Yours truly freely admits he's amongst the worst of all time when it comes to making predictions on anything, especially sporting events. I just knew Marvin Hagler would kill Sugar Ray. No way could Eli and the upstart Giants defeat Tom and the then undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. And those dopey college kids had absolutely no business knocking off the mighty Soviet Red Army team in an Olympic hockey game a few decades ago. But stuff happens, yet I'm still not as bad as SI's Peter King when it comes to making football picks. That dude is somewhere between shameful and cursed.
Yet every once in a while, the stars line up just right -- or wrong -- to make a prediction with full confidence it will actually come to pass. Such would be the case of the Detroit Tigers. In this forum, roughly a week ago, yours truly speculated the Detroit Tigers would eventually find their way into the basement of the AL Central division (see The Sorry Plight of the Detroit Tigers -- stage right).
And they have thudded to the division bottom indeed. Once 11-2 to start the season, the Tigers have played their last 115 games at 18 under par. This would be good in golf, but not so good in baseball. Eighteen games under .500 tends to have a team heading south in a hurry.
The Tigers were a whopping 19 games behind the division leading KC Royals. What's that? The Toronto Blue Jays just pummeled the puddy-tats 15-1 and KC won another one? Make that 20 games. TWENTY GAMES BEHIND? Who would have believed it possible back in April or May?
The Cleveland Indians recently passed the Tigers. Cleveland! So did the Chisox. Really? After all those division titles and post-season series' wins in recent years -- oh my -- how the Motowners have crashed and burned this year.
Yet in hindsight, it really should have come as no surprise. Detroit's once vaunted starting pitching staff has been scattered to the winds, either by trades, free agency, injuries, or under-performing. Their bullpen has long been a joke. No lead is safe when those guys take the mound. They have a few good hitters, notably Miguel Cabrera, but are below average defensively and have little team speed on the basepathes. Designated hitter Victor Martinez, he of the .240 batting average, recently hit a ground ball into right-center field. The opposing second baseman was able to range far to his backhand side, field it in the outfield, and throw out V-Mart at first base. That's not only slow, it's pitifully slow. Your average grandma can run faster than that -- pushing a grocery cart with a wobbly wheel.
It's pretty much a given the Tigers won't make the playoffs this year even as a wild card. They appear to be in a tail-spin with no help in sight.
So that begs the question: Just how low can they go? They've claimed the AL Central basement, but look at the standings elsewhere in the league. The injury ravaged last place Bosox in the East are now tied with Detroit. In the West, Seattle has caught them as well. Detroit area sports writers once referred to the Mariners as "lowly", but they're dead even with the Tigers in the W-L columns these days.
In the entire American League, only the Oakland A's have a worse record than the Tigers. They're 4 games back of the Detroiters. But hey, with over 30 games to go, the race for the ultimate bottom is still very much in reach for the Tigers. If the A's can play .500 ball for the next month, they could well pass the Tigers also.
And wouldn't that be something? After all the earlier hype and high expectations, the Tigers could easily be the dregs of the entire American League when the regular season is over. As bad as I am at making picks, even yours truly never would have guessed it possible.