Green: Astros, Cubs give Tigers hope for miracle in 2016

Jerry Green
Special to The Detroit News
Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers finished in last place in the AL Central this season with a 74-87 record.

What time is it? There is this monstrous dream. The worst nightmare. These creatures in flaming orange are cavorting through my head. They are playing a game of baseball against similar creatures dressed in blue fluorescent shirts. Or are they New York style pinstripes?

There is the usual numbness in my ankles and feet, a twitch in my back – and a grunted yawn.

What the hay?

I reach over and push the button on the iPhone. It reveals the time: 1:35 in the ayem.

And I jab at another button. There is the score: Mets 3, Dodgers 1. It was 0-0 when I finally turned off the telly late Friday.

There had been genuine live images flashing before me then. And the greatest pitcher in modern baseball – according to my California news outlets – had matters in hand in the game from the coast when I hit the red OFF button.

Now, Clayton Kershaw had been beaten again in playoff competition. Last year's National League MVP and Cy Young Award winner is now 1-6 in his career in postseason games.

Then I giggle into the night.

And fully awake, the monstrous dream returns for scrutiny.

The creatures in the flaming orange are the Houston Astros. One of the sad-sack franchises in Major League Baseball. A ballclub as lousy as they make them a year ago.

Wild-card dreamers

Bud Selig's toy team in his madcap final touch of finagling as baseball commissioner to leave his sport with a permanent wound.

The Astros: The National League pennant winner only 10 years ago in the World Series; then shifted to the American League just like that. And near the bottom for several years.

Henning: Tigers going for broke in 2016

Now in this crazy, monstrous dream: The Astros are back in the World Series in the chill of late October into November – looking like orange popsicles. No preservatives added. Playing with Carlos Correa, the wondrous rookie shortstop, and Jose Altuve, the 5-foot-5 batting champion in 2014. Playing the Cubs in their blue-shirt uniforms. With the rookie phenoms, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber – minor leaguers when the 2015 season began.

The two second wild-card teams from the 162-game season.

The impossible dream?

Hark back to another October, just a year ago.

Two wild-card teams were playing, in what Bud actually termed a World Series. Fourth-placers among the full-league true standings, playing seven games before it ends. The Giants over the Royals. With on-the-air raves from Joe Buck on Fox TV.

Baseball's supposed climax, with basement TV ratings.

A pair of impostors in a fitting tribute to Bud's swansong as commissioner.

And a year later, as the late Yogi Berra is said to have said: "Déjà vu all over again."

Now I am imagining the Astros vs. the Cubs playing a World Series in the first year of one Rob Manfred, the new commissioner.

October again, in my Fantasyland.

The Astros vs. the Cubs? Or the Mets in their mimic-the-Yankees pinstripes and NY caps? In a touted World Series. A World Series for the ages.

At least, the Cubs, back in history, won two actual World Series. My father told me about them. He was a kid then. In October 1907 and in October 1908. The last time, just 107 years ago. The Cubs beat the Tigers and Ty Cobb both years.

You could look it up.

Now happy, I realize Astros in orange vs. Cubs in blue is only a terrible nightmare.

It could never happen. Not in this era of sabermetrics.

Classic appeal

A haunting thought: Even the Tigers are headed toward analytics. This team that has played in two World Series in the past decade; this team that had four successive first-place finishes based on old-fashioned baseball scouting and trading until this year's pratfall.

But if the Astros and Cubs made it to the playoffs this year after scraping close to the bottom from years, there is hope for a miracle in Detroit in 2016.

Sunrise -- and now the wide-awake daydream in Fantasyland:

It is Game 7 of the World Series, early November, and there are the Dodgers and Royals playing in classic baseball uniforms. White for the Royals at home, trimmed in old-fashioned blue. The Dodgers in their historic grays, also with blue-trimmed lettering.

Somehow, the Dodgers have finally ousted the Cardinals for the pennant in the National League.

And there it is the image of the daydream, the way it should be. The best two teams of the American and National Leagues -- real-time first-place clubs – in this World Series for the ages.

And in this vision: The best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, strikes out Eric Hosmer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Some place, Tommy Lasorda hugs Kirk Gibson, and Pee Wee Reese places an arm around Jackie Robinson.

Jerry Green is a retired Detroit News sports writer.