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’05 White Sox Similar to ’84 Tigers?

I mentioned it several times… Something about the 2005 White Sox reminded me of the 1984 Tigers. Regular Tigerblog reader Dan, whose hatred of all things White Sock is both obvious and quite laudable from this Tiger fan’s perspective, disagreed at least to some extent, and I think he has some valid points. But I think I have found what it is that brought those ’84 Tigers to mind: Win pattern. The Tigers had that great 35-5 start, a statistic that no Tiger fan will forget. Hell, I even remembered when the Braves set a record in 1997 for the most wins in April with 19… But they were 19-6, and I recalled those beloved ’84 Tigers finishing April at 18-2. Off the top of my head. Without looking it up. 18-2 beats the hell out of 19-6, but I have now digressed from the topic at hand. No, the White Sox didn’t race out to a 35-5 start. Indeed, they weren’t 10 games over .500 until 14-4, weren’t 20 games over until 39-19, and didn’t reach 30 games over until 56-26 on July 5th. But still, they had a pretty good start and jumped out to a big lead in the AL Central Division right from the beginning. Then, as the “dog days” portion of the season approached, they went through a period of downright mediocre performances, including an astounding 12-16 record in the month of August (the Tigers of ’84 slipped some in August, too, though they squeaked out of the month with an above-.500 mark of 16-15). But as the end of the season approached, the White Sox seemed like they flipped the switch. Their last 5 series went like this: Took 2 of 3 in Minnesota, dropped 2 of 3 at home to Cleveland, won 3 of 4 at home against the Twins, dropped the first 2 and won the last 2 in their 4-game split in Comerica, then swept the final 3 games in Cleveland (despite the games being important to the Indians, and not so much to the Sox), an overall mark of 11-6. The ’84 Tigers in their last 5 series? Took 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays at home, swept the Brewers at home (clinched the AL East during this series), took 2 of 3 from the Yankees at home, won 2 of 3 in Milwaukee, and split a 4-game year-ender in Yankee Stadium, for an 11-7 finish. We all know about the White Sox’s 11-1 record in the playoffs, much like the 7-1 record the Tigers compiled in their post-season.

But that’s a big pile of words… Let’s have ourselves a picture, shall we?

That shows it pretty clear… Most of the ascents align with each other quite well, as do the periods of stability (stretch of near-.500 baseball), with the exception of the White Sox tailspin toward the end there. Then I got to wondering about putting some other teams on there, just as a contrast, to show that other playoff teams from other years had dissimilar patterns. In other words, why other teams have not reminded us of the ’84 Tigers. At first, I wanted the last team from each league with a better record than the 104 wins of the ’84 Tigers, then I went for the last team to finish between 99 wins (’05 White Sox) and 104 (’84 Tigers). I came up with this chart:

Shows pretty clearly that the ’01 Mariners just plain never had a patch of mediocrity, and that the ’04 Cardinals and ’04 Yankees had their patches of mediocrity, but in an entirely different part of the year from where the ’84 Tigers and ’05 White Sox had theirs.

Good point, Jeff. It isn’t so much team quality as it is the arc of their season. That does make sense, and they are similar in that way. I guess I just objected because I don’t like any White Sox team compared to any Tigers team, especially when I’m so certain that that Tigers team was demonstrably better than the White Sox. I have to live in their stinking city, so I’m tired of hearing about them in a relative Tiger haven such as this. If reading Tigerblog promises anything, it’s that I won’t have to deal with White Sox topics! Well, they won the World Series, so I suppose I have to deal with it. Suffice it to say that I’m having a hard time.

Posted by Dan on November 17th, 2005 at 5:14 pm

This column is purely a tip of the cap to you, Dan… Further comparison shows what you’re saying, that they were entirely different teams that won in entirely different ways… But still something felt familiar. I finally put my finger on it, and now that I’ve solved it, you won’t have to hear about it any more.

Posted by jeff k on November 17th, 2005 at 5:40 pm

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