In the jungle, the mighty jungle of Comerica Park, the Tigers sweep tonight.
Feels good, doesn’t it? No matter how completely predictable this outcome had been for days; no matter the never comfortable fact that we’d rather be rooting for our team than rooting against their team; no matter that the phrase “putting them out of their misery” has rarely rung truer in professional postseason sporting competition, it feels very good.
Of course it does. If you lived through the Octobers when the opposite of this happened with them, you never get tired of Elimination Day. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And really, this entire American League Championship Series turned what used to be a deep breath of baseball amnesty — time off for good behavior, essentially — into a veritable autumnal festival of Sheadenfreude. It’s as if some beer company marketed an Oktoberfest for gloating and it caught on.
The funny thing (funny ha-ha, funny peculiar; whichever) is if the Orioles had won the fifth game of the first round, everything would have worked out better for them. It would have been written off as a tough series informed by a teamwide slump, and their immortal shortstop — the last remaining barrier that kept them planted on the right side of dignity and a safe distance from demise — would be up on his two feet and preparing for another go-round next year. Instead, it was an utter implosion on every level, wherein their cast of megastars dimmed beyond recognition, their legendary home-field intimidation morphed into a Christian Science Reading Room (with plenty of good seats still available!) and the ability of their acolytes and apologists to say “well, at least we made the playoffs” nullified by their collective desire to forget these playoffs ever happened.
That they were beaten by a team playing markedly better seems beside the point. The 88-win Tigers didn’t necessarily blow them out until Game Four, but except for an instinctual hiccup of anxiety in the ninth inning of the opener, the tight scores never actually felt competitive. I’d dare say the 88-loss Mets could have pulled this thing out in six…and the Mets lost 88 games.
Enough about them. Let’s hear it for the 2012 A.L. Champion Detroit Tigers. Whatever our stray secondary allegiances, we’re all ungrateful slugs if we don’t each immediately and permanently confer Favorite American League Team status upon these modern-day Bengal Belters. They were responsible for executing Elimination Day in 2006 (though we might have been too giddily preoccupied to fully notice); they took care of business in 2011; and now this. All any Mets fan wants out of the junior circuit is someone to make October safe to traverse the sidewalks of New York. The Tigers have done their part for our Metropolitan sanity two falls in a row and three of past seven.
So somebody please cue up Martha & The Vandellas and let us dance in the streets in tribute to Miggy & The Verlanders. Mets fans! Tigers fans! Fans of bombast-free, entitlement-deprived baseball! It doesn’t matter what you wear, just as long as they’re not here.