TA: Sox AL-best record 'putting no trophies in our pocket' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Tim Anderson's eyes haven't been diverted from baseball's ultimate prize.
Not even the White Sox waking up Monday, on the precipice of the biggest series they've played in years, with the best record in the American League was a big enough accomplishment to steer focus from winning the whole thing.
"In reality, we haven't done nothing. We haven't really done anything," Anderson said before Monday night's game against the Minnesota Twins. "So you can't say something is ours, we haven't really done anything.
"Yeah, we've got the best record, but that ain't putting no trophies in our pocket. That ain't doing anything for us."
White Sox fans ought to be jazzed by that championship dedication. And Anderson happens to have a point.
The White Sox should certainly be pleased, giddy, even, with their current status as the Junior Circuit's top team, reflective of a rapid rise out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. They've got the league's best offense and at the moment look as capable of winning the pennant as any team.
But this week brings a whale of a challenge, a four-game set with the division-rival Twins, who come to the South Side winners of 10 of their last 12 games and just a game back of the White Sox in the AL Central standings. The White Sox, for all their winning — a 20-5 record in their last 25 contests — haven't done much of it against winning teams. Against the Twins, the Cubs, the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Cardinals, they own a 7-11 record.
If they're truly going to make noise come October, they'll need to show they can consistently win series against good teams. The opportunity to show that starts Monday night.
"These are the moments that you want to be in. Tonight, it's playoff ball, really," Anderson said. "It really goes out to see who wants it the baddest. ... It's been showing, we've been playing real well. So hopefully we can put together a win tonight and beat a pretty good ball club."
The White Sox will face mostly good teams from here on out, with 11 of their final 14 games against the Twins, Indians and Cubs. Only a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds stands apart. Once the regular season ends, it'll be another good club and nothing but good clubs in the playoffs.
This is all new for these young White Sox, in their first pennant race, in their first uber-meaningful division battles, in their first playoffs, eventually. In other words, it's exactly what they wanted when this rebuild started four years ago.
"You've got to start somewhere," Anderson said. "It has to start somewhere, and I think tonight is the night that we start. These are the moments you want to be in. I want to be in these moments. I like playing in games like this, it makes it more exciting and makes you bring a lot more energy. But we're going to take it as any other game and go out and compete. They put their pants on the same way we do.
"It's getting down toward the end of the season and playoff ball is about to start, so why not go ahead and start training for that right now and treat every game as if it is playoffs? This series here is a big series, we need this one.
"I think the guys are ready. They know what we're facing, they know what's on the line. There's no secret what we're trying to do here."
He's right. It's no secret. The White Sox are thinking as big as they can. As Anderson said last week, they want to win the whole thing.