By:  Holly Horning

Thank goodness the Tigers took our minds off the bullpen by distracting us with their sloppy error-filled games this past week. Ah, but not so fast Front Office. This pen is soooo bad (ok, everyone, you know you want to ask that infamous question) that whenever we walk past a dumpster fire, we automatically think of the Tigers relievers.

In case you were wondering, the bullpen has totally bottomed out now and hit the very bottom of MLB teams in the majority of categories. Through the first 21 games, they have a collective 6.72 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.

Yet, the bullpen remains relatively the same. No fresh names or faces. And KRod will remain the closer until hell freezes over. But despite their constant “pay no attention to the kerosene and box of matches on the mound” spiels, all of those responsible for this mess know exactly what is going on. They aren’t ignoring it despite their Mel Brooksian excuses. And they really, really want to do something about it.

But in reality, they probably can’t.

Let’s look at the warm bodies. Logically, if the Tigers had someone capable in the minors, that person would have been brought up by now. Their best prospect, Joe Jimenez, arrived and it’s now apparent that he is not yet ready.

KRod remains the closer despite his 6.23 ERA, 1.85 WHIP and mind-blowing 87.5% ability to allow inherited runners to score. (We won’t even touch the subject of whether or not he should remain the closer – a subject that will take at least a week’s worth of blogs, several bottles of Grey Goose and an experienced shrink.) But the scariest point is a comment published indicating that he would remain the “9th inning guy” simply because, logically, there was no other place to put him.

Anibal Sanchez is still warming a seat in the pen. That’s the good news because when he gets up, that’s when the problems start. Fans universally feel that he should be released. They point to the sunk cost and a body taking up a roster spot. But truth is, he is still there because he still remains valuable in some capacity (still largely unknown) to the team.

The same with Bruce Rondon. A guy who goes through surgery, gets sent home due to his work ethic, gets into fights and shows up hugely overweight to spring training. Yet, he’s still with the team.

Sense a pattern here?

The reason these guys are still drawing breath wearing the Old English D is in part because the Tigers have no one else to replace them. Blame much of it on Dave Dombrowski who ransacked the minors system for trade chips but now, add Avila to the mix. He did nothing to improve the pen after another horrible 2016 year.

But as Deep Throat infamously said, “Follow the money.” It always goes back to the dollars in the end. The Tigers have already released Mike Pelfrey and Mark Lowe to the tune of $14 million.

Add in Sanchez’s $22 mill, KRod’s $6 mill and $1 mill to Rondon. Dumping 5 players to the tune of $43 million is, for some teams, half their payroll. And then there’s the issue of new payroll of some level to replace these lost souls. It would be a headline-grabbing move that would publicly make the organization look foolish and inept. And for some employees, enough to get them fired because someone will have to take the fall for a mistake of this magnitude.

Add to the argument supporting finances and lack of personnel is a new one. Chris Ilitch. Maybe the reason why Avila was unable to revamp the pen was because he was given no payroll. Maybe the reason why these under-performing players have stayed is because Chris won’t sign off on their release.

And that, right now, will be the biggest question going into the summer. A summer considered to be the last possible hurrah for this core before the team is forced to go into rebuild mode.

If the pen remains the same in personnel and performance, it means the priority for winning is no longer there because the focus has been put on the money.

And that’s because the team and its books are being prepped for sale mode, not playoff mode.


By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 22 games (11-11), the season is in full swing and plenty of storylines are playing out before our eyes during the first weeks of regular season play.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Holly and Kurt have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.



In a radio interview earlier in the week, Al Avila was asked about Brad’s best qualities as a manager. He came up with exactly one – (sic) “always stays calm and never gets upset” as we saw during last weekend’s incident with Jones getting injured, Boyd getting ejected and benches clearing. What’s really concerning is that there was no mention of the skills that actually win games – like strategy, flexibility, or adapting to game situations.


Being a utility player gets no love and little understanding but where would the Tigers be without Andrew Romine? Named by some national media this week as the Tigers’ most athletic player, the man has earned his weight in gold by molding himself into any position or need created by injuries and lack of depth. And to “up” his hitting game because he wanted to make a bigger difference is even more value added.


