In April, before the Major League Baseball season started, a young, handsome, talented Press reporter wrote, “I don’t think Detroit is ready to win the World Series yet, but I think they will surprise some people and compete for the Central Crown. My fearless prediction was finishing 86-76 and falling out of the wild card race at the end of the year.”
I was alone in having this much faith in the Tigers. The Indians and Twins were the favored teams in the Central. But, fast forward 162 games and 6 grueling months and the Tigers had 86 wins and were playing the Minnesota Twins in a one game playoff to see who would face the New York Yankees in the playoffs. If only Nostradamus was watching. What are the odds of picking the exact win total during a 162 games season?
So, there I was watching that Tigers-Twins game, my palms sweating as the season came down to one closely contested extra-inning baseball game. It was the most I’ve ever hated to be right.
I had been aware of my prediction for a week or so before the season ended, but on that night all I wanted was a win. After leading the Central Division since May 10th, Tiger fans could not fathom defeat. After all, the team spent an off-day on Labor Day in Kansas City with a seven-game lead, larger than the leads the Angels, Phillies and Dodgers had in their respective divisions. If the Tigers blew it, there would be no other way to look at it than as a failure.
When the game ended, The Tigers became part of MLB history. Kind of like when they almost set the record for most losses in a season. Not the kind of history we wanted. This time, the Tigers became the only team to lose a three game lead with four games left. Only four teams in history have had a seven-game lead in September and lost their division or league. In the end, the Tigers went 11-15 down the stretch while the Twins went 19-8.
I still remember watching Rod Allen, Fox Detroit Sports announcer, put up a graphic stating that if the Tigers just play .500 baseball from here on out the Twins would have to go 19-4 just to tie. That’s when I got nervous. You could see the wheels start to wobble as the complacent Tigers got swept by the inept Royals. Then they had a chance to win it outright at home against the Twins. Nope. Then in the most important game of the year, we start double A pitcher Alfredo Figaro against the White Sox. If only we had more Justin Verlanders around. Curse you Jarrod Washburn, you are no Doyle Alexander!!
So there it was, defeat. I almost felt like I had wished it on them. If only I had been a more loyal fan and changed that one line about missing the playoffs, maybe Ryan Raburn wouldn’t have blown that fly ball. Or, maybe the ump wouldn’t have blown that call when Brandon Inge got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. They had replay for that and still got it wrong! Unbelievable. My prediction was simply too powerful. I had set them up for failure and they didn’t even know it. They had overcome all season long, but my prediction had become a powerful curse hanging over their unsuspecting heads. Otherwise, maybe Jarrod Washburn would have won a game and Brandon Inge would have batted over .200 for the second half on the season. It was clearly all my fault. I should have realized my power to predict the future sooner. After all, I’m 81-21 in football picks as a Press Soothsayer.
So, now I sit with all the Tigers’ players, thinking about what would have, could have and should have been during the longest five month off season of our careers. Next season I’m going to predict the Tigers to beat the Twins by 10 games, just so we have a little more cushion.
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