TUESDAY MORNING MANAGER: Week 8
(My Weekly take on the Tigers)
Last Week: 5-1
This Week: (5/29-6/1: NYY; 6/2-6/4: BOS)
I know what Jimmy Leyland is trying to feed us, and I appreciate it. I'm just not in the mood for it right now.
The Tigers manager would have us believe that these seven home games with the Yankees and Red Sox are just seven games on the schedule. He says they hold no more meaning than if those games were with the Texas Rangers, or Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Or Kansas City Royals. He says he's wary of bandwagon hoppers. He wants us to believe that the Tigers having the best record in baseball on Memorial Day is nothing worth writing home about.
"I'd rather be in first place at the end of the season," he says.
But the Tigers, like it or not, are going to find that these games with the "big boys" from the Bronx and Beantown are indeed barometers. The team sits at 35-16, even after two straight shutout losses, yet 22-5 of that has been at the expense of the Royals, the Indians, and the Twins -- bottom feeders in the league. And they are 0-3 against the White Sox.
Don't get me wrong. If the Tigers go 0-7, or 1-6, or 2-5, it doesn't mean they're not a good team any longer. And if their record is opposite that, that doesn't assure anything either. So in that respect, Leyland speaks true.
But you can't tell me that even the Tigers players themselves aren't curious to see where their hotshot ballplaying puts them in relation to the vaunted Yankees and Red Sox. Certainly the fans are eager. The same with Internet bloggers and other riffraff.
The seven-game itch began ominously, with a Randy Johnson near-no-hitter. That's 18 innings in a row without a run crossing the plate for the Tigers. Even the greatest pitching can't win with that kind of offensive production behind it.
I'd like to see the Tigers go 4-3 in these seven contests. Keep some momentum, gain some more confidence, and maybe they'll even get a Sunday Night game on ESPN one of these days. That would be nice.
Even if Jimmy Leyland thinks I'm all wet.