Monday, September 24, 2007

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 2-4
This Week: (9/24-26: MIN; 9/28-30: at CWS)

I'm not sure which is sadder: September baseball when your team has long ago been eliminated from playoff contention, or September baseball when the postseason hopes start swirling down the drain, slowly but surely. I think the latter.

Oh, how many September 1sts have come and gone in the past 15 years with the Tigers barely a blip on even the most optimistic of playoff screens? So we know of that heartache. But when you've got a shot as August expires, then you see that shot firing nothing but blanks the further the month goes on, well that just seems worse to me.

The Tigers, realistically, had an outside chance at best of making the playoffs this September 1st. But their chances weren't pie-in-the-sky. There was hope, if either the Indians or Yankees faded, that the Tigers could climb back into things. Well, neither happened (not even close to happened), and so now here we are, looking at Tiger elimination sometime this week, perhaps as early as tonight. Granted, many teams would like to stay in it mathematically thru September 23rd. But many weren't the best team in baseball at the All-Star break. And many more weren't defending AL Champs. Hence the bitter taste this week.

There's not much to say at this point. The Indians clinched the division yesterday, and they earned it. The Yankees will nail down the Wild Card this week, and they too aren't backing into the playoffs. The Tigers are going to be outsiders, and that's where they belong, based on their play in August.

So six games remain, and the only drama now is to see if the Tigers can reach 90 wins. They need to go 5-1 in order to do it. Last season, 100+ wins seemed assured when the Tigers found themselves with a 76-36 record in early-August. But they stumbled and finished with 95 wins. This season, 90 wins were all but guaranteed when the team was 57-36 in July. And look what happened.

It's why they play the full docket of 162 games, I reckon.



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