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Blake’s Tyger
I love Blake, but had he seen a tyger?
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Know Your Enemy: Detroit Tigers

Rumbling up 94, with some momentum

The White Sox have won three series in a row, and are creeping back toward playing respectable baseball. They’re on the verge of leaping the Guardians, and head to the Motor City with a chance to jump ahead of the second-place Tigers. That this is all happening in the context of the AL Central makes things less exciting, of course, but should it? Why pull back to the scope of the universe to see how small is our planet?

So, looking at this series with the sure and certain knowledge that “a team from this division will, by law, be mandated to the playoffs,” then this is a sort-of important four-game set. If the Sox take three of four, they can start to climb over the scraps of the league. A split or a lost series pushes us back to where we were. It’s … exciting? Yeah, exciting.

The Sox are 1,101-1,119 all-time against the Tigers.

So How Are They Doing, Anyway?

The second-place Tigers are the surprise darlings of baseball! Well, except for the Pirates. And the Orioles, for sure. And the Rangers, what’s up with them? You could say the D-Backs are a big surprise. So, lots of darlings before we get to the Tigers.

Detroit is playing better than expected, but are still worse than .500 in this terrible division, and show a lot of signs of slipping. They are, as of this writing, the lowest-scoring team in baseball, a few runs behind Cleveland. They have the third-worst on-base percentage and second-worst slugging. They can’t hit, not a lick.

But! They are still making History.

Miggy sets hits record against Kansas City
For when your grandkids ask you about this.

Are The Hitters Fearsome? Need I Worry About Dingers?

No, they are not fearsome. They can’t score, like, at all. Riley Greene has a WAR of 1.1, which leads the team. Nick Maton and Jake Rogers are tied for the team lead in dingers at five each. Austin Meadows is out to take care of his mental health, and good for him. Javy Báez isn’t leading the team in strikeouts or anything, which is always surprising to see, but he’s still got an on-base percentage of less than .300.

Of course, there is Miguel Cabrera, one of the great hitters of all-time, whose prolonged decline phase has been matched only by The Simpsons. Dude killed us for so many years, I should be happy seeing this, but it’s a real bummer. I barely remember the last time he was good.

And the Pitching Matchups? What of Them?

The Sox pitchers have been real good as of late. Against this terrible Tigers offense, they should be able to feast. I am confident that I will not regret this statement. No comeuppance!

No comeuppance!
I have no idea what episode this is from.

Thursday, May 25
Sox: Lucas Giolito (3-3, 3.62) looks like a guy who is angling for another “but he never stopped believing in himself” commercial we’ll see until we want to die. He’s allowed eight earnies over his last four starts.

Tigers: Alex Fadeo (0-2, 4.60) looks like classic Alex Fadeo. Getting out there on the mound, throwing pitches, losing games, that sort of thing. In his three starts this year, he’s only walked one guy, and has a 0.83 WHIP, so some of the externals are actually strong.

Friday, May 26
Sox: Lance Lynn (3-5, 6.28) has cut down on his walks and gotten six solid innings in three out of his last four starts. This is good, or at least it is not bad.

Tigers: Joey Wentz (1-4, 7.45) is another Tigers pitcher, each one more well known to me than the last! He’s primarily a 4-seam fastball pitcher with decent control and a 2.88 K/BB. But like, not that good.

Saturday, May 27
Sox: TBD as of this writing. Maybe an opener, a Jimmy Lambert situation. I’ll update this when the situation resolves itself. Wait, no I will not. The White Sox and their embarrassing lack of starter depth is both preventable and perpetual under Rick Hahn. No edits, full stop.

Tigers: Michael Lorenzen (2-2, 4.08) has been a perfectly serviceable reliever/starter for the Reds, Angels, and Tigers. It might seem an unremarkable career, but what life isn’t its own saga? His fastball peaks at about 97 mph.

Sunday, May 27
Sox: Dylan Cease (3-3. 4.60) seems to be past the troubles of April and early May. His last three starts have been solid, including looking dynamic against Houston. He still throws a lot of pitches, but they aren’t getting hit as much.

Tigers: Eduardo Rodriguez (4-4, 2.19) has been on a hot streak and has been Detroit’s best pitcher, striking out 52 over his last six starts. Hot damn!

Why Do We Hate Detroit?

In another job, I had the opportunity to sit down and interview the Motown songwriting team Holland/Dozier/Holland, two brothers and a lifelong collaborator. It was amazing. Think about it: These guys basically created the Motown sound — they wrote for Aretha, Marvin, the Four Tops, the Supremes, all of them. It was the sound of America, created, like so much else, in Detroit.

Detroit is amazing. Fans of Detroit? Not so much.

You know who I’m talking about. People who drive into Detroit to watch a game and never get more than a half-mile off the freeway. They spend all their free time bitching online about their tax dollars going to take care of “that city” and make endless barely-veiled comments about who it is helping. They tell harrowing stories about the time they couldn’t find their spot and saw someone walking by on the sidewalk who “was probably all cracked up on drugs!” They’d vote in a second to turn every Detroit museum into a prison.

They want to claim Detroit cool. They want to claim toughness and grit, have some of the Motown magic on them, but haven’t ventured past the sports drag in decades. They say they are all about the Motor City, but only as it suits them. They use “Detroit” as a talisman of self-worth but as an epithet to each other.

You’re not from Detroit. You’re from Downriver. You’re from Farmington. You’re from Oakland Hills. You’re from fucking Troy. The only Motown sound that fits you is your engine, receding back to Birmingham to relegate at your Weekly Foreclosures Gala your little Heart of Darkness cosplay.

You don’t deserve Detroit cool. You don’t deserve Motown. You don’t even deserve the Lions, and that’s saying something.

Why Do We Hate the Tigers?

I personally have hated the Tigers since 1990, when Cecil Fielder hit 50 home runs (objectively cool) but seemed to personally keep a finally-good Sox team out of the playoffs. Looking back at it, we were 5-7 against them that year, and finished nine games back of the A’s, so my boyish ire wasn’t fully accurate. But still.

That’s the thing with division rivals. There have been very few times when both the Sox and the Tigers have been good. The 2006 season is the only time I can remember when we were battling for the division (which they won, of course, and had their little title-less run). In 2012, Detroit took us out again and things might have been even more heartbreaking, with the surprise Robin Ventura White Sox shadow-balling their way to a division lead for nearly every week of the season but that final one that allows admission into October. But bad teams hate each other a little more than actual rivals. We get in each other’s way and play spoiler and wear the crown of Most Pitiful, which is no ring, but at least is something.

We hate the Tigers not because of injury but proximity. We always see them. We always have to deal with their whole thing. It’s like a relative who you feud with and when someone asks you why you just kind of gesture to their whole despicable deal as it dawns on you that they feel the same way. And that, at the end of the day, they are just as correct as you.

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