Well, it's October, and my Tigers are back in Major League Baseball's post-season for the third consecutive year, and the fourth in eight (I'm tempted to say the fifth in eight, since we did have that Game 163 thing with the Twins in '09, which sure seemed like a post-season game to me, but the baseball purists are adamant that things don't work that way, and it doesn't count. So, PPPHHHLLLBBBTTT!!!!). Anyway, Woo-hoo! Honestly, the Tiges have never had such a sustained run of prosperity in my lifetime. They've typically had one monster year (say, 1968, or 1984), followed a couple years later by a lesser, 'aftershock'-type season (eg, 1972, 1987) where the old gang manages to wring out one last bit of glory before they all retire en masse (or, you know, sign with the Dodgers as free agents). But four post-seasons, and two World Series, in eight years? Be still, my heart! You'd have to go back to the Ty Cobb days of 1907-08-09 to find another Tiger team that played beyond the regular season for three years in a row (of course, in those days, all they had was the World Series, so that seems like a bigger deal than this, but I wasn't around in those days, so I wouldn't know) (hard as that may be for some of you to believe). Or the Hank Greenberg - Charley Gehringer days, when they made four World Series in twelve years between 1934-45.
Incidentally, the 1908 Tigers are the last team to lose a World Series to the Chicago Cubs (the Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance Cubs, among whose pitching staff were Three-Finger Brown and Orval Overall), and the '45 Tigers are the last team to play the Cubs in a World Series. Which, given the way Cubs fans go on and on about their team and post-season futility, seems like it must be a big deal, somehow or other.
This year's Tigers began the season with great expectations, and by-and-large, they met them, although it never seemed to be quite as straightforward as it was supposed to be. The team is headlined by the splendid Miguel Cabrera, last year's Triple Crown winner and American League Most Valuable Player, who was still in the hunt for a second consecutive Triple Crown (which, baseball types are well aware, is simply ridiculous) at the end of August, by which time nagging injuries wore him down, and he had to settle for just winning the American League batting and slugging titles (although a second consecutive MVP is very much a live possibility). Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez, along with Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson, made major offensive contributions (not that anyone was offended by their contributions; it's just that, you know, the batting and scoring-runs part of the game is called 'offense'. . . never mind). And mid-season, they picked up Jose Iglesias from Suldog's Red Sawx, to provide wizardly defense (because the guy who played the first two-thirds of the season at shortstop, Jhonny Peralta (yes, I know the 'h' and the 'o' are transposed; take it up with his mother), managed to get himself suspended for 50 games for using illegal Performance-Enhancing Drugs) (*sigh*)
The real strength of this Tigers team is its starting pitching. Justin Verlander is a former Cy Young award-winner, finished second in the voting last year, and he was no better than the third best of our five starting pitchers this season. Max Scherzer might well win this season's Cy Young award, and Anibal Sanchez led the American League in Earned Run Average. Doug Fister would be a solid #2 starter on most other teams, and Rick Porcello, still only 24, had the best of his five seasons in the big leagues so far.
All that being said, this is not a flawless baseball team. Our relief pitching was an area of concern all year, though it did get stronger toward the end of the season. And for all the big bats in our lineup, we were prone to maddening scoring droughts. I think that we led the majors in losses in which our starting pitchers gave up 1 run or less.
So, who knows what lies ahead? Another World Series would be wonderful, but I take nothing for granted. Just based on how the season has gone, I can see us winning it all, or I can see us getting swept out by the A's in the Division Series, possibly scoring less than a run a game. But one way or another, I am simply enjoying the ride, for the third year in a row. I'm not used to this. But I admit, I could get to like it. . .