Twins-Tigers race figures to go to the wire

BY foxsports • September 29, 2009

Surely, pre-algebra students everywhere are picking the Tigers to win the American League Central. They have a two-game lead with seven to play. The odds are in their favor. They are supposed to win.

Me? I'm prepared to submit the following two statements.

1. As big as this four-gamer appears to be — and I'm counting on some very good baseball between the Tigers and Twins this week — we're not going to know the division champion until Saturday. At the earliest.

2. I won't be surprised in the least if the Metrodome hosts Game No. 163 next Monday ... or Tuesday, in deference to Brett Favre and the NFL's primetime schedule.

To be clear: I have believed for some time that the Tigers will win the division, and I'm not about to abandon that position now. But it's foolish to expect that they will celebrate in front of the Twins on Wednesday or Thursday. Minnesota's 9-5 edge in the season series would suggest that Detroit should feel fortunate to split these games.

Still, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that it's only a matter of time before Champagne sprays in the home clubhouse at Comerica Park. According to the Baseball Prospectus postseason odds report, which synthesizes a lot of data I don't understand, the Tigers have a 78.7 percent chance of winning the division.

Again, that seems very reasonable. Detroit plays its final seven games of the regular season at home, including three against the already-eliminated Chicago White Sox. Jim Leyland's team has been in first place since May. That counts for something, right?

But consider this: In the midst of last weekend's series between the Tigers and White Sox, manager Ozzie Guillen accused his players of focusing more on bleeping Saturday college football games than their own bleeping business.