The Tigers have been very sloppy in the field this year with the frequency of their gaffes gaining speed. A program recently on “clean play” discussed how errors don’t tell the complete story and every team needs to practice it if they want to win consistently. The analysts (including some Gold Glove winners) also said it is primarily the manager’s responsibility to ensure that “clean play” principles are preached, practiced and enforced.



I have been borderline insulted since the day Brad said it. When faced with questions about a very worrisome situation with our closer, Brad felt that people finding fault in KRod’s performance had “short memories.” Sorry, but in evaluating his current ineffectiveness, I find no value in considering that he used to be good. My memory is just fine and I realize that KRod has had a great career, but this part of his career is approaching the end for a reason.


We scratched our heads during the off-season as countless free agents were brought in to fill our minor league system. But it’s been refreshing to have 2 ‘veterans’ come up and contribute. Chris Ilitch is happy with the young guys (Jim Adduci, 31 and John Hicks, 27) but may want to check their birth certificates before considering them the next diaper dandies.


Are you getting tired of beating on the annual disappointments in the bullpen? Well, there is always the lousy defense to fall back on! Since the nightmare in Tampa, the Tigers only wish they could still blame a roof on their continuing troubles. But among others, ‘Nick’ Castellanos only has his glove to blame for 3, count them, 3 errors Friday night, in an ugly loss to the ChiSox.


microphoneIt’s Friday folks, which means it’s your day! This is the day for you to be heard. Today is the one day during the month where you get the opportunity to comment on the Tiger topic of your choosing.

This is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can really get those juices flowing. Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.  So, pick a topic and let us hear from you. We know there’s a lot on your minds…






By:  Holly Horning

I remember hearing a story decades old from an opposing player opining about brawls between two teams. He said that if a fight was about to break out, the opponents should be able to have the choice of fighting the entire Tigers squad or Willie Horton – but not both.

But maybe Willie should be sitting in the Tigers’ dugout more often given that the number of teams picking fights with Detroit has been on the rise over the past 3 years. Most of them within the AL Central with multiple incidences of “errant” pitches – and not initially started by the Tigers. Several of them going back a couple years and finding renewed life each season.

The latest obviously was this past weekend’s incident that saw JaCoby Jones go on the DL. But its roots can be traced back to a mere week ago and also last year.

The most significant brawl was last year in which Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer “lost control” and plunked 3 Tiger stars, including beaning Ian Kinsler. And if you’re waiting for a pitcher to admit he hit a player as “payback”, you’ll be waiting an awful long time. Even Justin Verlander talked about how a pitch of his “got away” from him last season.

Whether or not you believe in purpose pitches, sending messages, protecting your teammates or delivering “an eye for an eye”, there are 3 more important issues at stake.

1. Why are teams picking on the Tigers more? Do other teams see a less-aggressive (or passionate) team? Do other teams find them to be “easier pickings”?

a. Does the manager’s calm demeanor factor into any of this? Was Jim Leyland’s fiery response to seeing his players hit more intimidating?

2. Why aren’t the umpires proactive instead of reactive? They come into these games and appear surprised when brawls break out. Even those that just happened a week ago.

a. Why don’t they have records about teams and issues to observe when they come into a park to umpire? How hard could it be to know that certain teams have a history of bad blood?

b. When the Indians return at the beginning of May, will the umpires remember what happened last September and this month? Wouldn’t it be a better idea for them to warn each side before the first pitch is even thrown instead of waiting for both benches to clear?

3. Will the umpires association make changes in how they address questionable HBPs before something tragic happens? Throughout baseball over the entire weekend, there were multiple incidences of players being hit on purpose with a handful ending up on the DL as a result.

a. Can the Tigers afford to stay quiet about the risks posed to their players by the Indians, Twins, Rangers and others who have hit their players? Can they afford to lose any more guys to the DL?

More importantly, can they risk losing or jeopardizing the health of any of their players in what is expected to be their last viable year for October baseball?


By:  Kurt Snyder & Holly Horning

After a rough stay in Tampa, the Tigers recovered with a series win in the Twin Cities. But some performances just refuse to change. So we have a problem and we have a question.

As is the norm, Kurt and Holly have not shared their answers; the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.

With each home run allowed, Anibal Sanchez appears to be done. Do you think the Tigers will release him soon, despite the big-ticket salary?


