White Sox captain Paul Konerko caused a stir when he arrived at spring training in February and said this season could be a success even if the team didn't make the playoffs.

''Yeah,'' Konerko said. ''I still think that.''

As the Sox (42-37) close in on the halfway point of the season, their 4-2 loss Sunday to the New York Yankees left them 11/2 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians and three ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. But sitting in first place with a half-season to go didn't change Konerko's stance.

''If we don't win .?.?. then we just weren't good enough,'' Konerko said. ''Whatever our record is, that's how good we were. There isn't any extra story to it. Whatever our record is at the end of the season will be exactly how good this team was. If that's enough, it's enough. If it's not, we'll get 'em next year.''

Konerko was named to his sixth All-Star team Sunday, along with slugger Adam Dunn and left-hander Chris Sale. They were examples of things the Sox expected (Konerko), the bounce-back years they needed (Dunn) and the youthful injections they hoped for to signal a bright future (Sale).

Don't take Konerko's viewpoint to mean he doesn't care. He's the consummate professional and the most respected player in a clubhouse he is enjoying.

''Coming from where we were last year .?.?. there was not a good vibe around here for many different reasons,'' Konerko said. ''We've come a long way. The overall feeling in here has come a long way. The best thing about this team is that whether we win big or lose a heartbreaker, this team really shows up the next day to play one game. We worry about the next one. A lot of the credit goes to [first-year manager] Robin [Ventura] and the staff on that one.''

The Sox left New York with a split of their four-game series after winning the first two. Their offense went silent against Phil Hughes (9-6) after Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rios had RBI singles in the first inning. Eric Chavez and Robinson Cano halted Gavin Floyd's run of two superb starts with two-run home runs in the second and third, respectively.