Monday, October 05, 2009

Twins Deserve Division More, But Almost Blew It

One more.

One more trek up to that damn Metrodome for the Tigers.

One more jab in the side by its pincers.

One more hellish night spent in the freakish loudness of that sorry excuse of a ballpark--big league, minor league, Pony League, or Little League. I wouldn't even let my kid play tee ball there, if you want to know the truth.

One more notch the Minnesota Twins can add to their belt when it comes to playing the Tigers in their own stadium. Hell, they must be on their third belt by now, the Twins.

Or will it be?

The Tigers have a glorious chance before them.

They can, in one game---one fell swoop, if you will---wash away just about every horrific thing that has ever happened to them in the Metrodome, if they can manage to beat the Twins Tuesday night in the one-game playoff for the AL Central title.

Think of it.

Think of how forgiving you'd be to the Dome if you see the Tigers celebrating on its carpet, the Twins' crowd collectively muzzled.

It's enough to make even a crabby, approaching middle-aged guy like me shed a small tear, or two.

Yes, that would be very nice. And who knows? No one is giving the Tigers much of a chance---why should they---so here's a chance to play underdog and shock the world.

But I submit to you that if the Tigers somehow manage to swipe this divisional flag out from under the noses of the Twins and their rollicking fans Tuesday, then the Tigers will have stolen something that is not rightfully theirs.

The Twins deserve this division. They're the better team, and they, collectively, played like it in these past few, frantic weeks.

They lost slugger Justin Morneau and instead of sinking further into their funk---the Twins were below .500 when Morneau went down---the Twins turned it on, fueled by contributions from, well, everyone.

It was Morneau-by-committee, and it worked.

The Twins' offense has been damn near unstoppable, which is mostly why they've gone 16-4 since losing Morneau, and thus erasing a six-game deficit.

And there's this.

The Twins beat the tar out of the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, and the Chicago White Sox down the stretch. Three of the Twins' four losses in the last 20 games have come against the Tigers. They are 12-1 against those other teams.

The Tigers, meanwhile, were swept in Kansas City and lost two of three to the Royals in Detroit. The White Sox went 4-2 against the Tigers down the stretch.

All that tomfoolery has put the Tigers in this position---having to go, one more time, to the Metrodome.

Well, good for them. They brought this on themselves. I don't want to hear any crabbing from them about the Dome.

The Twins' lineup, from top to bottom, is better. They play better fundamental baseball.

It would be a shame, yes, if the Tigers were to be in first place since May 10---nearly five months---and end the season in second.

But it's their own doing and they don't deserve it, anyway.

The fans, now that's another story. The beleaguered people of Detroit and, by extension, the entire state of Michigan deserve playoff baseball more than the good folks in Minnesota. Sorry, Minnesotans, but that's true, too. Hasn't this area taken enough of a beating?

If the Tigers blow this, if they aren't able to finish this heist---and that's what it would be---then they ought to issue a public apology for doing such a heinous thing to their financially-decrepit fan base.

Shame on the Tigers, if they raise all those people's hopes up for five months, teasing them, only to collapse in the season's final days.

It would be almost too much for these people in this God-forsaken state to bear.

But if the Tigers do win it, they'd be, at the same time, thieves. Took the Twins' division and away they ran, into the night.

The Twins rightfully own the Central Division. They're the best team, clearly. So some shame on them, too, for fooling around for 142 games and waking up barely in time for a late, 20-game run.

How fitting it is, both ways, that this playoff is being played in the Dome.

Fitting if the Twins win, because it would be one last "GOTCHA!" for the Tigers under that plastic roof, housing all those trash bags.

And incredible irony if the Tigers win, closing the Dome for good with such a monumental win.

If the Tigers lose, and I'm supposing that they will, they'll be sad and angry and frustrated, no doubt. They had this bank job on their fingertips and will have let it slip through their sticky fingers.

But they must also realize that if they had won the division, it would have been criminal. You can't play 163 games without any offense from catcher, shortstop, left field, and DH and have it not be considered a heist if you win it.

If the Twins win then the correct and deserving team will be AL Central champs. If they lose, then they ought to be the team that's sad, angry, and frustrated. Nothing worse than being the better team and losing.


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