It all comes down to this.
Throw all the stats out the window. Forget about the division lead that, just weeks ago, sat at seven games. Look past the fact that a team that has been in first place since May could not wrap up the pennant in October. Ignore the stat goonies who have repeatedly reminded everyone that this could be the most epic collapse in baseball history.
Now, it’s about one final game.
Should fans be worried? Absolutely. Should stomachs twist in knots as the plot takes roller coaster turns like the buildup of a mind-bending movie?
If you didn’t have that feeling, you wouldn’t have a pulse.
It’s playoff baseball now. After 162 games, nothing is settled. For the Tigers to go to the actual postseason, the team must win in the pre-postseason, a one-game playoff on the road against a team that went 11-7 against it in 2009.
This might be a disaster scenario in the minds of many. After all, this team was supposed to lock up the division days ago. But making the playoffs is not the end of the end of this team’s fantasy. It hopes to make a deep postseason run, just as it did in 2006.
That is why this may be a blessing in disguise for the olde English D.
If the Tigers hope to play baseball beyond next week, there’s a multiple of situations that the team must thrive in. For one, it must win a high-pressure game with the season on the line. For two, it must win a do-or-die on the road.
Both situations have merged to create the perfect storm underneath the fiberglass roof of the Metrodome.
Detroit has conquered that season-on-the-line dramatics. Sunday’s game was it. A loss knocks this team out; a win promises at least one more game. Despite stranding nine runners on base, the Tiger bats peppered five runs on the Chicago White Sox through six innings. Included were three home runs, treating a devoted Tiger fan base to a free Arby’s sandwich for one last time this season.
The Tigers might lose on Tuesday. That is fair. If Detroit can’t win that game, there would be no point in this team wasting time and energy in the playoffs. The Yankees would would have its way with this team.
But if the Tigers win, they’ll carry all the momentum in the world to Yankee Stadium. Beating a rival on the road in what would be the final contest ever in a 27-year-old stadium is impressive.
Doing it in a one game playoff would just be the cherry on top.
This is playoff baseball, Tiger fans. This is why you watch. If it was easy and drama free, no one would care. But this is why we watch. This is why we shell out our hard earned dollars for tickets, parking and beer. This is why we buy overpriced, screen printed T-shirts. This is why our work, school and social lives often suffer for 25 strangers.
This is as good as it gets.