I was so encouraged by the adjustments that Anibal made during spring training. He definitely appeared to have remedied what had been ailing him. Starting the season in the bullpen was the right move it seemed.

And assuming he would continue to progress, I could visualize a role for him being forged in the late innings. Yes, I had that kind of enthusiasm. It was guarded, but I was encouraged all the same.

But wow, once the bright lights went on, down went Sanchez. He hasn’t had anything since, which is so puzzling. Every outing it seems includes a long ball. He can’t locate. His stuff is very average and he just doesn’t seem like a major league pitcher any longer, and to be honest, it’s pretty sad.

He’s given this team so much over the years as he has been one of my favorite Tiger pitchers. He was a surgeon the way he used to carve up hitters.

But the doctor is no longer in. And I don’t see any scenario where he deserves a roster spot. Sure, if he would agree to a stint in Toledo, maybe he could get things together, but it may be pointless.

So I have 2 questions. How desperate is the Tiger organization about winning this year? How much more money are they willing to lose to get better?

This is a big dollar figure folks, and the Tigers will exhaust all other avenues before pulling the plug. In the meantime, expect to see him in more mop-up type duty.


It should be noted that I am writing this earlier in the day on Monday, when the team has the day off, has returned home and the perfect day for taking care of some “housekeeping.” But will this time be one of discussion between Brad and Al about the fate of Anibal? Most definitely, but it may not be as easy as we think.

Most fans who are waiting for something to be done are focused on the money aspect but they should also be considering another “d” word.


Getting rid a player puts you in a tighter spot when, not if, the injuries continue to come and a long-reliever is a guy who does mop-up and pitches (hopefully) irregularly. In other words, you’re the least important man in the bullpen. However, he is a godsend when your bullpen is really taxed and you simply need someone to be the sacrificial lamb by eating innings which pays off more significantly in having a rested bunch of relievers for the next day.

Another question to ask is whether the Tigers have anyone else in the minors who can take over his role and would he be better? Given the current state of the bullpen, wouldn’t someone have been called up this past week if they provided a solution to the dumpster fire known as the bullpen?

Sadly, the Tigers simply may not have enough semi-capable arms to go around and if they do, the priority would be on someone who can pitch in the 7th inning or do short relief. In short, Anibal currently is simply the least important man on the current roster.

Add into this, the money factor. To release 2 players and lose $13 million is one thing but to let go yet one more player at $22 million is another. A salary that still contributes to the luxury tax and will require another salary of some level to fill the hole created. And it’s a decision that gets kicked upstairs to Chris Ilitch because of the money involved.

Yes, the money is a factor but also being considered is how likely another team will pick him for nothing. And the fact that Anibal did achieve some rather impressive results by changing his arm slot this past spring training, you can bet that another team will decide they have nothing to lose by signing him to a minor league contract in hopes that his skills will return.

The fact that Sanchez has remained with the team for so long now tells us that the Tigers want to try as much as they can to salvage something from this experience. Potentially, they may try to negotiate a win-win situation that would send him back to AAA to try to figure things out in a less-stressful environment. It would be a much easier and faster decision if they had enough arms to fill the various holes that exist in the system.


By:  Holly Horning

The Tigers have taken a beating in the national media this week and I don’t remember the last time analysts have shaken their collective heads so universally.

Was it because of their shoddy defense? No. The lack of offense? Not that either. The bullpen? Unbelievably, not even that (although it did get several honorable mentions).

It’s due to all of the excuses. Excuses meant to deflect blame and responsibility for their play. Excuses that are used on a daily basis after every game. And nothing was too silly to mention.

The Indians stealing signs but only from 1 pitcher.

– A pitcher who claimed the air was so cold and dry that he couldn’t properly grip the ball, but the opposing pitcher had no problems.

– The domed ceiling blamed for outfield misplays but selective in the players involved.

– The bouncy new turf used to explain balls bouncing over the head of only one player.

– The reliever who gained a significant amount of weight in a suspiciously short amount of time and on someone else’s watch.

– Fans yelling “I got it!” and players who thought it was their nearby teammate. (And if you believe that one, then Houston, we’ve got a real problem.)

