Among the many advantages of getting older are the comparisons one can make to provide context to current events. This also counts as a disadvantage. Too much context can set a person (i.e., me) into a downward spiral into doom and superstition.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about the Tigers’ predicament – a mere one game behind the White Sox with 10 games to go – my immediate reflex is to size it up against 2006, 2007 and 2009. Problem is, it rarely applies. At least not neatly.
Of course I’m doing this to make myself feel better about things when every instinct tells me the Tigers will lose two of three to the Royals starting tonight and collapse entirely next weekend in Minneapolis. See? If I say that, then the reverse psychology plays into it. I’ve lowered my own expectations, and if this plays out as I predict I won’t be disappointed.
Who am I kidding? I’ll be in a state of despair.
But then again, the Tigers know what’s at stake. They have 10 games to show that the previous 152 were just them messing with us, their manager and everyone who predicted them to run away with the A.L. Central.
This is legitimate reasoning, right? Right?
Okay, let’s look back on 2009. After 152 games, the Tigers were 82-70 (two games better than today’s club). They played .500 ball over the last 10 games, lost a three-game lead and were forced to play Game 163. The Tigers’ opponents in those 10 games were not powerhouses:
- Indians: 61-90 – .404
- White Sox: 74-80 – .481
- Twins: 79-73 – .516
These were the clubs’ records when the Tigers entered series against them. Let’s look ahead to this week. Here are the records of the Tigers’ final 2012 opponents:
- Royals: 70-82 – .461
- Twins: 64-89 – .418
Clearly two winnable, borderline sweepable series. (Though sweeping a home doubleheader appears to be beyond the Tigers’ capabilities these days so, one win at a time, boys.)
Whatever happens in the next week and a half, the Tigers will be crafting a narrative that we will refer to again in the future, when another underachieving team is an eyelash from the playoffs and
falls short wins with a flourish.
Just like 1987.