Everything looks different on paper. People can look more intimidating, failing companies can look much more profitable and in sports, teams can look more daunting than they actually are in person.
Coming out of the 2014 edition of the All-Star break, plenty of pundits are searching for a reason the Detroit Tigers will fail. Amongst their most common reasons? The schedule is difficult, given the quality teams that will permeate it.
They point to trips to Los Angeles, New York and Toronto, a home and home series with the Pittsburgh Pirates and visits from the San Francisco Giants and resurgent Seattle Mariners as the main reasons why. Except, when looking beyond that, it's easy to see that Detroit's second half is essentially another Central Division tour-de force.
September's finish is 95 percent Central, with two series against Cleveland, Kansas City and Minnesota each helping to finish the year. August has two series with the Twins and White Sox sprinkled around everything else, and July has this weekend's epic four game series against the Indians and a finishing visit from Chicago going for it. A central influence will continue to be felt.
The tried and true theme remains. If the Tigers continue to beat the teams closest to them geographically head to head and play close to .500 baseball otherwise, they will likely win the division for the fourth straight year in a row, regardless of the handful of challenges the schedule as a whole might present.
Those challenges, as well, are only on paper. Who's to say what teams will fall apart that looked good in the first half? Inevitably, that always happens. And who's to say the Tigers, with the third best record in the American League, aren't the toughest team on everyone else's schedule? They've already proven the ability to go head to head with the best, winning series against both the Angels and Athletics in the first half.
It's easy to get caught up with records, schedule difficulty and other outside variables, but in situations like this, it's vital to remember the games play out on the field. In baseball, most of the time it's reasonable to throw expectations out the window and plan for opposites to happen.
In other words, the toughest games on Detroit's upcoming schedule will likely remain those against Central Division competition top to bottom, or the teams that know them the best.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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Tags: Baseball, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, MLB, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants
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