And my perennial favorite:

– A team that uses “due to injuries” at the end of every year to explain the annual October disappointment.

Aren’t you tired of hearing all of this? I am.

The fact is that most of the team, as well as management, uses excuses to justify poor performance. You can literally count the ones who take full responsibility on one hand. One of them was just given his walking papers so now we’re down to 4.

And then there’s Terry Francona. After losing a number of crucial players last year, and then losing his first World Series ever, said this:

“We had injuries. We had you name it, and not once did we use it as an excuse.”

Do you think that Tito and his team would have gone all the way to the World Series if he allowed the excuse mindset to plant roots among the players? You already know the answer.

The fact is that when you are allowed to push the excuse button, you have a ready-made “out.” When you can blame someone or something, the desire to push yourself to take chances at being the very best is a little less. You now have something to use to explain away performance that is not your best. Your fear of failure now has an override mode.

And when you use excuses regularly, they only reinforce self-defeating patterns of thought that keep you from achieving your desired highest level of success.

Like playoffs. A World Series. A ring.

This brings me to mention another guy from Detroit. He never played baseball but the Tigers would be wise to read his book Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. It is about how using and hanging onto excuses keeps you from fulfilling your dreams and relegates you to a life in which your top goals are never realized.

His name, of course, is Dr. Wayne Dyer. Professor, counselor, coach, writer and motivational speaker. He knew what he was talking about. And a number of baseball teams do have his books on their required reading list. I’m pretty sure the Tigers aren’t one of them.

And maybe the reason why is due to their corporate culture. It may not matter how talented your players are or how much money you spend if those in charge allow excuses to be a valid rationale for performance instead of enforcing accountability and changing mindsets.

A change in the corporate culture is sorely needed. But it never comes from the people associated with the old one. It has to come from an outsider who is brought in. Someone at the top who sets the tone and makes sure it trickles down. A new President. Even a new owner. Time will tell whether Chris Ilitch is that guy.


By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

After 16 games, the season is in full swing and plenty of storylines are playing out before our eyes during the first weeks of regular season play.

Saturday’s segment is a day to touch on as many issues as possible. Let’s see what Kurt and Holly have on their minds this week. They don’t share their Saturday topics and it’s only for the readers’ benefit. So, expect a wide array of thoughts.



Why wasn’t Mikie Mahtook used at any point during the entire series with the Rays given that he played there for the past two years and has a solid .995-1.000 defensive record? Given that Ausmus spoke about the difficulties of being an outfielder in that stadium, why didn’t he substitute Mahtook for the rookie Jones? How many bad plays did Collins have to make in RF in order to be replaced?


Ever since Miggy was removed from the WBC game due to a “tight” back, the Tigers have said multiple times that Miggy’s recent flare-up, in which he was pulled from the game, had nothing to do with playing in the WBC. But several days ago, in an interview with Miggy, he specifically stated that his injury was tied to the one he suffered while playing for Venezuela. Several hours later, that entire paragraph was pulled from the local newspaper in which it appeared – just further evidence that certain individuals are vigilant about controlling the message and that some in the media appear to be willing to help them.


Through Thursday night, there was only 1-run separating first and last place in the AL Central with the Tigers tied for first with an 8-7 record. But run differential (a team’s stat combining offensive and defensive scoring in which runs scored are subtracted from runs allowed) shows that the Tigers are at a ghastly -21 (the Twins are +10, the Indians at +3, the Sox at 0 and the Royals at -6) and sitting second from the bottom in all of MLB. RD is used to give more clarity to the standings, offer hints as to the team’s success for the season and to help predict the number of wins for a team.



Sorry, but I can’t ignore what could be the game’s biggest story of the weekend. Madison Bumgarner has suffered bruised ribs and an injured pitching shoulder as a result of a dirt biking accident, which will put him on the DL for potentially 2 months. So my obvious question is: Why would arguably the best pitcher in baseball, go anywhere near a dirt bike?


Too bad it took an injury to Jose Iglesias to force the Tigers to fortify the bullpen. This hastens the promotion of Joe Jimenez back to the big club. Last season, the Tigers had no choice but to promote Michael Fulmer to the majors earlier than they wanted. This year, he’s back out of pure desperation; and this should be an extended honest-to-goodness shot at establishing a role for him in the pen.


