Tiger striped gut check

photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein

Todd Jones, in response to a question asking whether or not this was ‘gut check time’:

There’s no gut check on a team this good. We been gut checkin’ since spring training… we got no more guts to check.

Which is it, Todd? Is a team this good exempt from gut checking, or have you guys been checking guts all along? Make up your mind on your collective gut checkery!

You know how sometimes you write or say a word or phrase over and over and over again until the word or phrase ceases to hold any meaning? I just did that with the phrase ‘gut check,’ in my head.

A gut check doesn’t mean you physically overcome an obstacle, like your own injury or arm fatigue or the entirety of the Cleveland Racist Logos. It means, literally, that you had better examine (check) your innards (gut) and marshall your thoughts. It means that you struggle to overcome emotional and mental baggage. In that sense, this very much WAS a gut check game. Could the Tigers man (or cat) up after last night’s disappointing loss? Would it galvanize them, or allow them to slide into end of the season drainhole obscurity like warm butter from a plastic knife? I call that a gut check.

The end result was another loss. What does that mean for the gut check? Did the Tigers have a look at their guts and find them lacking? Justin Verlander, I think it fair to say, certainly did. Seven runs on six hits? Ouch. Ouchity ouch ouch. In the gut. Four home runs? Gut-rending.

Our playoff hopes are hanging on a very slender thread, especially with neither Cleveland nor New York showing any particular signs of slowing down. Is this It? The penultimate season crunch, the last of the sincere gut checks. I hope not, but now I’m expecting it.


15 responses to “Tiger striped gut check

  1. We still have playoff hopes? I gave up last night :\
    It was a nice run, boys. Alas.

  2. MY gut is sad.

  3. Oh, I dunno. I don’t think we’re technically, mathematically eliminated yet, are we? It’s not really over ’til that’s all settled. But yeah. Doesn’t feel good.
    Jules, your gut, my gut, Justin Verlander’s gut. But maybe not Jonesy’s gut, because it’s not clear whether or not he believes in the personal gut check.

  4. my GUT died last night. It’s truly sad. Not giving up, still loving the boys but… Ugh. Nothing but dead guts.

  5. Dearest Samela:
    Let me introduce you to the concept of “magic number”. It’s pretty easy, if you think about it. Let’s say the Red Sox start the season 81-0 (easy to imagine, I know). Let’s say the Devil Rays start the season 0-81 (easy to imagine, I know). That means the best the D-Rays could possibly hope for is to tie the Sox at the end of the year (wow, talk about impossible to imagine). Anyways, that’s why you use 163, not 162, in the following formula:
    163 minus (number of wins of team ahead in standings) minus (number of losses of team behind in standings).
    Of course, if you use 162, that just means that you’re giving the magic number to create a tie, but who wants that, really? Anyways, this makes for great fun when perusing any standings whatsoever. For instance, this morning, it’s Indians 89 wins, Tigers 69 losses, for a total (and the fun part is you can usually do this in your head pretty easily) of 158. Thus, magic number of 5. Yankees 87 wins, Tigers 69 losses, for a total of 156. Thus, magic number of 7. Any combination of 5 Indians wins and Tigers losses means we’re done mathematically for the division. Any combination of 7 Yankees wins and Tigers losses means we’re done mathematically for the wild card. In other words, with 11 games left on the schedule, the Indians could go 5-6, the Tigers could win every game we’ve got left, and there’s nothing we could do about it. The Yankees also have 11 games left, so they’d have to go 7-4, but come on, they finish the season with 3 in TB followed by 3 in Baltimore. And one left with Baltimore tonight, yet. Stick a fork in us. Nice run, yes, but it’s over for all practical purposes.
    Personally, I’m just glad to have back-to-back over-.500 seasons for the first time since I was in high school (and probably since before you were in kindergarten).

