Nice try, Pete. You thought you could slip one past me, but there’s no way I’m letting you get away with such a backhanded compliment. “In no way am I taking anything away from the Detroit Tigers sweep of the White Sox, but on paper the Sox are a better team” is tantamount to saying “no offense, but… [insert highly offensive statement here]” or “[insert compliment here], having said that… [insert completely contradictory comment here].”
Your “on paper” argument is paper thin. I might have overlooked it if the Tigers hadn’t completely dismantled the Sox over the weekend in every facet of the game, outscoring them by a total of 21-3, including not one, but two shutouts. Scoring 9 runs in not one, but two games is an accomplishment in an of itself, but to do it without the services of Victor Martinez is even more impressive.
Most national writers had the Tigers, Sox and Twins separated by as few as two games by the end of the season, so I’m not sure what “paper” you’re reading. All three teams have obvious strengths and glaring weaknesses that should make the AL Central an interesting race throughout the season. But it seems the Tigers are the only ones living up to even modest expectations.
On paper, I’ll give you that the Sox have a solid rotation, but it lacks a true ace, while the Tigers have not one, but two aces in Verlander and Scherzer. On paper, the Sox have a lineup with power and some speed, but it is clearly inconsistent. Major off-season addition, Adam Dunn has been forced into the difficult role of DH which he originally had expressed reservations about and has clearly struggled with hitting a paltry .145 with only 2 home runs thus far. Meanwhile, the Tigers have a perennial MVP candidate in Cabrera anchoring a productive young lineup. On paper, the Sox have an inexperienced bullpen with no closer, while the Tigers have a proven lights-out 8th/9th inning combo of Benoit and Valverde. On paper, the Sox have what should be a decent defense, but paper can’t solve the almost comical performance we’ve seen so far.
So “thanks” for the backhanded compliment, but you can keep it. As this past weekend has shown, these are no “paper” Tigers you’re dealing with—these are the real thing.