Baseball is a game of failure as every knowledgeable fan is painfully aware. For a Detroit Tigers fan this year has often been more painful than other seasons when the team actually performed far worse. Simply because of raised expectations we agonize over defeats more than we ever did in, say, the dismal 2003 season.
It's always dangerous to declare a game or series as crucial, but it is fair to say this, the series that begins today with the White Sox will tell us much about the rest of the year. Get swept and it's time to play out the string, make roster moves, and think about next spring. Sweep the Sox and the Tigers still have a slender hope with, finally, a favorable schedule ahead. Any result in between those two and the thread they cling to is very thin. They dug this hole in April and May. A hole so deep that a nice June and a .500 July have left them still struggling in third.
One bright spot has been the recent play of Miguel Cabrera. Word comes today that he is the AL Player-of-the-Month for July with a .330/8/31 line. Miggy has twice been named AL player of the week this season too as he gets adjusted to AL pitching. He just turned 25 in April and his career numbers are already amazing: BA .311/ HR's 158/ RBI 605/ and a .384 OBP. Baseball reference compares his numbers through the age of 24 and finds that, among the Top 10 players he is most similar to in hitting, are the names Aaron, Frank Robinson, Kaline, and Mantle. It should be great fun watching Miguel Cabrera in a Detroit uniform. But he'd look better with pennants flying over his head and World Champion rings on his fingers.