By Ben Finfer-
(CBS) There have been many predictions for 2012. None more ballyhooed than the one made by the Mayans in their cute, little calendar.
There were some made for the White Sox this year too. And while only Hawk Harrelson would consider a bad season to be as devastating as the apocalypse, it was a pretty rough preseason for Sox Nation.
For instance, Sports Illustrated thought the team would finish with only 67 wins. Obviously that was an overly pessimistic outlook, most likely printed with the belief that Kenny Williams would react negatively and garner attention for the the publication. But hardly anyone was predicting big things, fans included.
Let’s hope the Mayans are just as inept in the art of prognostication as baseball observers.
At the onset of the All-Star break the White Sox are in first place. They’re three games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and 3.5 ahead of the Detroit Tigers, the team most expected to be running away with the American League Central division.
But what happens next, in the second half? How do we handicap the remainder of a season that so far has been impossible to predict?
The answer… we can’t.
We can say what should happen. Alex Rios should regress to the mean. So should A.J. Pierzysnki. Jake Peavy should get hurt. Chris Sale should hit a wall. Robin Ventura should make mind-blowingly stupid mistakes. And Jose Quintana should go back to being, you know, Jose Quintana.
All of those are reasonable predictions. Smart ones, such as they were in April. Yet somehow the Sox are in first place, where no one thought they could be this deep into the season.
It’s true that in baseball, or in anything really, no one ever knows (unless you’re in possession of Biff Tannen’s sports almanac). However, in many cases we can be relatively sure. For example, the Pittsburgh Pirates are technically in position to win the National League Central. But a person can predict they’ll falter and feel pretty confident about it.
The White Sox are more difficult to gauge. It’s because their ceiling is so high and their floor so low. Plus there is nothing to warn us of which is coming next.
Maybe they’ll begin the second-half looking like the team that won nine consecutive games in late May. Or they could begin like the one that lost five series in a row in June. Maybe they’ll be the unstoppable force that swept the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Or the very movable object that lost twice in three games against them at U.S. Cellular Field.
The unpredictable nature of this organization extends from the field to the front office. It seems unlikely Kenny Williams will orchestrate a game-changing deal near the trade deadline. The White Sox have neither the money nor the prospects to make such a move. Yet for some reason I can’t help but wonder if Williams is devising a way to get something done.
Zach Greinke, Ryan Dempster, Wandy Rodriguez…the Sox shouldn’t be able to get any of them. And they likely won’t. But maybe they will.
Is there any ending to this story that would actually be a shock? A World Series championship, while improbable, is not inconceivable. Neither is a collapse in September.
Nobody knows. Except for Biff Tannen. And maybe the Mayans.
Ben Finfer is the executive producer of The McNeil and Spiegel Show, heard Monday-Friday from 9am-1pm on 670 The Score and 670TheScore.com You can follow him on Twitter @BenFinfer.