Now I’m not going to compare it to the Bambino or the Billy Goat, but something weird is going on in Detroit; very weird.
Maybe in the wake of “Moneyball’s” release, the big spenders are doomed to struggle and be taken down by the teams with lower payrolls?
Whatever the reason, this has been without a doubt the strangest start to a season in my Tigers-viewing lifetime. Yes, that includes the famously bad 2003 squad that lost a whopping 119 games behind the power-bats of Shane Halter and Eric Munson. And it also includes the equally famous flop of the highly anticipated 2008 team.
Let’s just relive the past five months of Tigers baseball really quickly:
January 17th: Victor Martinez tears his ACL during offseason conditioning, projected to miss most – if not all – of the 2012 season.
January 24th: Tigers sign Prince Fielder to a 9-year $214 million contract.
April 8th: Tigers open up the season with a three-game sweep of the Red Sox, winning game three on a dramatic walk-off home-run by Alex Avila.
April 26th: After losing 3 out of 4 to the Rangers, Tigers get swept at home by the Mariners, dropping to 10-9 on the year despite a 5-1 start.
April 26th: Tigers cut IF Brandon Inge after his 12-year tenure on the team.
May 13th: Tigers lose 4 out of 7 on the road against Oakland and Seattle, with Brandon Inge propelling the Athletics offense.
And here we stand with the Tigers at 17-18 after dropping a game to the White Sox last night.
I think if the Tigers had started the year much like the 2008 team – who went 0-7 at the beginning of the year – or even like this year’s Angels, things wouldn’t feel so bizarre. The signing of Fielder felt like a monumental victory – especially after losing Victor – but it was still a victory in speculative terms. We Tigers fans believed that we had paired two of the most dangerous hitters in the game and were now sure-fire World Series contenders.
Then the opening series sweep of Boston seemed to be an affirmation that the stars had fallen into place. The previous whispers about a repeat of 2008 were thrown out of the window when Avila sent Mark Melancon’s fastball into the seats to close out opening weekend.
We quickly had our reality check: Verlander struggled to put away the Rays for the team’s first loss of the season, and the Tigers dropped 2 out of 3 to the White Sox. Okay, this isn’t an invincible team we’re watching here, but after a three-game sweep of the Royals, we’re sitting at 9-3 and feeling pretty good about it.
But then the bats simply went quiet.