Sox Drawer: White Sox got into Leyland's head

Sox Drawer: White Sox got into Leyland's head
December 6, 2012, 2:11 am
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NASHVILLE, Tenn-- What was the difference between the White Sox losing the AL Central Division in 2012 and the Tigers winning it?
Jim Leyland knows.
I truly believe, and I dont know how this happened, the fact that we did pretty good against Kansas City and they did not was probably the decisive margin in the division, to be honest with you, said the Tigers manager on Wednesday. Its just freaky.
Yes, it was.
White Sox fans have the mental battle wounds to prove it.
Facing a team that wound up losing 90 games, the White Sox went 6-12 against the pesky Royals -- and even the victories werent easy. Five of those wins were decided by two runs or less.
Meanwhile, the Tigers pounded the Royals all season, going 13-5.
Considering the Tigers won the division over the White Sox by three games, you dont need to be amathematicianto know that Kansas City, by itself, decided who went to the playoffs and who did not.
The White Sox dont find this humorous, but apparently someone at Major League Baseball does. The White Sox open and close the 2013 season against their annoying friends from Kansas City.
Leylands Tigers were expected to run away with the division, but in the middle of the summer when the White Sox had as much as a 3.5 game lead, the Tigers, with a 133 million payroll were worried about their chances, legitimately concerned that they might not have what it took to snag the division away from the White Sox.
You read that correctly.
I can remember Gene Lamont saying during the season, Well catch them, but I dont know if well beat them, Leyland admitted. We caught them one time, then they took off on us again, and we finally caught them and passed them for good, but it was a heck of a race. They were a tough team.
When Leyland became a manager for the first time with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986, his team lost 98 games and finished in last place, 44 games out of first. So for him to watch Robin Ventura, who had never coached or managed a single professional game in his life, and almost win the division, Leyland was a little perturbed.
I thought he did an unbelievable job for a first-year manager, Leyland said. He kind of made it look easy to be honest with you. I didnt like that too much.
Losing 12 times to the Royals and 12 more to Leylands Tigers, Ventura didnt like too much either.
He and the White Sox are hoping to change that in 2013.