(my weekly take on the Tigers)

Last Week: 4-2 (plus loss 5/26 at LAA)
This Week: (5/27-28: at LAA; 5/30-6/1: at Sea)

One of the cruelest jokes being played out on an unsuspecting public over the years has been the imported Mexican tradition of the children’s pinata. Any parent whose child has had at least one birthday party at the age of five or above knows what I’m talking about.

The pinata, that candy-filled, festively shaped object, has tormented us moms and dads for years now. And, by extension, our children. The premise is fun: hang it from a tree or a garage beam, beat the tar out of it, and watch it pop open, treats spilling out. That’s the premise.

The reality is that these pinatas must be made by the same folks who manufacture black boxes for airplanes. The year that we were fooled, our daughter and her little friends spent no less than 45 minutes trying to bust that freaking thing open. Granted, they were seven years old and had the strength of watered down beer, but still. We finally gave up and tore the pinata open.

The Tigers’ offense of 2008 is that pinata.

It will occasionally spill out the goodies, as in Saturday’s 19-3 win over Minnesota. Then when the pinata is replaced, it’s back to beating it over and over again with precious little result. The Tigers have scored one run in 21 innings since the Minnesota outburst, after last night’s 1-0, 12-inning loss to the Angels out west.

The Tigers are a perfect example of why you cannot always trust numbers — those things that supposedly never lie. Wrong — they DO lie on occasion. The Tigers rank among the top in runs scored in the American League, but they’ve also been shut out a ton and their overall numbers are skewed by their pinata-like status. Theirs is not an offense built on consistency. If it was graphed, it would look like a snapshot of an EKG (see below).

The Tigers’ offense. Note the gaps between peaks

So there you have it. Nineteen runs here. One there. Two here. Ten there. None there, and there — and there. It’s not how you win enough to be a serious playoff contender.

It is, however, the kind of offense befitting teams with 21-30 records.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so, do NOT ever buy a pinata. Unless you have a rifle with you — and that’s not very kid-friendly.