I took a quick, informal poll on Twitter to confirm what I already suspected: Some Tigers fans are getting a bit freaked out after losing 3 of the past 4 series against AL Central opponents. Detroit hosts Cleveland for a 3-game series beginning tonight, and if the Tigers don't take at least two games I shudder to think of the panic level the fans will reach.
I kid you not, two of the responses I received basically said the season was over if Detroit doesn't win two games.
Of course, you know if I'm writing this, it's because I don't agree with that idea. The breathless, sports-media driven commentary on the series has some fans waiting for the axe to fall. But I have three words:
IT'S AUGUST 19!!!!
After this series, the Tigers still have 36 games to go and the Indians still have 40. You think there isn't plenty of time for any trends to reverse directions?
The series is certainly a big one. Any time the Tigers play the Indians or White Sox, or the Indians and White Sox play each other, it's going to be a big series. But short of a sweep, all these series do is bring is a one-game change in the standings.
If Detroit takes the series, Cleveland's not going to go away. If Cleveland takes the series, Detroit's not going to go away. You think the Tigers or Indians will just pack up shop and go home because of the results this weekend? Seriously? Then you probably don't understand professional athletics very well. Nor do you understand baseball, a sport where millimeters on any given play could tip the scales to one team or the other.
What I think really happens in these cases is a bit of projection, to use the psychological term. Fans ascribe to the team how they would react in a situation. Just because you might crumble in the face of a challenge doesn't mean Justin Verlander and his teammates will.
Enjoy the series. Get indignant when necessary. Shout with joy when necessary. But don't think for an instant anyone's season is over come Sunday night. Whatever happens can be reversed by Wednesday.