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Reading the White Sox their rites

Prince Fielder (with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch Thursday) is too much for White Sox contend with.  |  Carlos

Prince Fielder (with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch on Thursday) is too much for the White Sox to contend with. | Carlos Osorio~AP

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Updated: February 28, 2012 8:21AM

This weekend’s SoxFest is no longer about which players are showing up for the annual fan fest. It’s no longer about whether fans will lob tough questions or softballs at White Sox general manager Ken Williams.

No, that all went out the window Thursday with Prince Fielder’s first appearance with the Detroit Tigers.

There’s only one question that has any relevance the next three days: Will it be a closed casket at the Palmer House Hilton or an open one?

That’s what happens when the signing of a Prince makes the Tigers kings. They stay on top, and the Sox arrive at spring camp next month DOA, before the first pitch is even thrown.

‘‘Dreams come true,’’ Fielder said in his news conference at Comerica Park.

For the rest of the American League Central, so do nightmares.

Even with Victor Martinez likely lost for the season with a bum knee, the Tigers likely had enough talent to win the division without Fielder. But with a $214 million deal for Fielder over the next nine years, Motown has pushed its foot on the throat of the rest of the Central.

If there was a division screaming for a hostile takeover, it’s the mess in the Midwest.

Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau is one blow to the head away from thinking he’s a French-Canadian double agent named Guy, while Joe Mauer is the guy in the foxhole who’d rather push someone else onto the grenade than risk his hair getting messed up. Talented hitter, but marshmallow-soft in the heart department.

The Cleveland Indians are interesting, if we could get past the 25-man roster having more aliases than Fletch.

Then there are the Kansas City Royals, who have moved on to Reclamation Project 5.0, or is it 6.0? I’ve lost count.

That leaves the Sox, the one team in the division willing to go toe-to-toe with recent Tigers spending, but because of bad decisions, they can only put their foot halfway in the water while trying to convince us they’re swimming.

No GM should be angrier than Williams with the fact that Tigers architect Dave Dombrowski landed Fielder, not only because of the talent The Prince brings to the Tigers’ lineup but because while Williams promised a dynasty on the South Side after the 2005 World Series run, it’s Dombrowski who’s actually building one.

That became even more evident Thursday.

‘‘I just never thought this could happen,’’ Fielder said.

Very few did.

The Tigers were the ‘‘mystery team’’ lurking in the shadows that agent Scott Boras likes to tease potential buyers with.

And don’t let Fielder’s size fool you into thinking this is dead money. He is a competitor. He’s definitely not a signing who spent his previous days playing in non-pressure vacation destinations such as Cincinnati, Arizona and D.C., hitting some home runs between shooting deer and raccoon. No, he’s a baller.

Now he’s teamed up with Miguel Cabrera, who was acquired from the Florida Marlins right under Williams’ nose in December 2007. The reason the Sox fell short on Miggy: Not enough prospects in the system to tempt the Marlins. Thanks, KW.

It was then that Williams uttered this line: ‘‘All this has done has put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.’’

He proved to be right, as the Sox did win the division that year. But they haven’t won it since, and you can guarantee Williams won’t be expressing that same bravado this weekend.

What he should do is be honest and say, “I messed up big-time, and I need to fix it . . . and did everyone get a free Joe Crede bobblehead?’’

The last few years have reeked of dishonesty and ineptitude, from Williams’ relationship with former Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and his coaching staff to Williams not realizing that Nestor Molina — who was acquired in the Sergio Santos trade last month — wasn’t even playing winter ball this offseason. Sox fans deserve Williams being honest with them now.

And he should do so with a black suit on. That’s only proper attire for a wake.

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