As the White Sox head into the final month of the season, there is more at stake than a playoff berth.
Jobs are on the line -- and general manager Kenny Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen both could be in big trouble if the Sox fail to chase down the Detroit Tigers and win the AL Central.
You can blame players such as Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Jake Peavy and Gordon Beckham all you want for the White Sox' up-and-down season, but Williams and Guillen are the ones more likely to incur chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's ultimate wrath.
"Grumpy," Williams said when asked to describe Reinsdorf's current mood. "Grumpy. We had expectations. We still have expectations. You never know how this thing can swing."
The Sox are on the upswing, and Tuesday night's 8-6 victory over the Twins was their fifth straight. Coupled with Detroit's 2-1 win in 10 innings over Kansas City, the White Sox remain 5 games off the pace.
If the White Sox can keep rolling through September and make the playoffs, Williams and Guillen are near locks to return in 2012 and beyond.
If not …
"I've got to sit down with Jerry at the end of the season," Williams said. "At this point in time, we're an underachieving club. So that means players, coaches, the manager and myself, we're all under review. This is professional sports. Am I telling anybody anything you don't know?
"But I've also said from the very beginning that all I want is to focus on the field and I would hope whenever the door is shown to us, maybe we walk out that door together. Because everyone has an expiration date."
Speaking of expiration dates, Guillen's contract is up at the end of next season.
He is going to Spain for a three-week vacation whenever the season happens to end, and Guillen said he wants an extension before that time.
"They have to pay me for 2012, that's all I know for sure," Guillen said. "My hope is, yes, I hope I'm coming back here. I don't think what (I've done) in Chicago, I should be a one-year manager waiting for the next year. Hopefully I get a contract again."
Guillen sounds like he'd be willing to take a manager's job with the Florida Marlins or some other team, or work as a TV analyst if an extension fails to materialize.
"That's up to them," Guillen said. "If Jerry wants me back, I'm more than happy to be back. If not, nothing's going to change. Obviously I'm going to be sad because I'd leave the town and the team I love."
As for continued speculation that Williams and Guillen cannot work together, the notion was shot down again.
"I pause because I don't want to give too much credence to something that's old," Williams said. "It's old, it's stale. It's boring. And I think it's grossly exaggerated from the very beginning and very malicious intent. Certainly intent to divide."
Guillen and Williams had some issues last season, but this year has been different.
"I think me and Kenny have a better relationship than anybody in baseball," Guillen said. "We grew up together with this organization, we played together.
"Then, the friendship is a little different. I don't think (Tigers manager) Jim Leyland is hugging and having a drink with the general manager. We're still good friends, not great friends like we were. But, yes, we can (work together). Why not?"