Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Counting down the Tigers

When last we looked at the Detroit Tigers in the standings, they had played about 120 games. They were 4 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central Division (5 in the the loss column). Also, they were a couple games out of the 2nd and last wild card spot. Making up this ground with 40+ games to go was definitely a possibility.

Fast forward to the present. Not much has changed except 10 more games have gone by. Their odds have lengthened somewhat. As the games keep clicking off and the status quo is maintained, the odds get longer and longer.

With only 30 left in the regular season, making up 5 on the Indians is a tall order. Sure, the Tribe could slump. Any team can. But on paper, they're a superior club to Detroit.

The wild cards are just that -- almost a crap shoot. Detroit finds themselves looking up at the Bosox and neck and neck with the Orioles. Even a mini-slump or hot streak by any of these teams could well determine their fate as to in or out regarding the postseason.

Yet the Tigers have to still fend off other contenders that are nipping at their heels. Defending champs Kansas City went on a hot streak of late to close within striking range. Only a game back of the Motowners.

In the west, both Seattle and Houston are hardly out of wild card contention. Less than a handful of games separates them from Detroit. With a 9 game cushion, Texas seems safely in command of that division. They too are a cut above the competition.

But one never knows. A lot can happen in 30 games -- or nothing can change. If 10 more games go by with no movement......  And then 10 more......  Being just a couple games back with only 10 to go is not an enviable situation to be in. A team with a 2-3 game cushion at that time need only play .500 ball the last week and a half of the season. That forces their chasers to win 7, possibly 8 out of ten for a legitimate shot. Definitely a tall order with huge pressure.

This is likely not the scenario Tiger owner Mike Ilitch envisioned when he plopped down $200 million for player salaries. That's a lot of bucks for a team to not make the playoffs. No postseason means no extra cha-chings. True, with TV money, paraphernalia sales, and other revenue sources, it's almost impossible for the owner of a pro team to actually lose money.

But Ilitch doesn't need the dough. A billionaire whining about not getting even MORE return on his investment will hardly garner sympathy. He just wants to win a World Series before he leaves this world. Now 87 years old, his odds get a bit longer every day as well.

And the Tiger fans who follow and root for their team on TV (free) obviously aren't in it for the money. They want to see a winner as well. The Tigers haven't been champs since way back in 1984. Ronald Reagan was running for his second term as Prez. Cell phones, even cable TV didn't exist. How long ago has THAT been?

It's entirely possible this whole deal will go down to the last week of the regular season. Perhaps even the final game. If so, high drama indeed.

All the clubs get to expand their rosters in a couple days for the last month of the season. Having more bodies available certainly can't hurt. But everybody's in the same boat, so theoretically it's not an advantage for anybody.

It could also be argued that the extra 15 guys will be of little help. After all, if they weren't good enough to be on the Major League roster -- then how much can be expected of them? Especially during crunch time.

Thirty to go. We'll see.......

There's also that little matter of an election coming up in a little over two months. I don't know about you, but if you're anything like me, unlike the baseball season, you can't wait until all that nonsense is over.

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