Tigers go back-to-back for first time since 1935

With big boppers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder under contract, the Tigers should be in contention in the AL Central for years to come.

Detroit is not a city accustomed to championship success. Well, we’re not Cleveland, but then again we’re not New York either.

So, when the Detroit baseball team advances to the post-season in consecutive seasons, it’s a big deal. How big? The last time it happened, FDR was President and Iran wasn’t even a country (they called it Persia). It was 1935 – when beer was first sold in cans and Parker Brothers released a new board game called Monopoly.

Mike Ilitch probably did pretty good at Monopoly – he at least did well in the real-life version of it – and now he has a little mini-dynasty. His Tigers have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, something no owner of the franchise has done since Frank Navin back in the dark days of the Great Depression. Over the last seven seasons, the Tigs have been to the playoffs three times, including two first round victories over the New York Yankees and a pennant in 2006.

Whether the Tigers can deliver an 11th American League Championship remains to be seen. Baseball now has a more complicated, drawn-out path to the Fall Classic, and the best team doesn’t always hoist the trophy. “Best team” isn’t something the Tigers have been described as since spring training anyway. The 2012 season has been a frustrating, two steps forward, three steps back ordeal, that at times has tested even the most ardent Bengal faithful.

But after their win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday evening, the Tigers have risen to the top of the admittedly mediocre group of teams that baseball calls the AL Central. It’s their fifth division crown, and their second AL Central title in a row. Since 2007, four teams have won the AL Central (Detroit and Minnesota twice, and Chicago and Cleveland once apiece). But after hurdling the White Sox to capture the title this season, the Tigers have established that they are the best team of the lot – the team to beat in flyover country in the AL.

The Tigers have the best pitcher and the best hitter in the division, hands down, and possibly in all of baseball. Justin Verlander followed up his MVP season of 2011 by winning 17 more games (despite receiving one run less per game support), leading the league in strikeouts, and finishing second in ERA. Miguel Cabrera is toying with the Triple Crown this season like a tabby with catnip. His 44th homer on Monday puts him alone at the top of all three categories.

Those two superstars give Detroit as good a chance as any team to survive the American Idol-like tournament that is MLB’s playoffs. Even if they don’t get the team’s first World Series title in 28 seasons (and the first for Ilitch), this group of Tigers have a nice chance to get back to the post-season again in 2013.

Three years straight? That hasn’t happened since 1909, when Tyrus Raymond Cobb was roaming the outfield in Detroit.

5 replies on “Tigers go back-to-back for first time since 1935

  • Mary

    I don’t understand the comparison regarding back to back championships. Back in 1935, in order to win a championship, the Tigers had to be the BEST in the American League, not the best In a weak Central division. Quite a difference! Not to take away from this years excitement, as we look forward to the playoffs!

  • Rick Roenicke

    The sad thing about making the playoffs win or lose is Leyland will probably be back. Get ready for another frustrating year next year! I’m sure Ryan Raburn will be back in the everyday line-up and who knows maybe Jimbo can get Inge back too! All the while I’m sure Nick Castellano’s will be getting MORE seasoning in the minor leagues. I don’t wish bad on the Tig’s but with Jim Genius running the show I don’t like thier chances. I heard he cried after clinching I did too becasue he’ll most likely be back. He should do the honorable thing and quit!

  • Gary Steinke

    Rick, I’d love to attend a Tiger game with you, we could both boo when the Meathead Manager we have make one of his classic meat head moves. Should we lose to Oakland it’ll be because of Papa Poo-poo and Jim Genius (how can you leave a reliever in after he gives up hits to the first 3 batters he faces. Leyland should’ve been fired right then). With Victor Martinez hopefully coming back next year the Tigers shouldn’t have a problem winning the Central, but then again, we’re talking about a Jim Leyland managed team. With the line up we had this year we should have had the Central clinched before the 159th game, considering the team that ended up in second place had a rookie manager who never managed pro ball before, the Tigers might have a harder time winning the Central next year.

  • Gary Steinke

    Dan, I think the A’s believe they can’t lose at home. I also think the Tigers play some of their best baseball when their backs are against the wall. After Sunday’s game I said there’s no way Detroit doesn’t win at least 1 in Oakland, so…Tigers take game 5. You with me Dan?

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