The Tigers beat the odds

Las Vegas went out on a limb against the Tigers, the limb broke clean off, and now Las Vegas is walking around with its tail between its legs.

I would think that any non-Astro baseball fan would love that game last night.

Verlander pitches a complete game, only allows two hits, never pitches from the stretch (because there were no baserunners all game)…and still loses. This victory may have been our peak performance of the season; instead of being in the World Series, the Tigers beat a World Series contender. It was akin to last year’s Lions’ victory over the (eventual) NFL champion New England Patriots. Unexpected victories are often the most sweet. The Astros may end up winning it all, but last night, the Tigers put together the perfect equation of smart pitching, tremendous defensive plays, and just enough clutch hitting to win a memorable game.

Will these Tigers go down in history?

We began the year talking about how terrible the Baltimore Orioles would be this year. Unfortunately, somewhere in the middle of the year, the Tigers became the story. I’ve watched many a Tiger game this year (even went to one) and this team is full of intriguing, talented players. They’re fun to watch. The announcers hype them quite well and a decent number of fans show up for most games.

If you haven’t checked lately, though, they currently have the worst record in major league baseball. The Tigers are playing .306 ball as of this morning — that’s 37 wins and 84 losses.

Let’s be clear. I love the Tigers. I grew up watching them at Tiger Stadium, I’ve come to enjoy the atmosphere at Comerica Park, and I’m not planning on switching my allegiance. It’s difficult these days to talk/write frankly about politics, race, religion, and death (teaser…those are the topics of upcoming posts); baseball is usually the safe, go-to subject (like the weather), but it’s time to start considering where this Tiger team will show up on the list of worst MLB records. It’s a distinct possibility.

Here’s the list that teams don’t want to be on (from Wikipedia):

And here’s what it comes down to: 17 of the Tigers’ final 41 games are against teams that are currently in first place. We’ll be playing Houston (4 games), Minnesota (10), New York (3) in this final stretch. It will be tough for this Tiger squad to get many wins out of those games. I was wondering how that compared to Baltimore and Kansas City’s final stretch. As it turns out, Baltimore only plays three games against first place teams and Kansas City will play 10 games. The Tigers have the more difficult final stretch.

What’s a fan to do? Well, here’s my suggestion. Let’s root for them to get at least 10 more wins in the final 41 games. That way, they will be only in the ballpark of the 2018 Orioles at .290. I did the Math and if they only win five more games, they will be worse than the 2003 Tigers (see chart above) at .265. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we don’t have to worry about being on the top of that ‘worst’ list; we would have to only win one more game this entire season to top the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics for first place. I feel confident in this team to win at least a few more games, so we don’t have to worry about that.


GO TIGERS!!!!

Good Things Come in Threes

I get a lot of junk mail everyday. Both the snail mail and email variety. I don’t even see the really terrible stuff because the good people at gmail collect it all in my Spam folder so I don’t have to look at it. On the other hand, Garrison Keillor sends me mail electronically every day via The Writer’s Almanac and weekly via the column he writes on his website. Those personal messages from GK not only far outweigh all the crap I get, they also keep me turning on my computer every morning.

His recent column called “So that’s over, and what’s next?” is a fine blend of old man humor and spicy politics with a dash of musical fun. In the column, Garrison explains that he attended three amazing musical events in a week. He notes that “…all three had moments that threw me out of the plane and opened my parachute.”

After reading the column, I realized that I, also, had three parachute-opening experiences (though not musical) this past week. Here are my recent top three OMG, felt-like-I-was-flying moments:

#1 — The MSU Spartan men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA Sweet 16. I really hate to agree with Jay Bilas, but “the Spartans should not be this good.” We have had so many injuries to key players that we should just be mediocre this year. Once the team’s health started unraveling, so did my expectations. But we found a way to beat Michigan THREE times and win the Big Ten title and tournament. Starters and bench players alike have stepped up their game; who knows what tonight holds in the Sweet 16 game against LSU? It’s been an amazing run for a gritty team. I’d like to see Winston score and pass like crazy. McQuaid and Goins hit three-pointers with ease. Tillman block shots and disrupt passes. Nick Ward step back into his mid-season shooting proficiency. And Henry and Loyer could shine also. I’m just proud of their effort to get to this point. Go Green and White!

#2 — I read Michelle Obama’s memoir, finishing it this week. Reading her book, Becoming, it felt like she was sitting in the room talking with me. I enjoyed her direct, frank writing style. Michelle’s unique perspective on motherhood, friendships with Jesse Jackson’s family, Barack’s Presidency, the Secret Service, and service in general, were very engaging. She’s a classy, intelligent person. And her humor is refreshing, even encouraging, in the midst of her place in history. With every page, the book got better and better, bringing me to tears at times, laughing out loud others. Mostly, I was just sitting there listening intently, soaking up her story.

Though I felt like starting the book over again when I finished, I gave it to Judy to read. It is true that I’m writing a poem based on the book…partially so I can keep it on my mind.

Here are a couple quotes that stood out to me. “Time, as far as my father was concerned, was a gift you gave to people.” And later, when she was campaigning for Barack, the more she met with small groups the more she “learned it’s harder to hate up close” — though she did feel hated at times.

Her book is really a call for optimism in the midst of these crazy times.

#3 — I experienced Arizona in March. I realize that Arizona in March happens every year. It’s just that I’m usually in Michigan when it happens.

I soaked up every moment of sun, getting up at 6:30 and writing while sitting amidst their ‘chilly’ 48 degree morning — I saw a road runner dart across the road — And Judy saw a skittering salamander — We took several hikes (in shorts), appreciating the exercise as much as the remarkable views — We had time to talk with family and friends that we don’t see often — We enjoyed Gilbert’s diverse Farmer’s Market with fresh fruits and veggies — I checked out the A’s Spring Training camp last game (from the road)…they don’t seem ready to me — The Desert Botanical Garden was spectacular; then, at night they cranked it all up a notch with lights and music…with a bonus sunset in-between — Rob and I fit in 9+ holes of desert golf and I didn’t do half bad…

It’s all a blur now. Here are a few photos to help bring it into focus for you (more on my Facebook page).

The backdrop to these joys is that “a man is tweeting on his phone and primping his hairdo while at the wheel of our national government careening down the highway.” Garrison suggests that we “get off at the next exit.“ For me, reading 45’s tweets (and listening to him talk) is like opening my SPAM emails and trying to take it all seriously. And there are too many joys in life for that.