Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Morning Manager

(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 2-5
This Week: (8/18-20: at Tex; 22-24: at KC)

.500. The standard bearer for mediocrity. A winning percentage that basically says, "we win one, we lose one" -- all season long. Nothing exciting. No real flirtation with any sort of playoff contention. You win 50% of the time, you lose 50% of the time. No team has won a division or gained a playoff spot with this comme ci, comme ca approach.

Legendary Tigers manager Sparky Anderson used to say that "you can't do nothin'", or words to that effect, until you cross the .500 threshold.

.500 is now the goal of the Tigers. It's what they've been reduced to, in mid-August of a season in which .500 was to have been passed almost right out of the gate, only to be seen in the rearview mirror until October.

But the Tigers have only been over .500 for a handful of days this summer, and not more than three games over that standard of mediocrity. To say it's been disappointing is to utter one of the great understatements of the decade.

The Tigers sit at 60-64. They must go 22-16 the rest of the way to at least say that they finished with a winning record. Yet there is little to indicate that they can manage such a clip of winning over the final 38 games. It's been another miserable August, the third bad August in row for Jim Leyland in Detroit. A more angry, less delicate blogger could make the case that Leyland is a leader of choking teams -- unable to get the job done when the chips are down. Maybe he, himself, is a choking manager. Some could say that. I might not even argue to strenuously against that notion, truth be told.

Before the season, had you known that the Cleveland Indians, half of last year's ALCS matchup, would be wallowing, some 13 games below .500 on August 18, you'd have thought the Tigers would be running away with the division. As it is, the Tigers aren't even running away with third place; the Tribe is but 3-1/2 games behind Detroit.

"You can't do nothin'" till you cross .500. The Tigers barely did this season, and therefore, haven't really done nothin'.



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