This wasn’t supposed to happen. Game 162 in Detroit was set to be a celebration of the season as players rested up for the Yankees. In Minneapolis, game 162 meant the last baseball game in the Metrodome. Now, the Tigers look like a team concerned more about a team playing hundreds of miles away and the White Sox look like the team fighting for a playoff spot.
Following up from my posting a few days ago, here are five reasons any Tigers fan should be concerned about game no. 162:
1) The SI Cover - I believe that the Madden cover is a jinx. I believe Sparky accidentally stepped on the third base line during his last season to begin an era of futility. I also believe that when the Cubs get in the postseason, some fan, animal or weather system decides that they need to be the catalyst for breaking the hearts of Cubs fans. When SI decided to make Detroit into a team destined for the World Series, all fans should have burned every copy in sight.
2) John Danks - Danks has not given up more than 4 runs against any opponent on the road since mid-May. He’s statistically a better pitcher than Brian Duensing, Scott Baker and Freddy Garcia – all pitchers that the Tigers made look like Cy Young candidates recently. He also happens to be a big lefty hurler, a bad combination for Tigers hitters.
3) Ron Gardenhire - If my plane ever has trouble, I would likely want Gardenhire number 2 on my pilot list right behind Sully – the Hudson pilot. He has pushed every right button down the stretch this season, including starting Nick Blackburn on short rest in the last game. His teams fight for nine innings and potentially 163 games.
4) Gerald Laird - There was a stat recently put together on the most effective catchers in baseball and Laird came up as number two based on his ability to throw out runners. On Saturday night, six steals were racked up on Laird’s watch. When your .220 hitting catcher is not hitting or throwing out runners, that would make him ineffective. It would not surprise me to see the White Sox attempt to continue to rack up the steals on Laird.
5) The earlier game time – I’m actually mixed on whether this helps or hurts the Tigers on Sunday. In 2006, it was the Twins waiting around to see the Tigers result before partying. The first few innings of the game will clearly be playing in New York and Minnesota in advance of the Twins taking the field. For Tigers fans the hope is that the score will be in favor of Detroit and continue throughout the game.