Do we have to wait until JD comes back to move Vmart down in the order? Will he actually be moved down in the order when JD returns? Are you wondering what I am smoking if I think Ausmus will actually make the no-brainer of a move when he returns, if not sooner?


microphoneHappy Friday! It’s time again to head into the weekend hearing from our readers.   You have the rest of the week to hear from Kurt and Holly, today is the day to let them know what you’re thinking on a selected topic.

Friday is the one day of the week where we open up the comment parameters for you, so you can get those juices flowing.

Comments on THIS DAY ONLY can be expanded to a maximum of 8 sentences.

We can’t wait to get your thoughts on the following topic.

Who is more responsible – Al Avila or Brad Ausmus – for the last-place performance of the bullpen?  Support your answer!







By:  Holly Horning

Ah, life’s great mysteries……… Who built the pyramids? Did FDR know in advance that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor? What is really kept in Area 51? And the greatest mystery of all……

Why can’t the Tigers build a decent bullpen?

I mean, really? Even the experts in the national media have asked this question a million times and even joke about Detroit’s track record.

The extent of the organization’s ineptitude was just pointed out by those who crunch the official stats. Since 2003, Dave Dombrowski’s first official roster, the Tigers have had the worst bullpen in all of MLB. With over 6,000 hours of reliever stats, they ranked 30th in SOs, 28th in BBs given up, 20th in HRs served up, 21st in BABIP and 25th in stranding runners. In all reliever categories, they ranked no higher than the bottom fourth of all MLB bullpens.

And many of us are still scarred from October 2012. And the story of the 2 “V”s. The implosion of Jose Valverde and the heroic efforts of Justin Verlander. You would have thought a lesson would have been learned after that high-profile year.

But the Tigers went on to blow a number of playoff opportunities since then. Too many. And some visions we will never be able to erase from our retinas. And yet, nothing really changed except for the strategy of thinking that expensive, over-the-hill closers with their best years behind them would solve the problem.

Yes, the blame can squarely be put on Dave. For all the great trades he made, he was an abject failure at building a pen. Was it because he thought great starting pitching and booming bats could conquer all? Was it because he was old-school and didn’t see the rise in importance of the relievers that was sweeping through MLB? Or was it because he was anti-analytics and didn’t believe the proof showing that solid bullpens win games, especially in playoffs?

Or was it because the Tigers have, for decades, systematically been one of the very last of all MLB teams to adopt new strategies?

Or all of the above?

But now we have Al Avila, Dave’s assistant for 23 years, in charge. And he has the same team of evaluators who also had a hand in building that pen over the years. What are the chances he, and the others, see things differently?

Usually, I aim to be cautiously optimistic. But I’m having a really hard time right now given the implosions we’ve seen so far including the 6-run lead in the 9th that was erased just the other day. Another ageing closer who is using mid-80’s pitches to get the job done. And at least 2 pitchers who should never be throwing another baseball again. One of them most likely because they prioritize money over performance and the other probably because they have no one else to replace him.

More promising relievers have already been shuttling back and forth between Detroit and Toledo. Another reliever, this one highly-touted, pitched exactly 1 inning before being sent back down. And the reason? Shrouded in mystery but leaning more towards the business side of baseball.  The other possibility is just very poor planning.

As to the latter, it may appear that the decision-makers weren’t looking ahead to the next series and instead, making plans on the fly. Absolutely none of it made anyone look good – or appear to know what they were doing.

And then there is the ongoing saga of the troubled pitcher, Bruce Rondon. A guy identified by the GM as being critical to the Tigers’ bullpen this year.

So critical that they didn’t monitor him well in the off-season, especially given his history of lacking commitment. And yet he shows up to camp, vastly overweight, velocity way down and unable to locate pitches. And only on this club do you still make the team. Why wasn’t more done to ensure he remained on track during the winter? Someone really dropped the ball here.

The Tigers are now saddled with 7 relievers and only 2 of them who don’t completely scare us when they get the call. So far this season, the bullpen has allowed 14 of 21 inherited runners to score and they hold the AL record for giving up 29 runs. Their 6.96 ERA and 1.73 WHIP rank 13th out of 15 teams.  And this is the same bullpen trotted out last year minus 1 player.

