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updated: 8/10/2012 11:44 AM

Rios a huge difference maker for White Sox

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  • White Sox right fielder Alex Rios celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run game-winning home run during the 10th inning Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.

      White Sox right fielder Alex Rios celebrates as he rounds the bases after hitting a two-run game-winning home run during the 10th inning Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.
    Associated Press

 
By Mike North
The Rebel Insider

I sauntered into the sports book at the M Resort Casino in Las Vegas the other night, and a couple of my buddies were clutching their bets for the Angels/White Sox game.

As I looked at the big screen, Alex Rios was getting up to bat in the 10th. I told them, I hope you guys have the Sox, because Rios is going to get a hit. When they said they had the Angels, I told they were in big trouble, because Rios has been a star this year.

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Last August, I would've said the bet was a good one as Rios was a strikeout or double-play waiting to happen.

We all looked at the screen as Rios hit the ball into the left field seats for a home run. I felt bad for my guys as they tore up their tickets.

All the pub has gone to other players on the Sox, but the quiet Rios has been getting it done. Who had him at the beginning of the year hitting .300 in August and getting clutch hits? Kenny Williams took heat from almost everyone, including me, on the Rios deal when he underperformed last year.

There are two reasons for the difference in Rios this year: his move to right field and Robin Ventura. As good as he has been at the plate, Rios has played even better in the field.

When my pals looked at me as that ball left the park, all I said is don't blame me -- blame it on Rios.

More on Demp

Not that he needs a tag day, but being a Texas Ranger could hurt Ryan Dempster's free-agent status. Reportedly, Dempster didn't want to go Atlanta, and was hoping to go to the Dodgers. It seems word got to the Dodgers that Dempster was allowed to listen to conversations between Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, and Dodgers brass. The talk went nowhere and there now may be a strained relationship between LA and the Cubs.

Well, the real victim is Dempster. I did a variety of radio hits around the country when Dempster was traded to the Rangers. I told them all Dempster is a National League pitcher, and when he faces American League lineups such as the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Angels, or the Chicago White Sox, they will all make him look ordinary.

Well at least after one game my prediction looks right. In 4 innings, Dempster gave up 8 runs and 9 hits. The Rangers scored 15 runs to bail him out, but if this keeps up look for Dempster in his free-agent year to possibly end up in the bullpen. He has time to straighten out, but I'm not liking his chances.

Busting the Broncos

I saw where the over/under bet line for the Denver Broncos wins is 9 victories.

The experts at ESPN, like former Broncos Mark Schlereth and Tom Jackson, are ridiculous. Jackson visited Broncos training camp a week or two back, and was close to weeping about how Peyton Manning is like a living breathing computer on the field.

That network and others in our business have the Broncos playoff bound. I've heard they're going to win 10 games or 12 games, and Manning will be hoisting the trophy at the end of the year.

Why is Vegas laying the line at 9 wins then? Because it ain't gonna happen!

At the end of his career, Manning will have as many Super Bowl wins as Trent Dilfer and Doug Williams -- one! Like Three Dog Night said in the song, "one is the loneliest number that you'll ever hear," that number will also be Manning's legacy.

More Sox talk

Who is your White Sox MVP this season? Send me an email at Mike@NorthtoNorth.com.

• Mike North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at dailyherald.com. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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