Love-Hate Relationships

Relationships. So many different kinds we have in life. We have so many with relationships with people such as lovers, friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, frenemies, virtual friends. We also have them with objects. Some of us even have them with sporting teams.  And yes, I would be one who has a relationship with sporting teams.  Most of the time, I have a great deal of love for my White Sox.  But there are times when the team plays so badly that I hate them.  On the flip side of that, I generally have a bit of a hate for the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.  Rarely do I have much love for either of those teams.  I can’t say that I have that kind of emotion for the Cleveland Indians or Kansas City Royals, but that is because those teams have been so bad for such a long time, that they don’t worry me as being any real competition or threat to the White Sox.

However, the Minnesota Twins really test my patience as far as a love hate relationship goes with something.  I was very excited and actively rooted against them in the 2010 playoffs against the Yankees.  I was an unabashed fan of the Yankees and it was because I dislike the Twins getting to the playoffs so much.  Granted, the reason they were there was because they played well and my White Sox blew it on so many occasions.  The Twins have also owned the White Sox like the Yankees have owned the Twins.  As much fun as it was to enjoy the Yankees making the Twins look silly, it was also painful to watch.  Mainly because I missed that my team wasn’t in the playoffs.

Of course, at the same time, watching the Twins make the playoffs yet again, made me wish that my team had an organization like the Twins do in a lot of ways.  If there is one nice thing I can say about Kenny Williams, the general manager for the White Sox it is that he is aggressive and will take a chance at finding lighting in a bottle and getting that key piece that is needed.  Something that truly irks me about the organization though is that from top to bottom, I don’t see everyone being on the same page.

In examining the Twins organization, they stress that what players do at the Major League level is the same stuff they expect from players in instructional league.  Players don’t advance to the next level until the organization is satisfied that a player will do things the right way.  This was super important for the Twins because they are a small market team that didn’t have a lot of revenue to go a buy the necessary pieces that were needed for a championship.  Because of this, they had to ensure their home-grown players were ready when they moved to the next level.  What is so cool about this (and irritating if you support a team NOT the twins) is that if a player at the Major League level gets hurt then the guy who is in the minors can easily be plugged in to that position and fill that void left.  It is as if the MLB player didn’t disappear because the guy who replaced him is more than adequate to handle things.  This is especially noticeable when it comes to defense.

I truly hate, yet am supremely envious of this.  Generally, the Twins are one of the best defensive teams in MLB and they rarely beat themselves with dumb mistakes that will lead to runs being score by the other team, whether by error or giving the other team extra outs to make plays.  When guys go down, they don’t miss a beat.  And this fact about the Twins makes me love them and hate myself for loving an “enemy” so much for what they do top to bottom.  Great examples from the 2010 season was early on, Joe Nathan, their closer had to have Tommy John surgery, which meant he was done before the season even began.  The guy who filled in for him, did an ok job and then at the trade deadline in July, they went and picked up a guy to help them out even more to help solidify the bullpen.  The 3rd baseman, Danny Valencia who ended the season did not appear in the line up for the Twins until June and he just slide right in.  He came up big for the team late down the stretch run as well.  Very few of the players on the roster are not home-grown.  And seeing how well they play, I am envious and kind of hate that they have so much GOOD home-grown talent. Of course, the player i love-hate the most is Joe Mauer.  He is their catcher and the way he goes about playing the game as well as the daily beating he takes as a catcher is just amazing.

On the other hand, when I see these things, it makes me sad that my team’s farm system is so depleted.  For the most part, I am on board with the idea that prospects are good for using to obtain pieces that are proven that will help you with the ultimate goal of winning a championship.  However, when I see the major league players who seem to be completely lacking in any concept of fundamental play, such as if you’re throwing a relay play from the outfield to make sure you hit the cut-off man to prevent the base runners from advancing, I get very sad because it seems to so rarely happen that those fundamentals are put into play.   In the past 10 years, the white sox have had VERY FEW players on the roster who are home-grown talent.  On the 2010 roster, only 1 pitcher and 1 position player for the entire season were home-grown.  And when injuries happened, it seemed like the replacements were just not quite ready, but as a fan I had to deal with those guys because there wasn’t anyone else to fill in.

I know many sox fans may disagree with me because there seemed to be a lack of hitting during the season and some of the players who filled in were relatively good with the bat, but in my opinion, those guys were horrible with the glove and that hurt the team more due to possibly committing an error and the pitcher being  unable to pitch over it or maybe giving the opposition more than 3 outs to work with.   What I can hope is good news is that in the last few years the White Sox have been doing some overhauling of the minor league system and perhaps there will be a little more focus on truly developing prospects as opposed to developing enough to trade them away.  Thus far, none of the prospects trade away have burned the team, but who knows when that day will actually come.  I would just like to once in a while see some home-grown talent and if the team needs to call upon those guys, I won’t be watching that guy playing with a bottle of tums worried he is going to be beyond horrible handling a glove.

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