The Tigers have 87 wins. They have the third best record in the majors. They have a Cy Young caliber pitcher, a perfect closer, a fearsome 4-5-6 in the lineup, four batters batting above .300, two of whom are in the top five in the AL, three of the top 14 AL position players ranked by WAR, an all-star catcher ESPN.com said is the best of 2011, and a balanced team that just finished a 12-game winning streak.
They're pretty good, and this isn't a two-man team.
Ah, you might say, but they play in the American League Central. That's got to be considered, right?
Don't tell Tigers manager Jim Leyland that if you know what's good for you. A national writer,
as of yet unnamed Jorge Ortiz of USA Today, took that weak-$&!% question to Leyland before the Tigers opened their series in Oakland last night, and Leyland rejected the notion forthrightly.
You can pick your favorite source for the quote. Chris Iott of MLive, Tom Gage of the Detroit News and Drew Sharp of the Free Press captured much of it. Gage's is family friendly, but Iott counted 13 expletives by the time Leyland got to the end of a six-minute answer he said he wasn't going to give. For that reason, I'm quoting Iott's version.
This might be a good time to stop and recommend you play ad libs in our comments section. For the first part, we're going to need a noun, another noun, a verb ending in -ing (a gerund for you fancy types), an adjective and, finally, another noun.
"You're looking for something to take something away from them. I don't want to talk about that. That's (expletive). That's total (expletive). Let me remind you of something. It was three months ago, two months ago, that the (expletive) Cleveland Indians were the talk of baseball. Everybody was saying they were pretty (expletive) good. Now, all of a sudden, because we beat them they're (expletive)? That's not fair. That's unfair."
For a change of direction, here's how Sharp continues the quote. Let's get another gerund and three nouns.
"Everyone was saying (the White Sox) were (bleeping) good," Leyland said. "Now, all of a sudden, because we've beaten them they're horse (bleep). That's not fair. That's unfair. ... If you think the Central is horse(bleep), then write that it's horse(bleep). But I'm not falling for that (bleep)."
He may be a grumpy old man, but he's our grumpy old man. And he's right to defend his team. It's not their fault the rest of the division is under .500. Actually, wait. It is their fault the rest of the division stinks. They're 46-21 against the Central. The White Sox and Indians both have at least a .500 record when you take away their games against Detroit. The Tigers also have a winning record against the East, and they'll probably finish with a winning record against the West.
I'm not going to tell you the Central is as good as the East. It's not.
But coming into Leyland's office and trying to take away from what his team has accomplished so far this year is a total (noun) move.