over the weekend and took 2/3 from the White Sox.
The AL Central standings now look like this:
W L GB
Minnesota 87 69 ---
Kansas City 81 74 5.5
Chicago 81 74 5.5
This is a serious choke-job by the White Sox. I mean, I've said all along that I expected the Twins to overtake them for the division title late in the season, but I never expected Chicago to completely collapse down the stretch. Of course, I couldn't be happier about it.
Less than two weeks ago, the White Sox were in first-place and they had a 2-game lead over the Twins. Since then, they have gone 3-8 and are now in very serious danger of finishing in third-place. In fact, I'll say it right now, I think the White Sox will finish in third-place.
The Twins fan in me is hoping that the collapse this season will cause the White Sox to do a pretty serious overhaul during the off-season. I would assume Jerry Manuel is a goner, but I'm also hoping guys like Frank Thomas, Bartolo Colon, Roberto Alomar, Carl Everett, Jose Valentin, Paul Konerko and a few of the other veterans will be sent packing. I have no idea whether or not that is a possibility for Chicago, but it wouldn't surprise me if they attempted to go through a scaled-down rebuilding process, fitting new parts around Magglio Ordonez, Mark Buehrle, Joe Crede, Jon Garland and Miguel Olivo.
I would love to see them rebuild, simply because it would mean less competition for the Twins next year. And yes, I just admitted that I am already starting to look ahead to next season!
If the White Sox start making wholesale changes, I could see the Twins cruising to the division title next year. Kansas City has had a great year, but I still don't think they are "for real" in the sense that they are a playoff-caliber team, and they may be without Carlos Beltran next season too. I love the group of promising young players throughout Cleveland's organization, but I don't think they'll be ready to seriously compete until 2005. And the Tigers...well, they'll still be the Tigers. They could win twice as many games next year and still finish 20 games back in the division.
Of course, the Twins will have plenty of big decisions of their own to make this off-season, so I should probably forget about looking ahead to next year and just focus on thinking about how they can beat the mighty Yankees this October (I have some ideas, but you'll have to wait until later this week to hear them).
In other news...
With the Twins making their run for the post-season, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune did a story on Twins fans last Friday. It was on the Front Page of the paper, instead of the Sports Section, which is a pretty big deal for anything related to sports in Minnesota that doesn't have to do with the Vikings or one of the many stadium issues.
Here's a little bit from the story, which carried the headline of "Full Speed Ahead: Twins fans hop on bandwagon":
"On Thursday 39,948 fans flocked to see the Twins win 5-3 and increase their lead to 3 1/2-games over the White Sox.
The club was hoping to surpass Wednesday's crowd of 40,304, which was buoyed by walk-up of about 13,000 fans, many still filing in by the third inning. The total made it the largest midweek September crowd since Sept. 25, 1991.
Coincidentally, that was the last year the Twins won the World Series."
The story also included a bunch of quotes from various Twins fans, including Garrison Keillor.
Sadly, I am a poor college student living in a dorm room on the University of Minnesota campus, so I don't get the Star-Tribune. It is, however, my paper of choice (as opposed to the St. Paul Pioneer Press) and I read it every single day during the Summer, when I am living at my mom's house.
I usually check out StarTribune.com to read stories from the Sports Section every few days, but since the story on Twins fans wasn't in the Sports Section, I completely missed it. I did, however, become aware of a sidebar that apparently accompanied the article. If I didn't read the paper, how did I become aware of the sidebar? Well, because a whole bunch of people started showing up at my baseball blog, and they were coming from a link on StarTribune.com!
I traced all of my new visitors back through the link and found the following:
TWINS FANS ONLINE
Some Twin Cities baseball fans are offering up their wisdom and other stuff about the Twins on the Internet. Here's a sampling of Twins-related blogs.:
After looking at that for a minute and then realizing, "Hey, that's me!", I had two thoughts.
1) Wow, that's really cool.
2) I wonder if it's in the actual newspaper.
The "actual newspaper" being, of course, the print edition. You know, the thing people spill their cereal on in the morning and take into the bathroom.
You see, I've had the honor of being mentioned a few times, in a few different media outlets in the past year or so. Most notably by Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, but also places like the Chicago-Tribune and even the aforementioned Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In fact, right around this time last season, as the Twins headed for the playoffs, there was a very similar article published by the Star-Tribune (which is no longer in their free online archives), in which my blog was mentioned, along with TwinsGeek.com, as places for Twins fans to check out.
That article was "online only" and didn't make it into anyone's bathroom. Actually, as far as I can recall, the only mention this blog has received in something that is printed on paper was a plug I got in the New York Sun a few months back. It was pretty exciting for me and I even convinced the Sun to send me a copy (which I will probably frame at some point).
But being mentioned in the Star-Tribune, my hometown paper and my paper of choice, would be on a whole different level and would be a pretty big deal (to me at least).
I went to lunch with my dad on Friday afternoon and afterwards we stopped at a Barnes and Noble/Starbucks, where my dad "borrowed" a newspaper. While I shopped for baseball books, my dad apparently spotted the article about the Twins fans on the Front Page and then flipped to page 12A, where the story was continued. And sure enough, there it was - my name in lights (or in ink anyway).
I'm not sure why being mentioned in an actual newspaper is so much more exciting than being mentioned on ESPN.com or some other website that is equally as important. I think it's probably because, no matter how many great websites there are and no matter how many millions of people get the majority of their news from websites, it is still looked at as lesser form of media than newspapers, magazines and books.
I know I've had experiences where I've told people I know or even potential employers that I write about baseball for several different places. They get interested and ask where, and, as soon as I tell them BaseballPrimer.com or AaronGleeman.com or basically anything-dot-com, the eyes roll and all interest drifts away. It's an interesting thing really and I often wonder if someone like Rob Neyer has the same experience when telling people what he does for a living.
I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that, as I said, you can spill cereal on your newspaper and you can take it into the bathroom (or on an airplane or the subway) with you. Without printing it out, you can't take Rob Neyer's latest column into the bathroom with you. Well, I suppose you could if you have a laptop, but who wants to think about that?
Another reason for why print media is still king over online media is because, to quote a journalism professor I had last year, "Any shmuck can have a blog." Truer words have never been spoken and for proof of that, you need look no further than the shmuck who typed the sentence you are reading right now.
Link of the Day:
The Baseball Boys
Florida (Redman) +135 over Atlanta (Hampton)
Total to date: + 2,960
W/L record: 239-236 (1-0 on Friday for +100.)
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