Twins, White Sox maintain rivalry, respect

Twins, White Sox maintain rivalry, respect

CHICAGO -- The headline in one of the Chicago papers on Tuesday read, "I hate the Twins", in reference to a quote from White Sox starter Mark Buehrle.

But there was more to Buehrle's statement as his full quote said, "I hate the Twins because they are good and they win."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire actually really enjoyed the headline and said it is part of the reason why he loves the rivalry between his team and the White Sox.

"That's great stuff," Gardenhire said before his club's 9-3 victory in the series opener. "It doesn't get any better than that. It's a great article and that's why it's fun. Buehrle, we've faced him 10 million times. And that's the way it's been, back and forth."

Buehrle is set to pitch for the White Sox against Twins starter Carl Pavano in Thursday's series finale and Gardenhire joked that he looks forward to nights when the left-hander is on the mound due to his fast pace of games. There is a mutual respect between the clubs and Gardenhire said that the sentiments Buehrle expressed just reflected how the two teams feel about each other when they step on the field.

"The players get after each once the game starts, we're knocking heads and that's the way it should be," Gardenhire said. "You get after each other, knock each other down and do whatever it takes to win. That's why it's always been such a fun series."

While the Twins have had some important matchups with the Tigers down the stretch in recent years, Gardenhire said that the division rivalry with the White Sox is a little more intense based on things that have happened between the two teams in the past. He also credits White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen for bringing some fun to the matchups.

Of course it doesn't hurt that since Gardenhire took over as Twins manager in 2002, the Twins have won five AL Central titles and the White Sox have won two, with both clubs often squaring off with each other at the end. And that's why there is a respectful nature to the rivalry.

"I think it's turned into respect because it seems like our two clubs are banging heads quite a bit here at the end," Gardenhire said. "Don't get me wrong, we want to kill them and they want to kill us. That's never going to change, because when we play each other as much as we do, that's the way it's supposed to be. You should have a good rivalry inside your division with teams that are always competing against each other for divisions and so forth, and we've done that quite a bit."