  6. I am well aware of the concept of ‘magic numbers,’ thanks. Just because I don’t usually choose to blog numbers doesn’t mean I am ignorant of them. However, I refuse to give up 100% on a baseball team unless they are 100% mathematically eliminated from the postseason. Is it extremely, extremely unlikely that the Tigers come back from this, or that the Yankees collapse? Yes. Was it extremely, extremely unlikely that the 2004 Red Sox survived? Yes. So it’s a matter of principle: I never say a team is done anymore until they’re totally done. I’ll complain about them and blog rambling depressed things, but you can’t get me to say they’re technically done until they are.

  7. Yeah, um… Sorry, didn’t mean to get all preachy there (happens when you’re firing off comments quickly while you’re supposed to be working). But, still… The fact that it’s so desperate… That the wide majority of fans (myself included) have written them off… But the die-hards stick with it and watch until the bitter end anyways, because ya-never-know… That’s why we watch, isn’t it? That emotional swing from “Oh, they’re done. God, they’re SO done” to the elation of achieving what was previously thought impossible. That’s why we watch. That’s why I won’t spend the next week and a half ignoring the Tigers (hell, I didn’t ignore them in 2003, when I would have been damn well right to have done exactly that), but you won’t get me to get my hopes up, either. The Yanks can’t go 7-4? And that’s only if we don’t lose any more from here on out? If we do, it drops the Yanks requirement to 6-5, 5-6, or even lower? Fuhgeddaboutit.

  8. Todd Jones sometimes speaks from his (gut) heart instead of his mind. He’s okay and he’s got 300 saves. After Verlanders exit last night, Justin looked completely puzzled while leaning on the rail while thinking about ‘what just happened’. “Who stole my guts”? All guts aside, it is still nice to playing for something in the middle of September and the Tigs did had a good season. Hold on, just a minute, the fat lady is knocking on the door. Boy just she have some guts!

  9. I wish I could edit my crap. I wanted to say, boy does she have a lot of guts!

  10. Yeah, when I saw Jonesy talking like that it reminded me of when he was crying when he was traded from the Tigers to the Twins for Redman back in the day.
    I know Jones must be really hurting inside right now along with so many of our cats. I’d still like to see a miracle, but I definitely saw in the players eyes the look of doom. I just hope we can pack up any Spazosaurii still grazing around Comerica Park after our last home stand and drop them off for the Yankees to start the postseason. Maybe throw Grilli in the crate with them to feed on until they get to NY.
    I’ll be rooting for NL teams this year… maybe the Dodgers since they have Wells on their squad and I’ll always remember how Sparky got him started here with the Tigers before his evil Yankee-dom.

  11. I never say a team is done anymore until they

  12. I was at the game on Tuesday, and it was about the most joyless experience at a game I’ve ever had. You had the feeling the 4-1 lead wasn’t safe, and when Pronk tied it, it was pretty much just sit back and listen to the “Detroit sucks” chants.
    Fun stuff, that. I told my wife that I kind of like the guys on the Indians, and I may even root for them against some of the other teams, but that’s only possible when I don’t have to be around Indians fans.
    She’s less forgiving. She says the rude Indian fans don’t get her support, and she hopes the Indians lose in the same fantastic fashion they always have in the past.

  13. I guess it is some consolation fans that Indians fans are the worst people on Earth.

  14. […] eulogies are up around the Tigers blogosphere. Bilfer. Samara. Ian (and so uniquely […]

  15. Jeff, right. ‘Course we also watch ’til the very end because we always know that the Dark Days, with no baseball whatsoever, are ahead, and we have to savor every last painful drop of the season…
    Paul, if I could direct the Spazzosauri to New York, believe me I say that I would do it a thousand times over. FEED, OUR ORANGE TORMENTORS, FEED!
    ivan, it probably can’t. But one never knows. Yankee collapses have happened before… *thinks wishfully*
    Matt, tiff, with some of the stuff I’ve heard from fans on both sides of the Red Sox/Yankees divide, it’s pretty hard for me to get all up in arms about Indians fans. That said, I hope their team gets destroyed and they cry bitter, bitters tears. Unless they’re playing the Yankees. Then I want them to win. Lesser of two evils and all that.

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