Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tampa Bay Is A Shoe-In To Win The AL East

I have been told by those in the know that I have a knack for stating the obvious.

Here we roll into the final six games of the 2008 regular season, and it is obvious to me that the Tigers are not going to fulfill Sports Illustrated pre-season prediction and win not only the AL Central, or the American League, or the World Series.

In fact as I write this, Detroit is in game two of a three game series with Kansas City to stay out of the AL Central Basement. And it's not looking good, as game one was lost last night due to bullpen failure, and the Royals just struck early in the first two hitters to take a one – nothing lead in the first.

The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are still battling for the AL Central title . In fact, they are playing each other in the next to last series of the year with Chicago taking the first game and leading the Twins by two and a half games. Chicago will finish the year against the Indians of Cleveland, and the Twins against the same Royals my Tigers are facing right now. Only the winner will move on to the playoffs. And in my opinion it will be close but the Twins will take it in the final game of the year.

Write it down.

Because in the AL Central, you have to win the division.

Because the wild card in the American League sits in the East. And the war is on between Tampa Bay and Boston.

Boston is also two and half games back. But they are finishing the season against the Yankees. Against the Yankees in Fenway. And I do not give any edge to Boston in this year of a disgruntled Yankee club who is embarrassed not to be in the playoffs.

No, this year, the edge goes to Tampa Bay. The Devil Rays probably don't even need to make contingency plans. They pretty much have the final four games all wrapped up.

And it breaks my heart. Because the Devil Rays finish the season against my beloved Detroit Tigers. A team I love more than any other team I have ever rooted for – obsessively my friends and family will tell you – ever in my life.

The Devil Rays will face pitching that will struggle to put in six innings, but likely stay in for seven because there is no bullpen. They will face Tiger hitters that sound intimidating – but are meek in these final four games. They will face defense that looks great on paper, but on the field make stupid mistakes and errant throws.

Writing this piece, I feel like a father telling the bully not to be too worried fighting his son, "He may look big, and has a known name", advises the father, "but you should take him no problem."

It just breaks my heart.

1 comment:

Fred Brill said...

Well, it didn't quite play out like I predicted.

The Tigers so far as I write this have beaten Tampa Bay three straight - with the fourth to play out in a couple of hours at Comerica Park's last home game of the year.

But Tampa Bay still clinched as Boston has lost the same games to Cleveland.

So on Monday - The Tigers will head to Chicago now - to try to spoil Chicagos chance at the post season - and win it for the Twins.

Baseball is a great, funny, rewarding and frustrating game. And our boys will still have a lot to say about how the post season shapes up.

But it's still a pretty hollow and dissapointing finish to such a promising season.

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