Friday, August 05, 2011

Tigers One Mini-Roll Away from Putting Division On Ice

Normally, a baseball division as wretched as the AL Central isn't won, it's just not lost.

I've seen these divisional "races" before, played out in other years, in other divisions, in other leagues. The season is full of slapstick and teams slipping on banana peels, falling all over themselves in their quest to be the last ball club standing after 162 games.

The Tigers won't win their division---but they won't lose it, either. So you can draw your own conclusions as to where they'll finish.

Yet the Tigers could still win the division, despite 111 games of evidence to the contrary thus far.

And it won't even take very much to do so.

Going into last night's games, the Tigers were the only team above .500 in the Central. The Indians had been 24-39 after their miraculous 30-15 start. The White Sox were working on a five-game losing streak, unable to provide a match for the Yankees at US Cellular Field this week.

And as for the Minnesota Twins, the Jason of baseball? They still look dead, but you never know with them. You turn your back and then before you know it, the Twins are off the ground and nowhere to be found---until it's too late.

The Tigers can still win the division, as opposed to not losing it, and they can do it in the next 15-20 games. That's all.

The way the rest of the teams in the Central are playing, if the Tigers go on a mini-roll and win, say, 10 of their next 15 games, that might be enough to open a gap that is insurmountable for their competition.

Heck, even a three or four-game winning streak could push the Tigers' lead to six or seven games, at this rate of return.

I believe that what is so frustrating for Tigers fans is their realization that their baseball team could have put this division on ice by now, but a .500, mediocre July prevented them from doing so.

Even one mini hot streak in July could have the Tigers sitting pretty right now.

But it didn't happen, as the Bengals have played a maddening game of win, lose, win since late June.

This isn't a second half collapse so much as a second half teeter.

The Tigers could win their division---they could do it in the next couple of weeks, if the spirit moves them.

But it appears that they're content to just not lose it.

Does that inspire?


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