Different personalities for Sox, Rays
Chicago more subdued because of playoff experience
CHICAGO -- Maybe it's the fact that the Rays won the first two games of this best-of-five Division Series against the White Sox.
Then again, maybe it's the Rays' exciting, up-tempo brand of baseball that gives off a specific aura.
Whatever the reason, Tampa Bay seems to be the only one of the two teams having fun in this opening playoff competition. So, maybe the White Sox are a talented squad that works together on the field, but doesn't necessarily get along off of it.
"Everybody gets along over here," White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson said. "But I could hang out with my best friend back home for seven-plus months and we would butt heads."
"I don't care if they like each other," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "The only thing I care about is make sure you play to win. When you win, people love each other, you know what I mean. It doesn't matter."
Guillen speaks the truth. When the White Sox claimed a 1-0 victory over Minnesota in Tuesday's tiebreaker to decide the American League Central title, there didn't appear to be a disparaging word said or a disagreement among the troops during the clubhouse celebration.
Ultimately, the White Sox are made up of veteran players, with enough youth such as Anderson and Alexei Ramirez, as examples, to keep the roster fresh. The White Sox have a handful of individuals active in this series who played a part in the 2005 World Series title. The Rays have a handful of players with any sort of playoff experience.
"You definitely see it's a little different on the Tampa Bay side because there are so many guys there who aren't used to being in a winning organization," Anderson said. "This is really exciting for them, which is great. We're not so much different over here. We're just a lot of veteran guys who try to keep the same mindset and not get too hyped up about it."
"To me, those guys just go out there and have fun," said Guillen of the Rays. "I think they enjoy the moment."
It's the same sort of subtle difference as comparing a team such as the Rays, who rely on speed, defense and a dash of power, to the White Sox, who rely on the home run and pitching. Both groups have come up winners, just through different approaches.
Of course, Tampa Bay's home-field advantage has something to do with its youthful enthusiasm. There's a chance the White Sox will look young again on Sunday and possibly Monday, with the series moving to U.S. Cellular Field.
"Right now, we're just playing and trying to win baseball games," Anderson said. "We're all on the same page."
"Once you win the World Series and go all the way, you know what it takes to do that on a personal level and a team level," White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko said. "It's the same stuff and routines you do all the time."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.