The Tigers have played half their games and find themselves in second place. This is clearly not acceptable. But it is time for some perspective.
Last year the Tigers had 39 wins and 42 losses after 81 games. They were four and a half games out of first place. They had put us through four streaks of at least three losses. But they were poised to make the World Series.
The Yankees have lost Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and Kevin Youkilis to injuries. Their replacements, including Brennan Boesch, have performed surprisingly well. And yet the Yankees find themselves in fourth place, six games out of first, and have allowed more runs than they have scored. Cot's Baseball Contracts lists their payroll as $228 million for 2013. For reference, the Tigers' payroll is $149 million.
The Angels doubled down on their free agent signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson by signing Josh Hamilton, a total commitment of $442 million. They are four games under .500 and nine games out of first place. Unless they resurrect the rally monkey, Mike Scioscia's long tenure as manager may be coming to an end.
The Dodgers' new owners emptied their wallets to acquire Hanley Ramirez, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, and Josh Beckett. What does a $217 million payroll buy? Last place, and only the Marlins have scored fewer runs.
The Nationals shelved Stephen Strasburg for the postseason last year, expecting to use him in many future playoffs. The future may not arrive, as they are six games out of first and allowing more runs than they have scored.
The Blue Jays acquired Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle. Their payroll is a meager $120 million. So I was happy for Toronto yesterday. They celebrated Canada Day with a big win to start the second half of their season, after finishing the first half under .500 and in last place.
The most significant criticism of the Tigers yesterday was that they were boring. Baseball is entertainment. It should be fun. Miguel Cabrera hitting a home run into a tank full of stingrays is fun. Prince Fielder hitting a ball off a catwalk and musing how far it would have gone in another park is fun. Watching Rajai Davis steal third on the catcher's toss back to the pitcher, like in Little League, is not fun.
In 2012 the Tigers started the second half with a streak of six wins, and 13 out of 15, to retake first place. It is time for a similar run this year. But another couple of losses and I may go off like a 4th of July fireworks display.