I had tickets for today's game and so I'll admit - I was hoping the Twins would wait a day to clinch this thing. But the Twins did what the Twins have done recently - outlast inferior teams - and rode an eighth inning comeback to win adn drive the magic number down to one last night. Then the White Sox did what they have done recently - lose - and the AL Central was clinched. It's an event worthy of a couple of rushed notes.
Once again, depth proved to be the difference in the AL Central this year. The White Sox sprung leaks, were effective at filling them for a while, but ultimately were done when they couldn't effectively address their bullpen or lack of power. The Twins suffered injury after injury, including losing the leading candidate for AL MVP for the season, and still kept beating teams into submission.
You want an MVP? How about Bill Smith? You read that correctly. Bill Smith - the GM of the Twins. Just look at the roll he and his management have been on.
Last year during and after the trade deadline, they acquired Carl Pavano ('nuff said), Orlando Cabrera (who was the Twins second biggest contributor over the last two months of last season with clutch hits) and Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay (who ended up being bullpen fixtures for the next 1.5 years.
In the offseason, he acquired the depth that delivered another division despite an enormous amount of adversity. When Morneau went down, there was Thome. When the the rotation struggled, there was Duensing, because he had been pushed out of the rotation by re-sigining Pavano. And Smith brought in two middle infielders to bolster a core of Nick Punto, Matt Tolbert, Alexi Casilla and Brendan Harris. Without that depth, the middle infield is an issue all year because EVERY ONE of those guys spent time on the DL (except Harris, who was demoted and never recalled.)
And then, during the season, you have all the moves to bolster the bullpen. You can even throw in the fact that the Twins DIDN'T trade for Cliff Lee, who appears to be mortal.
I've had issues with individual moves (Capps-Ramos, cough, cough) but every one has 0 for 4 days. On the whole, it's been a remarkable run for Smith and his team.
As I walked the dog last night, the Twins had won and the White Sox looked like they were going to mail in their eighth straight loss. (By the way, how awesome is it that Mark Buehrle's "L" crowned the Twins champs?) I came home detemined to go out and watch the clinch with some friends I knew who were at the game, but it was going to be a tough sell to The Voice of Reason. So I walk in the back door - and she is literally shoulder deep in half-baked cookies.
TG: So, I'm thinking maybe we should join Bob, Kris & Than downtown to clinch.
TVOR: Have fun.
TG: No, I think WE should join...
TVOR: There is no way. Since 3:20 today I've been running around from school to dinner to piano practice to soccer practice to PTA and now I'm elbow deep in cookies so The Boy can....
TG: I'll get the kids up and to school in morning. You can sleep in.
TVOR: I'm IN!
So we told the kids (who were already in bed) that they were on their own. (Reaction: Eye roll from The Chatty Chatty Teen and exultation from The Boy.) We met the gang at MacKenzie's (awesome beer selection on on tap) and asked the bartender if he had Miller High Life - The Champagne of Beers. He not only did, he volunteered to put four tallboys on ice for us to chill until the White Sox completed their meltdown.
Yeah, we took him up on that offer.
We joined the rest of the bar in cheering every insurance run and every out - especially AJ's K. Then we watched former Twin Craig Breslow close out the game for our Twins and...
Thanks everyone for a great year. I can hardly wait another two weeks for the real season to begin.