It’s obvious now that this can’t be a one-day intervention. Consider this week your Reaffirmation of Faith.
The Tigers invite the Mariners into The Den today. There will be no false guarantees of sweeps or wins or even sequential hits. Those are false attempts at bravado. That’s not how the Tilde works. Instead, we’ll spend the week looking at why we believe.
Today: the facts. (After all, they’re the least important part about faith. Let’s get them out of the way fast.)
First, Jason Grilli finds a shiv that has just the perfect weight to it as we continue to fight Oops I Crapped My Tigers pieces trickling down into the national media’s pant leg. Today’s turn comes from USA Today.
Tell us why the Tigers blow this year, Jason, and be careful not to mention your own name because you did so well in your nine-game stint this season:
“It seems like they kind of broke up our team chemistry when they got rid of Sean Casey and good people like that,” says Grilli, now with the Colorado Rockies. “You wanted guys like that around. You wanted a guy like Inge playing behind you, knowing he would go through a brick wall.
“Talent-wise on paper, that is one of the greatest teams assembled, but the atmosphere was stale and stagnant. You kept losing, losing and losing, and everybody became distant. I have good friends over there, and I feel badly for them.”
Yes, and Sean Casey has carried the Yankees to a 20-24 record this season. Well put, young man. Perhaps your father has an opinion on this that he could share with Mr. Sussman.
Now back to our regularly scheduled exploration of faith:
Sure, the Tigers are 17-27. However, Baseball Prospectus still projects a 33% chance of making the playoffs when you look at their PECOTA version of the playoff odds.
Why? PECOTA measures players’ projected abilities and doesn’t assume Mig Tilde will hit one-eighty-ass for the entire season. Doesn’t that seem reasonable? Does it seem likely every single player that blows chunks right now will continue to expel large pieces with force?
You don’t have to put an immense amount of faith in PECOTA’s exact numbers to believe that. Joel Zumaya will stay snugly inside his bubble wrap until midseason, Fernando Rodney will heal up nicely, and the massive suck will fall away from enough Tigers to pull them over .500.
Then you just have to think of a reason for the Indians to fall back to the pack a bit. It wouldn’t take much. Victor Martinez could join a monastery. Prince Fielder’s wife could convince C.C. Sabathia to join them in the soy-sapping goodness of vegetarianism. Rafael Betancourt will continue his downward slide. For Tilde’s sake, they have Joe Borowski as their closer.
For today, the faith we’re looking for doesn’t involve rock-solid certainty that the Tigers will win the division. Just take the time in the comments (or with your trusted spiritual adviser) to acknowledge that the Tigers have a reasonable path to victory still. It’s a small but important step. You can do it. “The Tigers still have a realistic chance at the 2008 AL Central crown.” Try it; you’ll like it.