Recalling what I said in my previous post about frequency of posting during the baseball post-season month of October. . . Yeah, well, so much for that. My Tigers were unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs yesterday evening. It's not like I didn't see it coming, or anything, but, you know, we hoped for better. . .
Our three-game whirlwind tour (and I use the term 'whirlwind' both in the sense of 'brief and frenetic', and also 'getting slammed by a tornado') of the baseball post-season was really something of a microcosm of the entire season - the bullpen imploding, wasting creditable, if not spectacular starting pitching, and then the bats inexplicably disappearing when we did get solid pitching. I mean, 12 FREAKIN' RUNS OVER CONSECUTIVE 8TH INNINGS? Twelve!?! Seriously?!? But such was the quality of our bullpen this year; no lead was ever safe. I'd be listening to a game on the radio, and the starter would be through seven innings with 110 or so pitches, and a nine-run lead, and I'd be anxiously wringing my hands, wondering if a nine-run lead could hold up through two innings of relief pitching. (I don't recall if the bullpen ever actually blew a nine-run lead or not, but it had some atrocious meltdowns. I know we lost more than one lead of three runs or more in the 9th inning)
And, for all the all-star caliber hitters the Tigers have, they were prone to mystifying offensive droughts, making guys with career ERAs of 5.86 look like Sandy Freakin' Koufax. On paper, before the season, it looked like we should win our division by at least 10 games. Our starting rotation included two of the past three Cy Young Award winners (and we picked up the third one at the trade deadline), and Miguel Cabrera was the two-time defending Most Valuable Player. We even unloaded Prince Fielder's horrible contract and even more horrible defense; things were looking good. We had some injury problems, but nothing terribly our of the ordinary (although both Cabrera and Justin Verlander were coming off off-season surgeries, and both of them were mystifyingly un-dominant for long stretches of the season). We ended up squeaking out the division championship by one game, after looking up at the Kansas City Royals for a lot of the summer. It was a frustrating season, but it seemed like were starting to get our stuff together just in time for the playoffs. I guess not, huh?
But hey, the Los Angeles Angels, who by most all accounts were the best team in the American League, got similarly broomed out of the playoffs by the aforementioned Royals, and the Washington Nationals, who were likewise counted the best team in the National League, are on life support, having lost their first two games at home, and heading to San Francisco with no more losses 'to give'. Which goes to show, I suppose, that once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. . .
The coming off-season promises to be tumultuous for my Tigers, in all sorts of ways. Max Scherzer, our best pitcher the past two seasons, is a free agent, and I can't imagine that the Tigers will be able to match the money that teams like the Yankees will be prepared to throw at him. Victor Martinez, who was our best hitter this year, is also a free agent, and it is not a given that we will be able to re-sign him, either. Torii Hunter has given the Tigers a couple of solid seasons, even at 39 years of age, and he's a free agent, too. We will see what we will see, of course (we always do), but there is a large sense that the Tigers' window of opportunity to win a World Series is about to slam shut. It's been a nice run for the past 5-6 seasons, but they haven't yet won it all, and it seems about to become less likely, not more.
The Lions also lost ignominiously yesterday afternoon, making it a dismally lost weekend for Detroit professional sports teams. . .
But at least, on a somewhat happier note, my Spartans won their game Saturday night. Not, however, before they gave up most of a 24-point, end-of-the-3rd-quarter lead, having to intercept a pass on the 10-yard-line with 30 seconds left in order to hang on for a 5-point win. In the last four minutes of the game, they gave up a touchdown on a punt return, and bounced a short filed goal off the upright. I was seriously hyperventilating at that point. Credit to Nebraska, our opponent, for not getting the memo that the game was over at the end of the 3rd quarter. The mismatch in intensity between the two teams in the 4th quarter was glaring. My Spartans will have to play hard for all four quarters, if they hope to contend for the kind of honors they aspire to.
At any rate, given the end of the Tigers' season, things might be a tad less sports-oriented around these parts than I'd hoped (or some of my readers might have feared) this month. So, who knows what stuff I might be posting about? With a sideways tip of the hat to my friend Suldog, I can't promise that my next post will be soon, and I sure can't promise that it'll be better. But, you know, eventually, with more stuff, of one sort or another. . .