Friday, October 27, 2006

Tigers Must Rely On The Age Old Cliche Of One At A Time

The Tigers, as much as they would like to, cannot win three games tonight in St. Louis. They cannot win two. They cannot hit five-run homeruns, nor make three outs with one pitch. They can't steal home from first base, and they can't strike people out by throwing anything less than three strikes.

It's human nature, of course, to want to do that in a baseball playoff series in which you trail, three games to one. But the reality is, the Tigers have to go back to that cliche of all cliches: take it one game at a time. Indeed, they must now take things one inning at a time, one at bat at a time, even one pitch at a time.

It's the only way.

The Cardinals dug deep into the bag of breaks that is available to postseason baseball teams last night in Game 4. It's hard to think of anything, frankly, that didn't go their way. So you'd like to think that the Tigers are due for some breaks of their own.

But again, forget about breaks. Just play the game. Focus on one pitch. Try to get good at-bats. Grind it out. Play nine innings and all that rot.

It's not an exciting, dazzling way to approach things, but what have the Tigers left at their disposal, really?

One thing they have going for them, and what the fans should have going for them, is this: Despite the fact that the Tigers were probably considered the favorites in this Series -- and in baseball that seems to matter very little nowadays -- they were hardly favorites when teams convened for spring training in February. In other words, this shouldn't be one of those Pistons or Red Wings catastrophes, when anything less than a championship is considered a colossal failure. That's not just written to be a salve if the Tigers lose, either. It's a fact. And one folks around here should embrace.

The players, too. Have fun. Play loose. Where is the pressure right now, do ya think? On the Tigers? Or on the Cardinals to close it out tonight? We've been there before, haven't we, in Detroit? Up big in a series, not wanting to give the other team any life, or any hope? You can't breathe until the clinching game is over with, can you?

Tonight, the Cardinals and their fans will brave it out, but they'll scramble for oxygen, especially if the Tigers can get off to a good start. They did it last night. They need to do it again.

No, the Tigers can't win three games tonight. They couldn't in Game 5 in 1968, either. Last night the ghost of Curt Flood grabbed Curtis Granderson and took him to the ground. How about tonight Justin Verlander channels Mickey Lolich?

I mean, fair is fair.

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