If April is any indication, 2006 figures to be a happier baseball season at Mount Virtus than in the dismal climes of the Northern Alliance or the deluded braggadocio of Hugh Hewitt. Here are the American League Central standings as the regular season’s first month has come to a close:
Chi White Sox 17-7 (-)
Detroit 16-9 (1.5 GB)
Cleveland 13-12 (4.5 GB)
Minnesota 9-15 (8.0 GB)
Kansas City 5-17 (11.0 GB)
Prognosticators and pundits may start to get a little uneasy, though a lot of baseball remains to be played. My Detroit Tigers, however, have given every evidence of finally turning it around this season with new manager Jim Leyland at the helm. After their best April since the historic 1984 championship season, the team continues to excel on the field and act as if it’s business as usual. Great starting pitching, a reliable bullpen, power at the key spots in the lineup, clutch hitting throughout the order, solid defense, and contributions from the bench. Remarkably, Detroit is 11-4 on the road and 5-5 at home.
It’s way too early to gloat, but it sure is nice to see Cleveland three games back in the standings. Yet it’s much harder to contain the emotion after the Tigers turned the tables this past weekend on their Minnesota rivals – typically a big roadblock for Detroit baseball – in impressive fashion. The three-game sweep saw the Tigs outscore the Twins by a total of 33-1, including a Comerica Park-record-setting 18-1 Saturday performance.
I can’t blame Major League Baseball’s devotees for holding back in skepticism. It’s been a long time since the Old English D has made a real dent. But this Tigers fan is feeling his biggest dose of optimism in a LONG time, and doesn’t mind one bit doing it at the expense of the Twins and the Indians.