clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Confessions of a BYB writer: I was wrong to call the division in May

New, comments

I may have been wrong about the Tigers waltzing to their fourth straight Central crown, but don't blame me for what went wrong after 27-12.

Brian Blanco

It's OK, officers. I'm coming out with my hands up. You can holster your weapons. You got me, dead to rights.

I'll go downtown willingly; no need for the handcuffs. I did it, I tell you. I'm as guilty as the day is long. The night, too.

I'll never do it again, though. My lesson is learned. Spare me the cell; you can release me on my own recognizance.

I've decided to surrender, you see. The public outcry was too much. I thought it might blow over, but it only got worse as the season wore on.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that I was the mental midget who declared the AL Central race all but over — in May. I declared the Tigers the champs, I anointed them, and I all but started printing World Series tickets.

I had contacted the mayor's office and started planning the parade down Woodward. I made sure two dozen cases of Brut champagne were ready to be chilled. I called Home Depot to make sure they had plenty of plastic tarp available for the clubhouse.

The Tigers were playing damn near .700 ball when I took to my keyboard and banged out the coronation. I looked at the Royals, the Indians, the White Sox, and the Twins, and I scoffed. I started pulling the white sheet over their corpses.

In fairness to me, I pegged the latter three teams, but I missed on the other two the Royals and the Tigers as badly as a wild pitch.

I dogged the Royals for the tortoise-like start of their young stud hitters and wondered if Kansas City's baseball team would ever be good again, seeing as how they hadn't made the playoffs in 29 years.

Meanwhile, the Tigers were cruising along, winning at a brisk clip, wearing Zubaz and having a good old time.

I said that the division was beneath the Tigers, that they had much bigger fish to fry. It was World Series or bust.

No need to worry about the Central, I wrote. My skewed calculator had the Royals mathematically eliminated even though there were about 120 games to play.

I nailed the fate of the Indians, White Sox and Twins, but that hardly needed any special baseball acumen. I wasn't alone in dismissing those teams from serious division title contention, even in May.

Well, as the Tigers started to sink after their 27-12 start, you can bet I've been hearing it   from friends, colleagues and readers. On Twitter, I still get reminded about what I wrote by frustrated fans who shove the BYB link in tweets directed at me.

But I will say this: there are no such things as jinxes, which are more correctly known as coincidences. I don't believe in that rubbish, nor do I believe in curses. What a terrifying world this would be if it was as easy to place a curse on a city or a team as fans seem to think it is.

However, I do believe in being wrong, which I clearly was when I handed the Central to the Tigers back in May.

I wrote that piece, and how I wish I had done so in invisible ink. Ever since, my credibility has crumbled like blue cheese.

I could plead my case, but I doubt many would listen. I'm like a man trying to win a fight with his wife.

But here it goes anyway.

First, I thought Miguel Cabrera was healthy after off-season surgery. Justin Verlander, too.

I thought Joe Nathan was still good.

I thought Ian Kinsler was going to have a career year.

I thought the Tigers would hardly miss Jose Iglesias. Same with Andy Dirks, because I thought Rajai Davis wasn't so bad, after all.

I thought J.D. Martinez would never be Matt Tuiasosopo or Brennan Boesch, ever.

I thought Joba Chamberlain was totally over his 2013 season.

I thought Anibal Sanchez was the dark horse ace of the staff.

I thought Brad Ausmus was going to sail through his rookie year as a manager pretty much unscathed.

I thought Austin Jackson had found a home in the batting order, which was ABL (anywhere but leadoff).

I thought Austin Jackson had found a home, period.

I thought the Tigers wouldn't miss Doug Fister as much as the fans feared.

I thought the defense would be better. Same with the overall fundamentals.

I thought the Royals would be the Royals, when all was said and done.

Yet here we are, in late-August, and right now the Tigers would be thrilled to just qualify for the play-in game. The three-time defending Central champ's name appears in the wild card standings, which is like a Rockefeller standing in a bread line.

But don't blame this on me.

I'm guilty, but I'm guilty of gun jumping and nothing else.

How was I to know?

After the 27-12 start, the baseball gods haven't exactly been in the Tigers' corner. Every time an opposing outfielder dives for a ball, he catches it. Every enemy pitcher with a light resume, I believe, has thrown his best game of his career against the Tigers this year.

If you want to blame anything, blame those damned Zubaz pants.

Remember that cockamamie picture of a group of Tigers posing in those goofy pants after the sweep of the Red Sox in Boston?

Later that night, the Tigers team plane ran into trouble trying to get to Cleveland and immediately afterward, the 4-13 nosedive started.

I will take the rap for premature declaration, which I know sounds like a personal and intimate problem, but is really nothing more than counting my chickens before they hatched.

I had the Tigers cruising to the Central crown by 10-15 games. I admit it. I got a little crazy there.

But dammit, they should be waltzing right now. We should be talking about magic numbers, not tragic numbers.

Who knew that the Tigers would play so awful for such a long stretch? Who knew that Cabrera and Verlander's surgeries would catch up to them so soon?

Who knew that Nathan was finished?

But as I said, I learned my lesson.

Never call an election based on exit polls, and never call a division before Memorial Day.

I ask for probation.