Cleveland, Detroit come of age — almostWritten by Matt Sussman | | email@example.com
There’s this episode of “The Simpsons” where Bart becomes a model student and Lisa spirals downward into juvenile delinquency. Homer sighs, “We always have one good kid and one lousy kid. Why can’t both our kids be good?” When reminded that they had three kids, he replied, “Marge, the dog doesn’t count as a kid.”
And here’s where the metaphor kicks in. The sports cities of Cleveland and Detroit are like our little Simpson children. In every major sport, at least one team’s rather good, while one team’s quite bad. (Recent exception: The NFL, with the Lions and Browns. As if you had to ask, they’re like Bart and his evil twin.) As for our forgotten third child, we’ll go ahead and slap that label on Cincinnati, because they’re tucked way down there in Ohio. So adorable.
But this year, Bart and Lisa appear to be on their best behavior. The Pistons and Cavaliers are duking it out in the NBA’s Eastern Conference final. Even though the Pistons should (and will) win the series, The Association’s Eastern dominance lies firmly within a 2-hour radius of Toledo.
The same could go with baseball. The Indians and Tigers are sitting in first and second place atop the American League Central Division. Currently one of those teams would win the AL Central, with the other snagging the Wild Card. This is a swift departure from having either one good Tigers team (in the ’80s, in 2006) or one good Indians team (in the ’90s, early ’00s). Oh, and guess which two teams are playing each other this weekend, including a Sunday night game on ESPN. That particular game will feature two pitchers I used to make fun of and, because of the type of dude I am, still do to some extent.
On the Indians side is Fausto Carmona, who hit the major league scene on the wrong side of heroics last year. In his first week as closer, he gave up three walk-off home runs — including one to the Tigers. While his teammates chewed tobacco or gum, he probably deserved a batting helmet full of Paxil. But this year, he’s a starter with a 5-1 record, including two head-to-head wins against two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana. On the Tigers side is Mike Maroth, who lost 20 games in the infamous 2003 season, and was injured most of last year. The left-hander is back this year with a snazzy 3-1 record.
The Indians and Tigers could both wind up with winning records.
They grow up so fast. As opposed to our Lions and Browns, which grow up like the Simpson kids: not at all.