Monday, August 21, 2006

EVERYBODY PANIC!!! - The panic checklist edition

What's that you hear in the distance? You do hear it, don't you? They were at first muffled, but now growing louder and stronger? Anguished cries? I think you know what it is, it's the anguished cries of, could it be, PANIC?

The Detroit Tigers have lost 9 of 12. Lost 3 of 4 to the Rangers, whose pitching staff scares, well, no one. The evil devil spawn that are the White Sox, now 5.5 back, are coming to town for a HUGE 4 game series. Those cries? The cries are even louder now...

It hasn't helped that the Tigers lost 3 games this weekend in ways that the Chicken Littles of the world see as conformation that the wheels have come flying off...

Friday: Down 1 in the 9th, Craig Monroe rips a lead off triple, with the meat of the order coming up. At the very least, it's going into extra innings, correct? 3 ground balls later, game over, Tigers lose.

Saturday: Nate Robertson, who is becoming more well known for his hard luck and lack of run support, rather than "Gum time," throws an absolute gem at the Rangers. Unfortunately, a home run, a fielding laspe by Omar Infante, and absolutely no offense, adds up to a frustrating 3-1 loss.

Sunday: 6-0 lead, the offense looks to have returned! With Jeremy Bonderman is on the mound, you have to be thinking, "Hells yeah, the game is a lock." Uh...No. Bonderman pitches like next coming of Jason Johnson, Magglio Ordonez shows off his alarming lack of speed in getting thrown out at the plate, the bats again go silent, and the Tigers lose with a whimper, 7-6.

Not a pretty weekend, to say the very least. Those were the kind of losses that might get you thinking...Thinking bad thoughts. "Everything is going wrong...It's time to...PANIC!"

So, since the natural urge is to PANIC, let's think about this rationally. We need to go over the Detroit Tiger PANIC checklist.

1. When the Tigers pitch well, no one hits, and vice versa. Just look at the lost weekend against Texas. Check.

2. A team wide batting slump. See #1, along with Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, Marcus Thames, to name just a few. Check.

3. A starter goes down with a long-term injury. Placido Polanco, you have been misssed. I doubt he blows the play Infante butchered on Saturday. Check.

4. The nearest competitor in the division is breathing down their necks. Can't check that off, a 5.5 game lead is still pretty substantial, and it's an even bigger lead if you talk about the wild card. We are still talking about a collaspe of historical porportions for the Tigers to not make the playoffs. We are far from comparing them to the '78 Red Sox, it's not even close to that point.

5. The manager is pulling a Grady Little and making all the wrong moves. I have no issues with the Marlboro Man, save for Justin Verlander's last start. If anything, you could argue that Jim leyland makes some of this checklist moot, as he's that good. Can't cross that off the list.

6. Your best and highest paid position players aren't playing their best. See #2, so we'll check that. Magglio Ordonez, we are looking at you...

7. The pitching has come back to earth. Some, which was to be expected, but not nearly enough to say it's a big issue. Rogers and Robertson have pitched well in their last starts, Bonderman's Texas game was just a hiccup, Verlander hasn't had his best stuff, but still has his velocity, Mike Maroth's most recent rehab appearance shows that he's ready, and the bullpen continues to be the best in all of baseball. Even Todd Jones has been lights out.

8. Management is sitting on their hands. Not true, can't check that off. We have the Andrew Miller signing, which is beginning to look like a stroke absolute genius, if you check out his first appearance in the minors. We are talking about what could be a big time bullpen addition for the stretch drive. And say what you will about the acquisition of Neifi Perez, he's a former Gold Glove winning middle infielder, who will be an obvious upgrade over Ramon Santiago as a backup.

9. The Tigers lead has shrunk by 5 ganes over the past 2 weeks. Sure, but isn't that why it was so great they had built up a cushion to begin with? The Tigers still hold their own destiny. The ChiSox and Twins are good teams, who were not about to allow the Tigers to run away with the divison. To expect the Tigers to keep a 1o game lead, and continue to play .700 ball, was rose colored thinking. You also have to consider that they still have to play the same teams as the Tigers, and win those games. Let alone play each other several times. It's not as if the 2 chasing teams are juggernauts, they have holes too, specifically with their pitching depth. You give me the Tigers staff at this point, and I'm feeling pretty confident. No check..

10. The Chisox sweep the upcoming 4 game series, and it's a whole new ballgame. Well...Duh. But...Even with a Sox sweep (God forbid), the Tigers still lead the Central. Get a split, just hold serve, and it's the staus quo, the ChiSox leave town a relatively substantial amount of games behind. Take 3 or even sweep the Sox, and everything I just wrote becomes moot. I refuse to write off the Tigers before the series even starts. It's silly to talk about hypotheticals in baseball. It's prime time fodder for the media hacks, but it's nothing more than that.. Not yet, anyway. No check mark.

The final PANIC rundown?

Time to Panic? - 4 checks. Remain calm? - 6 checks.

According to my far from scientific analyis, it's NOT time to PANIC. Should there be a sense of urgency? Sure. Cause for some concern? How could there not be? Are we witnessing a baseball apocalypse of unforseen porportions? Hardly.

In other words, count your blessings. We could be talking about the sinking ship that are the Boston Red Sox. Panic in Boston? My God, they are already planning the BoSox burial. In Boston, we're talking PANIC in bold large font!

We aren't talking about the BoSox, but the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are not dead and buried. The Tigers are alive, beathing, and still IN FIRST PLACE.


  1. Big Al = The Voice of Reason.

    Is it possible that the simplest explanation is that Akinori Otsuka just owns the Tigers?

    One thing that was interesting about Magglio getting thrown at the plate (he looked safe on replays, by the way) is that earlier in the inning, he showed surprising speed in tagging from first to second. (Or maybe he just caught the outfielder napping.)

  2. Ladies and gentlemen -- presenting the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, Justin Verlander.

    (And while I'd give the Cy to Johan Santana right now, that's still not out of the question either).

  3. Thanks for beating the Sox! Now, if the Tigers can sweep them, well, I'll be fans!