Amid a Chicago White Sox fan festival dripping with positivism due to a bountiful off-season of signings and the re-upping of Ozzie Guillen for 2012 came a tiny note of discord from a fan during the Guillen-Kenny Williams public forum.
How, the loyalist asked, can the Sox improve on the utterly unacceptable 5-13 record against the Minnesota Twins?
“We’re the little kids,” said the fan. “They beat us up and take our lunch money.”
OK, here’s an angle I suggested at SoxFest to team captain Paul Konerko, always a great analyst of the game and the Sox’s paragon of reason. How ’bout beating the Twins in a couple of early series to establish the momentum and purge Minnesota’s typical psych-out strategy against the Sox?
Early or late, Konerko figured, if the total number of wins is on the plus side against the Twins, that’s the only figure that matters.
“You’ve got to have a good record against them,” he said. “You can’t have the record we had against them last season and expect to win the division.
“It’s important to have the (positive) end record against them. Against a good team like that, you might not beat them 15-4. But you got to try to rattle off 12-7, something along those lines, to be ahead of them. If you look at all those key matchups in the division, they kind of take on the same look every year.”
Still, wins early on are stashed in the bank. And the more the Sox prove they can beat the Twins, the more confidence they logically will gain.
“The Twins have stepped it up and are continuing to raise the bar,” Konerko said. ” They’ve been better and they’re not going back. I think everyone recognizes you’ve got to go chase that team down, they’re not going just going to fall back to you.”
A hunch says the 2011 season is finally going to provide the opening for the Sox against the Twins. Chicago loaded up with Adam Dunn while taking mainstay Twins reliever Jesse Crain away via free agency. Meanwhile, all the Twins accomplished was re-signing overachieving starter Carl Pavano while waiting for closer Joe Nathan to heal from Tommy John surgery. They lost more than they gained.
Head-to-head will make the difference. Sox fans can feel a lot more confident if their heroes are on the plus side of .500 in those games against the Twins by mid-season.