Monday, September 18, 2006

MONDAY MORNING MANAGER: Week 24

Chicago Series Chance For Tigers To Display Killer Instinct

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 3-2
This Week: (9/18-20: at CWS; 9-21: at Bal; 9/22-24: at KC)


The thing about a 162-game baseball season is that, despite all those contests, you only get a few opportunities to place your cleats on an opponent's throat and apply pressure. Often, in fact, you DON'T get those opportunities. Only four teams from each league make the playoffs, after all.

The Tigers have a chance to squeeze the life out of the Chicago White Sox this week, and it will be fun to see how they go about it. The Tigers' magic number to clinch at least a Wild Card berth is nine, meaning they could lop off some serious mass from that number with a good series in Chi-town. Taking two of three would knock it down to five.

This will be a test for the White Sox, too. They've been mostly miserable lately, and their playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread. How much pride will the defending champs display this week? They, with a good series, can throw the race into a tizzy. That is, if the freaking Twins ever decide to lose a few here and there.

All this is unchartered territory for just about every Tigers player -- this pennant race/let's put 'em away thing. Few players have ever played for a winner, and I don't think that's a non-factor in the team's current 13-24 slide. Yet it's the White Sox who should be feeling the pressure, for they're the one team in this three-club race that's used up most of its mulligans. Their margin for error erodes with every loss, and last weekend's three-game sweep at the hands of the Oakland A's -- with former White Sox player Frank Thomas doing most of the damage -- certainly didn't help.

As difficult as it may be to concede first place, or not worry about the charging Twins, the Tigers need to treat the White Sox as the wounded enemy who needs to be vanquished without remorse. For in a three-team race for two spots, only one ballclub needs to be eliminated, correct? This is a great chance to make sure it's the White Sox who are on the outside looking in, and not the Tigers.

The Tigers are 1-5 in Chicago this season. But only not-ready-for-primetime teams would draw on that record's negative energy, as opposed to laughing in its face.

You know what you do when you can't laugh, don't you? You cry.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ozz said...

It seems like the Tigers have had some kind of mental block this season when it comes to the White Sox, as if they've been too intimidated to really go toe to toe with them.

Excellent game so far tonight, Sox triple play aside. Stellar outing from Rogers. Two HRs from Maggs.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Ozz said...

Wednesday's game will be the latest "Biggest Game Of The Season".

Which Tigers team will show up on Wednesday? The one that won with excellent pitching and power on Monday night? The one that couldn't pitch and damn sure couldn't hit on Tuesday night?

Are we going to see the Tigers do what they seem to do best these days? By that, of course, I mean win the first game of the series only to stink up the joint the rest of the series.

Do you trust Bonderman to get the job done?

Keep in mind, the White Sox had already claimed the season series by winning the last series between the two teams. In head to head matchups, Chicago is obviously (and by far and away) the better team of the two.

Are the Tigers going to come into Wednesday's game in a funk? More often than not this season, it seemed like maybe they were intimidated when they'd play the White Sox. Will the Tigers somehow find a way to come into Wednesday's game fired up, knowing that their backs are against the wall more than ever?

The Twins now trail the Tigers by a half game. When Wednesday night gives way to Thursday morning, will there be a new first place team in the division?

12:41 AM  

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