Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Morneau and Crain add to AL Central rivalry

The beginning of the rivalry
Two Canadian born players may have added to the rivalry between the Twins and the White Sox over the offseason. Here is the brief background of how this storyline has played out over the offseason (as reported by ESPN Chicago and Sports Illustrated): 

Jesse Crain has left the Twins to join their one of their most heated rivals in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox. Justin Morneau takes the rivalry with the Sox very seriously. Crain has heard from many of the other members of the Twins team to congratulate him on his new contract. Morneau is the most prominent player not to have offered some form of congratulations.

This can be looked at from two sides of the argument. Some fans will take this to mean that it increases the feud between these two clubs. Others will look at it as not that big of deal and the media is stretching to find a story in the doldrums before the season begins. 

Below you will find both sides of the argument. Which side are you on?

Not a big deal 
1. Morneau has plenty of other issues: Morneau spent the entire offseason trying to recover from a concussion that cost him half of last season. This rest and recovery is the most important thing for Morneau to be focused on. He didn't need to worry about calling or texting former teammates.

2. Business decision by the Twins: Crain didn't even get an offer from the Twins, so there is nothing for Morneau to be mad about. The club made a business decision to go in a different direction. That direction didn't include the services of Mr. Crain for the foreseeable future.

3. Righty vs. lefty match-up: The White Sox have two power left handed arms (Chris Sale and Matt Thornton) at the back of their bullpen that will be used to deal with the lefty dominated middle of the line-up for the Twins. Crain is a right-handed pitcher and will most likely be used against the righties for the Twins. If they aren't going to face one another that often, it sure doesn't add to the rivalry.

Definitely a big deal
1. Increasing tension between the two teams: There has been an attack of the piranhas, a Game 163, and the first walk-off homerun in Target Field history. This sounds like quite the plot-line for these two teams and the rivalry continues to grow. Both of the managers have respect for the way that the other does their job, but they both prefer when their team comes out on top. There will be high and tight pitches and hard slides on the basepaths as tensions continue to escalate.

2. Close friendship shattered: Crain said he and Morneau had a close relationship and that they were good friends.  During the Mauer contract fiasco, Morneau said that if Mauer left for another team that he would never talk to him again. It seems that Morneau is applying this same technique to Mr. Crain. 

3. Morneau hates the White Sox: Mark Teahen of the White Sox has spent time with Morneau and Teahen made it clear that Morneau has a strong dislike for the team from the south-side of Chicago. This hatred fuels Morneau to be the best player he can be and the Crain situation only adds to that fire. 

Morneau has since be notified of the article and he said that he still considers Crain a friend. For fans, it would still be great to see these two face off against one another this season. 

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