Monday, August 14, 2006

Time to panic in Motown?

This is what everyone has been waiting for and dreading at the same time.

Today, Detroiters alike will walk into work and have to face “that guy.” That guy who will look you straight in the eye at the water jug and say “I told you so,” only a day after the Tigers suffered their first sweep of the 2006 season to the Chicago White Sox in atypical fashion.

You’re blood pressure will rise, hands clenching with a force that would crush Ozzie Guillen’s glasses, and you’ll prepare to berate him.

Then, suddenly, you’re at a loss of words. Just like that.

He’s gone, sporting a smirk upon his exit, and all that’s left to absorb your anger is the water jug.


Now for the daunting task of explaining to the boss how you’ve engaged in a boxing match with the jug . . .

To think you’d ever be this angry over the Tigers.

But it’s no time to panic, right? The White Sox have only beat the Tigers 9 out of 12 games, roughed up their rookie ace three times, cast a spell over their defensive prowess, and are now within striking distance of first place.

First place?

Weren’t they wrote off when the Tigers won 2 of 3 in mid-July at Comerica Park, when the Tigers stretched their lead to a season-high 10 games, when the Minnesota Twins passed them in the standings?

If they weren’t, they were as close to it as the Tigers were to all but sewing the division up last weekend.

In Chicago, we saw a battered ace, squabbled grounders, bad throws, and an enraged superstar.

What we didn’t see was the Tigers of the previous 114 games, the Tigers that hit, pitched, and fielded well. The Tigers that knew they were going to win on their trip to the ballpark.

Ivan Rodriguez’ ejection in the eighth inning symbolized the whole series in one word: frustrating.

It was the last straw in a horrible weekend at U.S. Cellular Field.

The last straw for the Tigers, who believe they are better than the White Sox, who are sick of being overlooked, and who know they underachieved on a national stage.

Frustrating because they just can’t put it together against their experienced, World Series-tested nemesis, who play against the Tigers with the toying swagger of an older brother beating his younger brother.

It’s as if the White Sox looked at the Tigers before this series and said, “The one-handed dunk was nice, but watch this,” before reeling off a Vince Carter-like 360, leaving the Tigers to ponder what they can do next time to win.

The Tigers now travel to Boston and will try to put a halt to this 5 game losing streak, the season’s longest. History is suggesting this losing streak will continue, as the Tigers have fared 1-12 in Fenway Park the past 3 seasons.

But isn’t history what this team has been defying all season? From the amazing turnaround to the magical moments, something unusual is going on here. This team will weather the storm. Jim Leyland will make sure of that.

Leyland insists each series is equal in importance, but there has been a buzz surrounding every Tigers-White Sox series since June. The sweep was shell-shocking.

Now let’s see if the Tigers have panicked or not.

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