By the time you read this, the White Sox might be packed and gone to parts unknown, to hunt wild animals (all the white guys), sacrifice live chickens (Santeria-practicing managers only), impregnate a few wives (hopefully their own), and to sulk and think about how things should have gone (pretty much everyone).
Or, fresh off another win, they might be getting ready to face the Minnesota Twins in the ultimate grudge match, a one-game playoff Tuesday for the AL Central between heated rivals that just wrapped up a volatile series Thursday, ending in a wild Twins win that sent the tailspinning Sox into second place for the first time in months.
"If we win, we'll hate each other a little less this winter," Ozzie Guillen said before Sunday's elimination game that set up a makeup game against the Detroit Tigers on Monday afternoon at The Cell.
After two lackluster losses, and five straight in all, the White Sox did win Sunday, 5-1, behind their ace Mark Buehrle. The steady, never-reach-90-Buehrle is a throwback kind of pitcher, the kind of guy who proposed to his wife in a hunting treestand and bragged that he spent an ensuing off-season impregnating her.
Buerhle is known for quick work on the mound as well, and he took care of the Cleveland Indians, thanks to four double plays and six strikeouts in seven innings of work. It was exactly what the Sox needed and it was the kind of performance that could spur the team on for a post-season run. It gave confidence back to a team that was all but packed for a fall vacation.
Buehrle, who relies on control and a cut fastball, threw an uncharacteristic 121 pitches in his last start, and on three days' rest, threw another 111 Sunday. Guillen said before the game that Buehrle would go until his arm fell off, and he wasn't lying. If you've seen how the Sox bullpen has performed the last week, you would've done the same thing.
Buehrle said his arm felt fine afterward and would've gone another inning, but Guillen didn't give him that option.
The story of the day was that Buehrle did his job after two lackluster home starts by John Danks and Javier Vazquez, and the White Sox hitters backed him up. Paul Konerko, the team captain and a South Side institution at first base, homered for the third straight game, all but erasing his bust of a season, and Jermaine Dye golfed a two-run single to short center in the seventh. Dye, who's been slumping lately, pumped his fist as he ran to first and clapped once he got there.
The Twins won too, finally beating Kansas City, the hottest team in the division suddenly, as they seem to be on a similar equilibrium as the Sox. Minnesota may have swept the Sox last Thursday, erasing a 2 ½ game deficit, but they also hit an emotional high with their walk-off win last Thursday and couldn't take two of three against a hot Kansas City in the Metrodome. Now, if the Sox can beat Detroit, the Twins must come to Chicago, where they are 2-7 this season, for the right to face Tampa Bay.
But the Sox still have to beat the Tigers, led by sweaty former Sox pitcher, "Big Game" Freddy Garcia, whom they dealt to Philadelphia before the 2007 season, getting young ace-in-training Gavin Floyd, who incidentally will start for the White Sox. Garcia is family to the Sox manager, as he married Guillen's wife's niece. (Trust me, they're close.)
When asked if Guillen would instruct his son, nightclub enthusiast Ozzie Jr., to take Garcia out tonight, the manager laughed. "We took (Tigers slugger Miguel) Cabrera out and he went 5-for-5 with two home runs!" Guillen said of a game earlier this season. "I was suffering in the dugout, asking for more water, and he's hitting them out."
Guillen and Garcia have been exchanging texts ever since it became apparent this game would be needed. Guillen has said all season he didn't think Garcia, who signed with the Tigers after getting released by Philadelphia due to injury, would pitch at all this season. His words, and texts, could be coming back to haunt him.