Will Tigers be champs or road kill?

BY foxsports • July 13, 2012

True story.

I'm driving on a fairly major thoroughfare in Detroit last week and the cars in front of me slow down. As we proceed, I see a very large, almost frighteningly so, box turtle having just started to make his (or her … I mean, who really knows box turtle genders, other than other box turtles?) way across this street.

The thought was immediate: Man, that's confidence -- or, he/she/it didn't know any better.

And as the Tigers begin the back nine this weekend in Baltimore, that turtle's journey seems to fit. Have some confidence and ignore all the noise and traffic that goes on around you. And don't stop.

The timing of the current hot streak, five straight victories just before the break, couldn't have been any better. No team had a more productive stretch just before the All-Star Game. There haven't been this many four-day smiles since the release of "50 Shades of Grey."

The season has gone from head-scratcher to headache to head tilt, as in maybe, just maybe.

Until fairly recently, in light of expectations, they were playing very disappointing baseball. More Luis Pujols than Albert Pujols.

Remember the giggly giddiness at the start of the year?  I mean, really, who says you can't win em all?

We were so young and impressionable then.

That's what's made the long slog up to .500 seem like the first half-hour of "The Hunger Games." Geez, when are we going to get to the good stuff?  

Perhaps we're there.

The Tigers are helped by playing in a division that shares the life philosophy of the E-Trade baby: "You win some, you lose some." As the game reconvenes, it's a scrum at the top of the division.

The White Sox lead by 3 games over the Indians and 3 1/2 over Detroit. One stretch of goodness or badness can completely flip the American League Central on its head.

These next four series will provide breathless drama. At Baltimore, home to the Angels and White Sox and then at Cleveland. Xanax sales might be brisk.

You don't have to be Ernie Banks to know about the keys to the second half of the season. Tyra Banks can rattle these off:

More production from Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch and Alex Avila, and the typical second half for Ryan Raburn. And we'd like to see this year's Doug Fister approximate last year's version. It will be a nice problem to have to figure out where Andy Dirks will slide into the equation once he gets healthy, but his return is not expected for some time.

Jim Leyland regularly says, "I've got no idea how it's going to turn out. Let's see."

Strangely, that same reasoning was in the turtle's head. And maybe the Tigers will end up flattened on the road, but until the next steps are taken, no one will ever know.

As he/she/it and all turtles everywhere will tell you, "It's never how you start. It's all about the finish."

And we're only to the middle of the road.

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