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.