What Will 2007 Tigers Do For An Encore?
When do we awaken from the wild party that was the Tigers' season last summer and early fall? Have we, already?
I was thinking about that recently. About the only bad thing I can think about the 2006 baseball season, besides how it ended, is this: How do the Tigers follow up such a momentous campaign?
Well, signing a future Hall of Famer like Gary Sheffield was a good start. But even if Shef hits 40 homers and drives in 130 runs, I find it hard to believe that the Tigers can top last season for thrills and excitement. They'll still be very good; of that I am certain. But now we expect good baseball, and you can be sure we'll get cranky if we don't get it.
Honeymoon over, hangover to come.
It won't necessarily be the PC thing to do, but the baseball followers around town will wail to the sportstalk radio stations and wring their hands if the Tigers stumble out of the gate. Doesn't take much to spoil the faithful around here.
Last season was the team's coming out party. 2007 will go a long way toward determining whether the Tigers are a major player in the American League for years to come, or are another in a list of ballclubs who were able to sell their collective souls to the Devil for one crack at a championship.
Doubtful that they are the latter. Too much young pitching, and too many crafty veterans. It's also exciting, to me, to theorize what appearing in a World Series so early in their careers will do to benefit guys like Justin Verlander, Joel Zumaya, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, and Curtis Granderson. Can't hurt, I reckon.
The 2007 Tigers will be everyone's preseason darlings, too -- just you watch. Everyone from The Sporting News to ESPN to Sports Illustrated will pick them to either win the Central Division or be the AL's Wild Card team again. There'll be no sneaking up on opponents next year.
Maybe next baseball season, the Tigers will take us on another fun ride, indeed. It just might not be quite as thrilling. It certainly won't be unexpected. We suddenly won't tolerate a baseball loser again. One good year is all it took. Typical.