With the baseball season entering the home stretch, often signified by the first pre-season football game of the year, the AL Central remains up for grabs with the two teams I’ve mentioned since May, the White Sox and Tigers. The Sox have rebounded under new management and the Tigers are finally playing up to their billing. So who will win the AL Central?

I don’t think anyone can say at this point, but we will have a better idea beginning August 31 when the Sox head into Detroit. The Sox and Tigers will play seven times in two weeks that should determine the AL Central unless it goes 4-3 either way, then it will remain a stalemate with a little over two weeks to go in the season.

I’m also assuming that either team would be within 1-2 games of one another going into the first series, where a 3 – 4 game lead would basically allow the leading team to win one game in the series and still be in good shape. If both are playing well going into the series you will not see a sweep either way.

Also, back in May I wrote a piece about how the Tigers and Sox were very evenly matched  and I still believe that. I think where one struggles, they other has a component to offset it. I have respect for the Tigers as their front office has done a great job of rebuilding a suffering franchise in the early part of the 2000s. The Tigers have players in place that will make them legitimate contenders for years to come, and you have to respect that, but you don’t have to like it.

Anything I ever say negative about the Tigers is out of hated respect for them, not to be confused with my negative comments about the Cubs. The Tigers according to the “pro-analysts” were supposed to run away with the division this year and its the Sox that have spent most of the time in first place.

The other surprising element to this season is the AL Central has a legitimate shot at having two playoff teams this season, especially with the extra Wild Card spot. That’s something that no one saw coming, we certainly did not at MLA. To be honest, we all knew that the Sox had talent, but it seemed all washed up after 2011 and too young for 2012. The list of things that needed to go right for the Sox was at least five deep – Rios bounce back, Dunn  bounce back, Peavy bounce back, Viciedo replace Quentin’s numbers, and legit lead-off man.

I would say they had just about all that happen plus Sale has replaced Buehrle with barely a hiccup outside of his extended rest. Viciedo isn’t hitting 40 homers, but he’s not injured and has decent power numbers for a number seven hitter.

With the Sox having everything gone right so far, you can’ t help but think that things could go the other way in a hurry, but I don’t think Robin Ventura’s approach to the game will let that happen. He puts the team before himself and has made all the right moves, which will not change in the final 8 weeks.

I will laugh if the Tigers lose to the Yankees today, only because when the Sox played a four game series against the Yankees earlier this season they went 2-2, thus bringing their similarities this season one step closer this season.

White Sox and Tigers’ fans, sit back, relax and strap it down, because it should be a fun finish!