The Detroit Tigers barely snagged the AL Central division from the Chicago White Sox in 2012, which was surprising to all involved. Detroit winning the division wasn't the surprising aspect, no, that was what was what everyone predicted in Februay. Chicago contending like they did was the weird part.
So much so, that it led Tigers manager Jim Leyland to respect Robin Ventura, rookie manager of the White Sox, as noted by CSN Chicago. "I thought he did an unbelievable job for a first-year manager," Leyland said. "He kind of made it look easy to be honest with you. I didn't like that too much."
Leyland said that the team was worried they might not have what it takes to win the division at one point last season. He said he could remember Gene Lamont saying "We'll catch them, but I don't know if we'll beat them." He said the White Sox were a tough team.
It's worth noting that Leyland's first stint as a manager ended with his team losing 98 games, 44 games out of first place in the division. Knowing that, it's easy to see why he would both admire and perhaps hold a grudge against Ventura during last season.