Major league baseball is a funny game. On any given day, the team with the worst record can beat the team with the best record and nobody thinks of it as a huge upset. It happens all the time. Over the course of a very long season, normally the teams with the most talent eventually rise to the top. It averages out, no pun intended.
The Tigers are a hard team to get a handle on. When they're playing well, as they have of late, they're certainly capable of beating anybody. Yet, if a couple hitters go into mysterious slumps, and/or the pitching staff starts throwing too many balls where the opposing hitters' happen to be swinging, they could just as easily go on a losing streak. Beat the best one day, lose to the worst the next. You never know. Maybe that's part of the fascination of baseball.
As this is written, the Tigers have 65 games remaining in the 2012 regular season, and they're currently tied with the Chicago White Sox atop the AL Central Division. In other words, over the course of 97 games, Detroit and Chicago have battled to a draw. A lot can happen in 65 games. The Tigers could run away with the division like they did last year, or they could get cold while other teams get hot and -- who knows?
Once the post-season starts, it's a crap shoot. Every team is pretty good or they wouldn't be there. Weird things can happen in short playoff series'. The Tigers were certainly underdogs against the Yankees last year and they not only defeated the Bronx Bombers, but came within a whisker of knocking off the Texas Rangers who, on paper, were also a clearly superior club. In turn, the Rangers should have rolled over the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, who had barely made the playoffs to start with. We know what happened. A team gets hot at the right time, or catches a lucky break here and there, and you never know. It's a funny game.
Could the Tigers win the World Series this year? Sure, they have a shot, just like a lot of other teams. Thing is, they have to make the playoffs first, and this no lock.
Winning their division would certainly qualify them for post-season play, but if they don't, and fall back into the wild-card race, things might get a little dicey. Presently, the LA Angels are one game ahead of the Tigers, and the Oakland A's a half game ahead. The Baltimore Orioles trail them by one game and the Tampa Bay Rays by two. Let's not forget about the Cleveland Indians, who have had the Tigers number so far this year, winning 6 out of 7. They're only 3 back, hardly out of it.
Like the old children's party game, when the music stops in October, there's not going to be enough chairs for everybody. Some of them are going to be on the outside looking in and wondering what happened.
If the Tigers win their division, they'll basically make the quarter-finals of the World Series tournament. They would have a ticket to the show. Anything can happen. However, if they fall back into the wild-card race, it's no guarantee they will even qualify. Would any Tiger fan like to see their team in a one game "win or go home" playoff if Justin Verlander isn't available to pitch it? Even if Verlander was on the mound -- it's like Russian roulette. The odds are heavily in your favor, but do you really want to put that gun to your head and pull the trigger? I don't think so.
65 more to go. We'll see. It's a funny game.