If you didn't watch a Tigers game all year, you just saw the entire season rolled up into one. This game prominently featured everything good and bad that the Tigers have done all year.
They got the clutch hit, but left millions of runs on the basepaths.
They made the huge defensive play, but made crucial defensive mistakes.
They got the big out, and then gave in to the lesser hitter.
For everything that the Tigers did well, there was something that made Tigers fans collectively facepalm, or die, just a little, or ask the bartender for another or, etc.
Such was the case all season. They didn't all happen at once, but any decent sample size would show you: this was a team with all of the pieces, but they just couldn't get them to move together. The 2009 Tigers were not great, but they were good. They were good enough to win the Central. They were good enough to make a run in the playoffs. They wouldn't, of course, because they weren't that good of a team. The Tigers are better than the Twins. I feel more confident saying that after tonight than I have all month, but the Twins are the better team. Their whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Tigers were about equal, and often played like less.
I'm not going to excuse the Tigers for what happened tonight, or this season, nor am I going to lay particular blame on them. It just wasn't in the cards. You can't create, and then blow, that many opportunities and argue anything but the fact that Angry Michigan Sports Hating God emphatically said "NO" to this year's team, and then made a shallow fly disappear and roll to the wall for a triple, before giving a routine groundball an invisible jetpack to get through the middle.
That said, the Metrodome claimed another victim tonight, in what was perhaps its shining moment. The secret is that the building's steel was forged by Lucifer himself and the dome is inflated by the last breaths of dying puppies and kittens. So, yes. The Metrodome wins again, and the Twins live to play another day.
This team was frustrating, exhilarating, exhausting, exciting, maddening and entertaining all season long. Why wouldn't it extend into game 163? So for me, despite all of the disappointment I feel, I will be able to make peace with this season. They did the one thing that we all really wanted, deep down. They gave us a full season of baseball, and made it exciting until the final day of the season, and then some. We would be so lucky to have that same luxury every year.
I spoke to my dad right after the game and he said that this felt just like 1967 to him, when the Tigers had two double headers on the last two days of the season and split both with the Angels, ceding the pennant to the Red Sox/Twins winner. As he told me the story, I had just one thought.
After 1967 came 1968.
Be Replicated in 2010?
We'll just have to wait and see.