It simply boggles the mind.

And it would be a shame if this team, as talented as they are, are sold off piecemeal later this summer, all because of the pen. A lesson still not learned after 10+ years and a lesson clearly understood by all MLB teams that your bullpen has to be one of your top assets if you have any hope of playoff contention.


By:  Holly Horning & Kurt Snyder

Well, consider one hurdle cleared. Battle 1 between the Tigers and Indians went Detroit’s way. What a difference a year makes!

Winning the 3-game series brings about a question, one that will take all season to answer. But let’s take a quick bite out of it.

Holly and Kurt have not shared their answers. It’s the best way for our readers to get the best bang for their buck. So here we go.

After the series win in Cleveland, are the Indians still the better team? Explain.


Maybe. No. Still too early to say. All of the above. But most definitely better than last year especially since the Tigers won their first series against the Indians in almost 1.5 years.

This weekend’s win gives us hope; proof that the Tigers are looking to get that Cleveland monkey off its collective back and hope for the future of the team, especially for young pitchers by the name of Norris and Boyd.

The Indians are essentially at full-strength this year with the Tigers suffering more injuries and doing more with less given the absence of JD Martinez and now the annual concern over Miggy. Heck, they even have an outfield problem similar to the Tigers.  Advantage: Tigers.

But I would grade each team on 4 other factors with 2 of them being malleable over time. The first is the mental game as seen in Saturday’s blowout game with many of the Tigers yukking it up in the dugout while their opponents, ahead by a touchdown, were laser-focused on the game with every player wearing his game face.  Advantage: Indians.

The second is (surprise!) the bullpen, that Achilles heel for the Tigers for over 10 years now. Their closer is a ticking time bomb given his age and arsenal while on the other hand, the Indians have one of baseball’s top ranked bunch of relievers with Andrew Miller ranked #1 and Cody Allen sitting at #8. And we know what impact bullpens have on winning.  Advantage: You have to ask?

Third on the list is the manager. While Brad has improved substantially this year, he still is not the savvy, experienced skipper. Contrast him to Terry Francona, arguably 1 of baseball’s top 3 managers and an impressive winning record with scores of WS wins. Advantage:  the Tigers’ former third base coach.

And finally, it’s all about starting pitching – left-handed pitching to be precise and the soft spot in the Indians make-up at the moment. They simply cannot hit it and one of the reasons why Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd were successful this weekend. JV lost his game because he was a RHP but also the one pitcher in MLB who has gone up against Cleveland the most. Forget the “stealing signs” excuse – every analyst on Monday morning dismissed it immediately as not remotely credible.  Advantage: Tigers.

The next time these two teams face each other, the Tigers are expected to have 3 RHP starting those games. If each team has 2 clear advantages which results in a tie, we can only hope that Brad thinks carefully about who will pitch in them, especially JV.


Well, it will take more than one series to determine who has the leg up this season. The end of Game 1 and all of Game 2 looked a lot like last year’s nightmare season series. But moving on from Saturday’s disaster and bouncing back with a solid outing on Sunday to take the series said a lot.

Is the proverbial monkey off their backs? Well, baby steps, ok? It was a good start. When their starter pitched well, they won. When their starter didn’t, they lost. Jim Leyland’s, “you are only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher,” rang true every day in Cleveland, and Brad acknowledged that heading into Saturday.

Offensively, the Tigers are getting the big hit. They homer every single game and continued it all through the Cleveland series, with amazingly, 2 of them coming from Alex Avila.

Cleveland still has the better bullpen, but Andrew Miller got nicked up by the Tigers on Saturday, something you never saw last season.

Last season, the Tigers were not only beaten continuously by the Indians, they were bruised and battered, and never seemed to come close to being able to compete with them. There was a large chasm between the overall talent of both teams and an even bigger gap between the talents of the 2 managers.

This season? Well, the sample size is 3 games, but outside of the Verlander anomaly, the Tigers played to their strengths and their manager is becoming more of a strength than a weakness.

So who’s better? Well, Cleveland is. They came within a whiff of a World Championship, so until they are knocked out or until the Tigers wrestle the division from them, they don’t give up their throne. But there are many battles to come.