Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The next 13 games won't break the Tigers' season, but it damn sure could make it

The Tigers run through the AL gauntlet begins tonight in Cleveland. 13 consecutive games against the Indians and Yankees could make, but not necessarily break, Detroit's 2007 season.

When it comes down to it, the Tigers could take a stranglehold upon the central division, if they win the next 4 series. But I honestly think that splitting, or even losing, those series won't break their season. Obviously, it won't make it any easier, but the season isn't over if Detroit ends up struggling against Cleveland and New York.

I'm not going to make predictions, claim their season is riding on the next 2 weeks, or say they have to win "X" amount of games. I'm not getting my Jockey's in a bunch if the Tigers end up losing more than they win, which is entirely possible, considering the competition. I plan to keep an even keel, and stay far away from the panic button. It's going under wraps.

No matter what happens against the Tribe and the Yanks, I'm only asking for one thing, and one thing only.

All I want for Christmas Labor Day is that the Tigers are still in the central division race on September 1st. That's it. That's all I want. Nothing more. Be it a game or 2 down, a game or 2 up, that's fine by me. I'm not greedy. Just be in the thick of the playoff hunt.

As long as they don't fall flat on their collective faces, go 2-11, or some such, and suddenly find themselves 4-5 games out come September, the Tigers should be OK. And in a pennant race, OK is good!

I'm targeting September 1 for a couple of reasons.

By that time, the Tigers should be as healthy as they are ever going to get this season, knock on wood. Joel Zumaya, Andrew Miller, and Kenny Rogers should all be back. Zumaya and Miller will be at full strength, and The Gambler is claiming that he'll pitch, elbow be damned. They'll also be able to bring up a few healthy reinforcements from the minors when the rosters expand.

There's also the fact that the Tigers' final 15 games are all against central division teams, including 6 with Minnesota, and 3 more with Cleveland. As important as the next 2 weeks are, it's in those final 15 games where the division title will be won or lost.

No matter what the results are over the next 13 games, the season isn't going to be over. In fact, you could realistically say the Tigers' season will just be starting. They play 5 months to just be in position to compete in the final month, and trust me, the Tigers will be in position to compete in September. Isn't that all we fans can really ask for, a team that's playing like Hell to make the postseason, rather than one playing out the string?

Instead of stressing yourself out over the next 2 weeks, you should appreciate the fact the the Tigers are playing meaningful games late in the season for the 2nd consecutive year, after 2 awful decades of suckage. It's better than the alternative, watching the stumblebums that play next door...

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