Category Archives: postseason

And so.

The Joys and Perils of the Postseason


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

When your team reaches the postseason, it is a time of great excitement. Just making the postseason is not the big Win, of course, but it is the first step along the way, and it signifies a year in which at least some things got done properly. The players feel good and you get to watch them feeling good, usually with goggles and plastic sheeting and carbonated alcohol. Your artificially selected tribe has triumphed in some small way, and as your reward, you get to care about baseball for just a little bit longer.

And hey, we’re not just talking about the postseason here– the Tigers won the division! All the other players on all the other AL Central teams must spend the winter on call, catering to the needs and whims of various Tigers, whether that be snow shoveling duties (for that one insane Tiger who lives in the midwest year-round [we still have one of those, right?]) or babysitting duties or taking Astro for really long walks and scooping up all his leavings when David Price is just too dang tired and also it is rainy outside. That is why it is such a big deal, winning the division.

However.

Here is the problem: the Tigers, for much of this year, have just not been that good a baseball team. Obviously they have very good parts, and they have had very good stretches, and these things combined to get them into October employment. But anyone who has watched the team consistently this season has seen that their Dark Side is not so much a couplefew aberrations and bad luck moments, but is instead a constant shadowy companion, always almost perfectly in lockstep with the good bits of the team, ready to leap to the fore at the slightest stumble or hesitation.

And now that the Tigers are in the postseason, without the comforting buffer zone of large sample sizes, this is becoming incredibly obvious and visible to everyone— to casual fans, to normally oblivious national TV broadcasters, to that super annoying dude in your office who like really does not follow baseball but every year come October starts behaving as if he is practically a beat reporter who’s been watching games all year long and pronounces Nick Castellanos’ name some wild kind of inaccurate way.

There have been good things. Miguel Cabrera is Miguel Cabrera. Victor Martinez has been hot. JD Martinez has been the pleasantest surprise named JD this team has ever known. These cats are off and running. Certain other members of the team are having a, uh, let us say harder time keeping up.

And meanwhile, out in the bullpen…

That, quite plainly, is a problem.

Sunday the Tigers will either go on, or they will not. They will stand a chance of advancing to the next stage of ‘won some stuff that’s not the big Win but is still pretty nice’ victory, or they will not. The dual Martinez threat will lead the offense to spectacular victory, or Joba Chamberlain will lose a finger playing with explosives. Comedy or tragedy. Playoff baseball.

Go Tigers!

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turn out the lights

rally cat


photo by Samara Pearlstein

For Game 4, I declared that before every half inning when the Tigers were batting, I would kiss the cat. I did this very thing. The results speak for themselves.

This is Kaylee, internet, and you have her to thank.

This is Upsetting and I am Upset.


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Seriously! What else was Justin Verlander supposed to do? He was more than good, and he left the Tigers more than enough chances to swing themselves back into the game. I am not a happy cat right now.

Also, John Lackey, gross.

Games 1 and 2 of the Conflict ALCS


illustrations by Samara Pearlstein

Now that the Tigers have lost a game, we can safely bump Maneki-Paws from the top spot here. Not that we are giving up on the good luck power of Maneki-Paws, of course… we’re just acknowledging this momentary lapse in his ability to influence the world around him. I’m sure he will be back at full strength tomorrow night.

Game 2 can be safely summed up in the image above. Max Scherzer was pitching firmly on the side of the blue eye, the offense had for once managed to exert itself for more than the absolute minimum of runs, Torii Hunter laid himself all out on the line in a near-literal sense if you call the outfield fence ‘the line’… but it came down to Big Papi’s tendency to be, well, big, in the ‘coming up huge’ sense of the word. As a Bostonian I can assure you all that this is just what he does, especially in the postseason, and it’s nothing personal. Not that this makes last night’s game any better, but there you are.

Game 1 had a rather different outcome.

What happens when Anibal Sanchez and assorted relievers very nearly no-hit the Red Sox? ALCS victories happen, that’s what. That the Tigers should get such a pitching performance out of NotMax/NotJustin is inestimably valuable. Anibal did his bit and then some in the effort to move onto the next round, and in commemoration of his efforts I hereby present him with this Terrible Cartoon.

It has been, as is usual when the Tigers and Red Sox play each other, a brain ‘splodey experience for me. This time it’s ramped up to a particularly high and squealy pitch because of the playoff factor, and the fact that I conduct much of my daily life within technical walking distance of Fenway Park. I am honestly a little surprised that my Olde English D’d car has not been keyed yet, but maybe Boston has mellowed out. Certainly everyone was perfectly pleasant when the Tigers were in town during the regular season, even when I was wearing more Tigers gear in public than anyone other than an actual Detroit Tigers employee would ever reasonably need, and I haven’t gotten more than a side-eye for wearing a Tigers hat out and about this past weekend.

The tough thing is that, when they aren’t playing the Tigers, there has been precious little reason to dislike this 2013 version of the Red Sox. It’s hard to not be sort of fond of David Ortiz swearing in public, or Koji Uehara’s various weirdnesses; the beards, while objectively horrific, are actually pretty fun. So I do like these Sox. They aren’t quite as cranky and drunk as they have been in the past, they’ve provided the city of Boston with a highly entertaining season, and they have absolutely no sense of tonsorial propriety. I don’t especially like rooting against them.

But I do especially like rooting for the Tigers. That’s pretty unambiguous. And John Lackey’s starting Game 3, against Justin Verlander. Nobody likes John Lackey, and all right-thinking folk like Justin Verlander. Should make things easier.

Go Tigers.

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Come on, Tigers.