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For The Tigers, It’s About The Stars (And Less About The Lineup)

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 1:  Infielder Ryan Raburn of the Detroit Tigers takes a throw as outfielder Desmond Jennings #8 of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base in the first inning July 1, 2012  at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Jennings later scored. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JULY 1: Infielder Ryan Raburn of the Detroit Tigers takes a throw as outfielder Desmond Jennings #8 of the Tampa Bay Rays steals second base in the first inning July 1, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. Jennings later scored. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Ericface Eric Thomas
Eric Thomas spent most of his career in Flint working as a rock r...
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By: Eric Thomas

I guess everything’s fine now. Tigers win two in a row and it seems like the wound healed. We return to our regularly scheduled program, writing the October plans in ink. We can rest in our beds prone, lifting and lowering a feather snoring. Nothing to worry about here. Jim Leyland can have the new desk and couch installed, new ashtray ordered, let the ink dry on that Royal Oak lease and pay for the parking space in advance.

That is until tomorrow, of course, if the Tigers lose or fall apart in a series against the Indians or A’s. Then Leyland should be carried out of town in a horse-drawn Tumbrel, making sure the bars are far enough apart to throw garbage through.

That pretty much sums up this season. In at least three Tiger related blogs, I had to look up how to spell “Dramamine,” the third time I decided to use its lesser known generic (Meclizine) as an”Easter egg” to make my analysis seem less repetitive. They stink, they pull it together, they fall apart, and they rise to the occasion. There are twenty four synonyms for ‘inconsistent’ (contradictory, irregular) and I venture to guess that I’ve used them all this season. In living rooms all over Michigan I imagine that many Tiger fans have had to use a myriad of multi-colored vocabulary, multi-syllabic conjugations of the same basic root words, usually depicted in print as a series of symbols (“$#!%,” “@{>%,” and always: “^@%#3&?>$&”).

I’ve watched every pitch, so I get it. I can sympathize. The assured win suddenly turns into the heartbreaking loss. Struggling pitchers look like the second coming of Satchel Paige, and a series of shaking heads festooned with Olde Englishe D’se “tip their cap” to a guy summoned from AAA ball mere hours ago. I’m exaggerating only slightly.

If there is any lesson that one could drag from the last two games it appears to be this: For all the screaming about the lineup, it doesn’t seem to matter in the end. If the big stars don’t perform, game over. Ryan Ra(y)burn, J(h)onny Peralta, Quent(i)n Berry, Brandon I(K)nge and Jim Leyland are nothing more than a figurant in the pass or fail destiny of the Tigers. In the series against the Angels, or in all the disappointing collapse games for that matter, the big bats were silent. If Miguel Cabrera or Prince Fielder go yard or if Austin Jackson gets it done the Tigers have a chance to win.

For all the vocal cords snapped, ink spilled, binary code written and dogs frightened by the cacophony of Gregorian choral braying about lineups, playing favorites, sending the runners and bunting, the bottom line for the Tigers is that if the stars are hitting the Tigers are winning. The production you get out of five thru nine is a bonus, just like it is for most teams in the majors.

Have they had a bad season? Through the prism of being the consensus unquestioned favorite to win the central since spring training, yes they have had a bad season. But to act like suggesting that it “could be worse” is tantamount to Hannibal marching elephants through snow of the Alps is not only engaging in, but living in, a state of hyperbole that isn’t healthy. Take a vitamin. Sit in massage chair.

The season isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. Until then I’m going to look up synonyms for “frustrated.”

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