The AL Central gets a hard time; both here at Walkoff Walk and around the greater Internet weblogiverse. While not short on parity-driven entertainment value, a first half Central trend continues right on into the post-Break dog days: this is the division nobody wants.
Looking at the standings from day to day, one can only assume the 2010 AL CENTRAL CHAMPS banner is made from hogweed and Lilith Fair tickets. The Twins rode a hot start, holding the pole position right into July. A sudden swoon and the resurgent Tigers shot to the lead. The white hot White Sox jumped on Ozzie's crazy train and went into the All Star break with the division lead in hand.
Since play resumed after the Bud bowl in Anaheim, each of the front runners had their turn to wilt in the heat. The ChiSox remain in first place, though they're bound and determined to give it away. Losing three of four to the previously ice-cold Twins; Sunday's heartbreaking loss was most shocking of all. The vaunted Chicago bullpen coughed up the lead with a four-run ninth, the winning run crossing after a bizarre throwing error by found money uberstud Alex Rios.
The Tigers, meanwhile, went out of their own to let opportunity pass them by after suffering a four game sweep at the hands of the Indians and major league débutante Jeanmar Gomez. The Indians! A team whose number one tradable asset is Stadium Mustard. The Indians; a team so bad they're behind the Royals in the standings. The Tribe is quite content to play the spoiler, sporting a .500 record within the division while getting mowed down in every other instance, interleague included.
The handsome bi-product of three teams duking it out to see who'll be last to lose the division title is the fine theatre created. Another single-game playoff to determine the lucky winner of being schmaltzed to death in Bronx or cowbelled to hell in Tampa is certainly a possibility. The battle to get there won't be pretty, and the real loser will be those of us who feigned interest all along.