Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tigers Proving Myself, & Other Doubters, Wrong

So Tigers fans, let's try this on for size: PUT IT ON THE BOOOOOAAAARRDD YYYEEESSSSS!! I know, I feel dirty and obnoxious saying it even if it is to poke fun at the arch rival White Sox. Either way, THEY GONE! Okay, okay, I'll stop. But it is hard not to gloat just a little after sweeping the Southsiders this weekend to take over sole possession of first place in the American League Central. After today's 6-4 victory, the Tigers sit 1.5 games ahead of the Sox, are maybe the hottest team in baseball having won 13 of their last 15, and above all, are really starting to play the brand of baseball we had all expected. Back in June when they had hit their low point and sat 6 games out, I had started to wonder if this team simply was not good. I was actually leaning toward that conclusion. Well, a month and a half later, the Tigers are proving myself, as well as other doubters, wrong. And I love it!

Let me just say this. In early June, nothing was going right. If you have not noticed yet, I tell it like it is. If a team is playing great, I will gladly gush and give them praise. If they vastly underachieve and play poorly for long stretches, I'm sorry, but I am going to call them out. I am not here to paint pictures of roses and pretty sunsets if the the truth is more like tumbleweeds caught in a Texas twister. The Tigers have one of the highest payrolls in baseball and thus they are expected to win. When they don't it is every fan's right to spew venom. Some choose to verbalize it, others do not. Different strokes for different folks.  The players knew they were playing terrible. They were not asking for warm hugs. I was not about to give them to them. This ain't little league. There are no participant trophies. Therefore, they should be judged based on how they play.  Someone who dares speak against them when they deserve it is not a bandwagon fan, they are a truly knowledgeable fan...not a homer. No fairy tales here kids. Only the truth. Whether it be good or bad. I stated I hoped they would prove me wrong and they are. So enough about venting, how about praising those Tigers, eh?

One big reason the team is winning in bunches is because they are hitting the way we expected them to.  Not only are Miguel Cabrera (congrats on HR #300) and Prince Fielder becoming one of the most deadly 3 & 4 combos in the land, but Jackson continues to rake, Delmon Young is heating up, Berry continues to impress, and Boesch is getting on one of those scorching hot streaks we have seen before.  Lately, it seems that balls are just flying out of the park and it is coming from all parts of the lineup.  They are looking like an offensive juggernaut.  And not only are they hitting the ball well, they are doing what they could not do in the first half of the year: drive in runners in scoring position and deliver clutch 2-out hits.  I had said it before, for the team to turn it around they would need players other than Jackson, Cabrera, and Prince to deliver.  That is exactly what is happening now and it is resulting in a consistent offense and more wins.

Also, the pitching and defense have gotten noticeably better.  Scherzer has been a strikeout machine, Fister looks to be getting back on track, and Verlander has been, well, Verlander.  Porcello has been frustrating but delivered a gem in Saturday's win vs. Chicago not to mention Turner got his first major league win today.  Before the series started, the pitching match ups looked to be heavily in the Sox favor.  Porcello and Turner stepped up, and that has to help their confidence as well as our confidence.   We also should not lose sight of the fact that the back end of the bullpen (Dotel, Benoit, and Valverde) has looked a lot better as well.  I do not dry heave quite as much when the Tigers have a small lead in the 8th inning.  I think we can all rule that a good thing.

The one thing that may be overlooked in all the hoopla is that this latest stretch clearly shows what Dave Dombrowski should focus on for the trade deadline.  Since June it appeared they needed needed a bat AND a starting pitcher.  Assuming the supporting cast continues to provide consistent offense, I think DD can focus solely on acquiring a starting pitcher.  To ask him to try to acquire both would be nearly impossible.  They don't have the pieces to do that.  They may not even have the pieces to get a quality starter.  But at least they can have a laser focus on trying to get one.  We know Verlander will continue to be stellar.  Fister seems to be back to normal.  I am not so sure I can completely trust Scherzer and especially not ready to put full trust in Porcello at this time.  I have more trust in Mad Max, but he still has the Jekyll and Hyde in him.  Porcello had been struggling up until Saturday's start.  For the Tigers to hold on and win the division, they will need at least 3 pitchers they can count on each and every start, and a 4th that will at least give them a chance.  I think adding a proven arm would allow there to be some room for error with Scherzer and Porcello.  If they continue to be inconsistent, it may become crucial.  Stay tuned.

All is well in Tigertown right now.  They are bashing the ball.  They are scoring runs in bunches.  They no longer are kicking the ball all over the field.  They are winning.  It should not be some accomplishment though.  It is what is expected with the talent this team possesses.  It appears they have hit their stride.  When many were down on them they brushed themselves off and righted the ship.  And now, we are all happy.  The doubters/realists are being proven wrong and no longer feel the need to voice their frustrations.  The homers can tout themselves as profits as their patience (blind faith) has paid off.  Now we can all sit back and hope they can keep it rolling and do what they are paid very handsomely to do...Win the division.  One thing is for certain, we have seen what they are capable of.  There should be no reason they should fall back to being a .500 baseball team.  Of course, I have been wrong before.  GO TIGERS!!


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  2. Thanks bud! Telling it how it is, good and bad, is the point of this blog.

    You may be right about trading. We may not have the pieces to get anything significant. Like you said, they really are playing like a team and seem to have a little of a chip on their shoulder. Love it! Swagger can go a long way!