Soak It Up, Tigers Are 2011 AL Central Champs

On a day when the Tigers got contributions from a wide array of players, the Tigers pulled out a 3-1 victory and secured their first division championship in 24 years for the team, and for the fans.

It wasn't a perfect game for the Tigers, but after staying up until the wee hours of the morning, it's hard to imagine a more perfect setting.

After 150 games, including the longest win streak the organization has seen since the Great Depression, the Tigers didn't need a perfect game, they only needed a win.

Newly acquired Doug Fister, arguably the best deadline acquisition of anyone traded this summer, led the way, tossing eight strong innings, before handing the ball over to closer Jose Valverde, who secured the win while earning his 45th save of the season.

The offense struggled most of the game, going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, and didn't take the lead until a run scoring triple from Wilson Betemit (another mid-season acquisition) in the sixth inning.

But a win is a win, and the Tigers celebrated it all the same.

The players rushed to the prepared locker room, with bottles of champagne and beer waiting for them, along with hats and shirts commemorating the division championship.

The star of the game, Fister, once again refused to take credit for any of his masterful work on the mound, instead passing the praise onto the entire team effort.

As the players celebrated, Jim Leyland sat off in a corner and talked to the media, tearing up as he talked glowingly about his team and how hard they've worked, talking about how happy he was for the fans and how he hoped they were as proud of this team as he was.

Full disclosure: As Leyland spoke and tears streamed down his face, he wasn't the only one. Just thinking about it as I type these words up makes me think it must be getting dusty in here, again.

For many Tigers fans, this division crown evokes memories of the good old days, the great teams of the 60's and 80's. But for many newer Tigers fans, myself included, those memories have mostly been non-existent. The 80's were spent in diapers and are only a memory through highlights, and 2006 aside, there hasn't been much to celebrate over the past couple decades.

There is still plenty of baseball to be played, jockeying for home field advantage and setting up a playoff run. However, that's a discussion for tomorrow.

For today, the Tigers should enjoy their masterful run this season, and the Tigers' fans should soak up every minute of it.

Because tomorrow, when Jim Leyland starts Don Kelly in the three hole or yanks his starter to bring in a reliever to make his career debut with runners on and promptly gives up the tying run, it'll be right back to focusing on the game, and the team.

So, enjoy it Tigers fans. 2011 AL Central division champions. Has a nice ring to it.

Wouldn't mind adding a few more championships to it as well.

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