By: Eric Thomas
Those of us hoping to see Tiger nation rally around the AL Central Champs were living in a fantasy world. It didn’t take long. As I drove in I heard the first several people calling in, continuing to call for Leyland’s head after the team clinched its second straight division championship. I didn’t hear the entire call so I don’t know if he hung up or if, at the end of the call, he turned into a pillar of salt.
Another group of haters emerged and they cite other more fact-based arguments, like the AL Central is garbage. They’re right, the only two teams with a ghost of a chance this year, and they would not have won any of the other divisions in baseball. The Rays and the Angels are making fall plans even though both of them boast better records than the Tigers.
For the hate-Leyland people, can we call a truce? The baseball postseason isn’t like basketball. It doesn’t take three months. The story is winding to a close, and soon we can evaluate it. The team was disappointing at times, but that doesn’t matter anymore. The people who complain that they didn’t live up to preseason standards haven’t paid attention this year. The Marlins spent a lot of money, as did the Dodgers and the Angels. They aren’t going to the postseason. Baltimore and the A’s came completely out of nowhere. I would much rather sit with the Tigers, with a ton of preseason hype and a division crown.
There are also the fans of other teams that are whining because the Tigers have less wins than the Rays and Angels. Boo hoo. Find a corner to cry in. You whiny wild-card winners can dig a hole and crawl in, while you’re at it. The Tigers won the same garbage division last year and beat the stupid Yanks in the first round. How you do in the regular season is irrelevant once you get into the post season. The argument about division balance is a tertiary conversation. Get into the postseason, and that’s it.
The complaint stems from the lack of parity between the divisions. Again, this is true. Let’s also not forget it’s much harder to lure free agents to the middle of the country. Free agents always wind up going to the coasts, drawn to the allure of New York, Boston and Los Angeles. Of course the Central doesn’t have a ton of stars, because the major teams on the coasts usually poach talent from those teams. Fans of the Red Sox, Yankees and others have no problem with this paradigm so quit whining when your farm system gets to go the post season, too. The fans on either coast look at baseball playoff berths as birthrights. Sorry, you have to earn your spot. You knew the cover before you showed up to this bar.
This is a fitting whiny celebration to a whiny season. I pin the “whiny” label on literally everyone involved. The Tigers earned the criticism, they took too long figuring out problems at second base and they stuck with an outfield rotation that didn’t make sense. Now they have a chance to erase it, to shake the Etch-A-Sketch and make us all forget that this weirdness even happened. The Tigers have a small window to win a World Series and anything short would be a disappointment. I stand by statement that they have two years to get a ring, and if they get it early no one is going to complain.
As for fans of the teams that don’t play in the AL Central that are whining about the results, shut up.