Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 4-2
This Week: (9/10: TOR; 9-11-12: TEX; 9/14-16: at Min)

This is what the Tigers' record is right now: 77-66.

This is what the Tigers' record probably needs to be in order to be in the mix for a Wild Card berth at the end of the season: 92-70.

This is what the Tigers' record, then, needs to be in the final 19 games of the season: 15-4.

This is what the Yankees' record is right now: 81-62.

This is what the Yankees' record needs to be in the final 19 games of the season -- if the Tigers end up with 92 wins -- that will put the Tigers into the playoffs: 10-9.

So, the Tigers' season pretty much boils down to these questions: Can the Tigers go 15-4? Will the Yankees only go 10-9?

Forget the AL Central title. It's all about the Wild Card now. And if the Yankees don't start losing some games, it might be Olly, Olly, Oxen Free for that, too.

The Yankees, over the weekend, did what the Tigers could not recently -- which is sweep the Kansas City Royals. So, despite a four-game winning streak at the end of the week, the Tigers' loss to Seattle Sunday kept them four behind the Yankees.

Let's make it even simpler. The Yankees' magic number is 16 to clinch the Wild Card. That means any combination of Yankees wins and Tigers losses totalling 16 will thrust the Bronx Bombers -- they of the very pedestrian first half, into the playoffs. And the Tigers -- possessors of a sparkling first half, will be watching it all on television. That's why they play 162 games, and why it's not important how you start, but how you finish.

So despite all my number crunching at the top of this post, just do this instead: Take a piece of paper and write a big number 16 on it. Whenever the Tigers lose, and/or the Yankees win, subtract one from it for each Tigers loss/Yankees win. Then you'll see, as that number dwindles, how much on life support the Tigers' season is.

It's not all that difficult, really. It's pretty cut and dry at this point.



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