September 27th, 2014

always a tiger

neither funny ha-ha nor funny weird

baseball is funny in the same way life is (which feels like stating the obvious).
but baseball is also funny within my life the same way life is funny within my life (which feels less clear).

here's a thing:

it was not always this way, but there are presently three divisions of five teams in each league, called the east, central, and west, in both leagues, and the teams in each division are in roughly the same geographic area. (if you're unfamiliar, the two leagues are the american and the national, and they play by slightly different rules, and the tigers are in the american league.)

now if one examines the central division in each league, one begins to see that certain teams are linked:

the chicago cubs (nl) and the chicago white sox (al) reside in the same city.
the st. louis cardinals (nl) and the kansas city royals (al) reside in the same state, about four hours apart.
the cincinnati reds (nl) and the cleveland indians (al) reside in the same state, about four hours apart.
the milwaukee brewers (nl) and the minnesota twins (al) reside in neighboring states and are northwest of chicago and are about five hours apart.

which leaves only the pittsburgh pirates (nl) and the detroit tigers (al).
and despite the fact that pennsylvania has two teams, pittsburgh is not in a mirrored division with philadelphia. west pennsylvania could be its own state, really, just like upstate new york could be.

and though one could make the argument that cleveland and pittsburgh should be linked because of the geographical proximity, one would be wise not to make it in the presence of a pittsburgh native. you can't spell umbrage without rage.

and i've spoken before about the many ties between the pirates and the tigers (the looming large example of leyland, the manager who led both teams to multiple division championships).

so in many ways the pirates and tigers' seasons of late have been very similar, but not mirror images, as the resurgence of the pirates did not lead to a playoff appearance until last season, and has yet to lead to a division championship.

so now, this year, we find ourselves flip-flopped in our roles in an identical situation.

the tigers lead their rivals the royals by a single game, and each team has two games to play.
the pirates trail their rivals the cardinals by a single game, and each team has two games to play.
both the tigers and the cardinals play against a team that is last in its division.
both the pirates and the royals play against a team that is second to last in its division.

and despite the fact that i don't feel like the tigers are worse than st. louis, the tigers teeter on a tenuous tightrope, while the cardinals chart their course with customary confidence.

in about twenty-seven hours the end of this part of the story will be clear. and the next chapter will begin.