Damn MLB, Damn Tigers: A 2012 Tale of the Tribe
Spring Training is when hope springs eternal and everyone is a contender. OK, let’s cut the bullshit here. Most teams have no chance whatsoever. As the baseball season is 162 games, the cream always rises to the top. It’s not like the NFL, where you can catch a lucky break or two and you find yourselves stumbling into the playoffs. No way. Baseball is a grind where luck has no place to hide over the course of a never ending season. The good teams win and the bad teams lose. That means that if you live in a city where the ownership has decided to spend their way into contention, you have a chance.
Detroit has all but assured themselves of winning the Central as they have wildly outspent everyone else, and they have managed to do so while Chicago is beginning a total rebuilding project. That’s really good timing for them. The Indians are probably the second best team in the Central. But there is a heck of a gulf between one and two. In the best case scenario, the Tigers will only edge Cleveland by 15 games. That means the Indians should be out of it by just after the All Star break, and that’s only if they start strong. If they come out flat in April? Uh-oh. Look for empty seats and lots of discounted fast food promotions. “C’mon honey! It’s dollar Sloppy Joe day at the Indians game. It’ll be better than Corn Dog Night, I just know it!”
No matter what you hope will happen this season, the Tigers are going to win the Central. I know this like I know that the Browns will bungle the draft. It is a certainty like death, taxes, and LeBron James needing to be loved. The Indians have only one chance. They need Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera to car pool together in Spring Training and have those guys somehow manage to ram their car at high speed into Verlander’s car with everyone breaking their hips. You’ll need to see a press conference where those three get wheeled out Hannibal Lechter style and words like “total reconstruction” and “massive damage” are thrown around. It’s just the way it is. Baseball is unfair, just like life.
The inherent inequality of baseball is a real drag. For example, in the American League we know that the Yankees, Tigers, and Angels/Rangers are going to win playoff slots and it is February 21st. We can also be reasonably assured that the Red Sox, Rays, and Angels/Rangers will contend for the remaining playoff berths. That leaves Baltimore, Toronto, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Kansas City, Seattle and Oakland as the Washington Generals for the season. If you are a fan of these teams, you have the option of being a naïve optimist, or a pragmatist hoping for an unlikely combination of breakout years, lucky breaks, good health on your team, and horrible injuries to the contenders.
Here’s the worst part of this sad simple truth for Indians fans. They are in the official “two year window of contention”. The Indians decided to run the team like a business as opposed to a “team”. It’s about dollars and cents for them, and it’s not exclusively about winning. They’d like to win, sure, but only if they can stay in their budget. They are the woman in front of you at the grocery store with a bunch of coupons and off brand items in their cart. This type of business approach means they have decided to create an ebb and flow where they know they are going to totally blow for awhile followed by a year or two of having a chance to win something if the stars align and Allah smiles. This is allegedly one of those years.
Yes Indian fan, welcome to what is going to be referred to as your “good times”. You need to believe that guys like Lonnie Chisenhall, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis and Matt LaPorta are all going to come into their own while Hafner/Choo/Sizemore stay healthy and productive. Could that happen? Probably not, but you never know. Here’s the real problem though, unfortunately, the Indians “contention window” is also in the same window where the Tigers elderly owner is going all in to win a championship. This guy is moving ahead with the idea of “Fuck it. I’m eighty-two years old and I can’t take it with me. I want to ride in a championship parade this October. Let’s spend some money bitches!” That’s tough to compete with if you are Cleveland.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men… Enjoy your Two Year Window of Contention while the Tigers roll out Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Good times.
Read more insensitive stuff written by Greg Miller at http://nursethehate.blogspot.com/
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