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|Jeremy Bonderman is just one of several young stars who've been pivotal to Detroit's success.|
• Acquiring Neifi Perez. Forget for the moment that the man is a career .268/.298/.376 hitter, and just think about this: He has come over from the Cubs. Now, imagine the damned, fatalistic, abandon-hope-all-ye-who-enter-here stank he carries with him, would you please? It gives you chills, no? MINNESOTA TWINS THE GOOD
|Joe Mauer's sweet swing has him on top of the AL batting title race at the moment.|
CHICAGO WHITE SOX THE GOOD
That was good mojo. A ton of it. And now, what they're left with is the bad.
|Ozzie and A.J. aren't the darlings they were last season.|
Last year, the Sox were working against the drought-curse-schneidamadoodle, which meant they had everyone who had a pulse and lived in the continental United States throwing their hopes and wishes behind the White Sox. But who gets jacked up about adopting the defending world champs? The "A.J.'s a crazy, wild-card prankster tough who gives them an edgy edge" source? Gone with a Michael Barrett right hook and the birth of the "A.J.'s a peace-loving, mind-his-own-business, stay-out-of-trouble guy who gives them, well, pretty much nothing at all these days" scenario. I could tell you the heartwarming Jim Thome comeback is good for some juice, and it is -- but you'd guess right off that such a thing is probably negated by the fact that they had Mr. Thomas and let him go. You'd know that Frank was a pain and that he made life hard for Ozzie and GM Kenny Williams. Here's what else you'd know: When healthy, he's an inexpensive, ridiculously smart, powerful hitter perfectly suited to the DH role (12 home runs in 105 ABs last year). And you'd also know this: He was the franchise when the franchise was nothing, and Chicago owed him another shot. The powers that be should have been magnanimous, you'd say. They should have said, "We can't pay you big-ticket, but we want you to stay around; you're the White Sox, we get that, it means something to us." And you know what they said instead? They (well, Williams, anyway) said he was an idiot and they said he was selfish, and they said it to reporters, with all sorts of Blylevian terms thrown in for ill effect. And it shouldn't have gone down like that. It should have gone down the way it did in Oakland. The A's didn't pay Frank big moola, they just paid him some respect. And, you'd tell me, they have been justly rewarded with a nice big, roomy lead over the fading Angels. I could tell you this wildly improbable Jermaine Dye MVPish season is cause for some sort of viral optimism. But I couldn't leave out the way Ozzie benching that kid for not plunking a batter and dressing down Jon Garland in front of God and everybody else sucked the life out of the crew. Nah, the Sox, they're dead. The numbers might say otherwise. The numbers might say there are games left to play. But the mojo, she don't lie. Eric Neel is a columnist for ESPN.com and Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.