Friday, July 3, 2015

Speaking of Tigers.....

Well OK. The Pittsburgh Pirates just completed a sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Roughly half the season is over and, after all the local hype and hoopla about how great they were going to be, the Motowners find themselves at 39-39. The very definition of an average team.

The Tigers are 6 games behind the division leading KC Royals and should feel fortunate it's not worse. The Royals have been in a mini-slump losing their last 4. Detroit is also trailing Minnesota in it's own division by a few games and those pesky Cleveland Indians are only a couple more back.

At a mere .500, the Tigers are in 7th place in the wildcard race with only two spots available. Can they turn it around? Maybe, maybe not.

The Tigers have a few bright spots. Miguel Cabrera continues to be what he is. 'Nuff said. Catcher James McCann has far exceeded all expectations, at least in the short run. Outfielder J. D. Martinez keeps pounding the ball. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was supposed to be slick with the glove, but is also sporting a gaudy .330 average so far. Yoenis Cespides in left field has definitely been an upgrade over last year's whozit situation.

But they have flaws galore as well. The same Iglesias has a history of putting up a good first half of a year -- but going into the dumpster in the second half. We'll see. Despite his lofty reputation, second baseman Ian Kinsler has been underwhelming so far. Third baseman Nick Castellanos remains an enigma. He's gotten better with the glove, but has never hit major league pitching like most thought he would.

Pitching-wise David Price is the real deal, but the rest of the starters are hit and miss at best. It's now halfway through the season and former ace Justin Verlander is yet to win a single game. Anabel Sanchez can be Tom Seaver one game and a batting practice pitcher the next. Pretty much the same goes with the others. They are whoever the Tigers could procure after losing Max Scherzer to free agency and trading away a couple of former decent starters. Some days they're good -- other days it's pinball machine time.

To assert the Tigers' collective bullpen is a bit iffy is like saying there might be a few casualties if nuclear war breaks out. Let's just say these guys aren't the most reliable relievers the game has ever seen.

All in all, the Tigers are probably just about where they belong at .500. A few assets, but a few liabilities as well.

And then there's another Tiger, one Mr. Woods. He just shot a very good opening round at the Greenbriar Classic. Four under par. Greenbriar has long been known for surrendering low scores, and the early leader is at 8 under par, but a 66 is a vast improvement these days when it comes to Woods. Will he be able to hang on Friday or crash and burn again? Hard to say. But there was the obligatory press conference. Eldrick could shoot 90 or 135 for 18 holes, but the media still wants to hear his thoughts. Why this is remains a good question. The man's ranked #220 in the world. Any other American falling that far would have to go back to Q-school to regain their PGA card. But with Tiger, the fascination remains. Incredible.

To boot, the Greenbriar is pretty much a second-tier tournament on the tour. Few "big names" even showed up to play in it. The heavyweights are all getting ready for the British Open in a couple weeks. If Tiger ever had a chance to do well in a tournament, this is the one. Here's wishing him the best but, again, we'll see.

If it turns out Eldrick is in contention on the back nine on Sunday -- this would be a big deal. And OMG, if he actually were to win it -- Katie bar the door and get ready for the biggest sports media blitz in recent years. He'd be front page news. Probably get another cover on Sports Illustrated. THE KING IS BACK!!!.  Sound the trumpets, yon peasants kneel in awe, line up the endorsements and TV talking heads and put the harem on notice. Or at least another blonde girl.

But if the opposite happens and Tiger bombs out and misses the cut against a weak field in a second-class tournament, he might as well give it up. It's over. Why even bother going over to the Old Course of St. Andrews for the British Open? Just so he can be blistered by 20 or 30 shots again by the young guns?

Let's get real. What's the chances of the #220 ranked golfer in the world winning a "major"? Even making the cut is a long shot. But because it's Tiger, there will be press conferences and photo ops galore. Count on it.

One is left to objectively wonder how bad and for how long this guy has to get before the trance wears off and people come to their senses. That's not even to mention his history of boorish behavior on the course, being discourteous to fans, and his well-publicized adulterous shenanigans not long ago. But he's always the perfect gentleman when the cameras are rolling.

This is a hero? One word.


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