IF MAJOR league baseball were an economic indicator, this part of the nation might just be the most booming place on earth. Economically, these have been fairly tough times for northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Things are sluggish, in large part because of the long-term decline of the domestic auto industry.
Both states are trying to attract new prospects and keep its talented young people from following the lure of the Sunbelt. That hasn't been easy. And yet, at the mid-season All-Star break, the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians have suddenly emerged as possibly baseball's two most talented teams. What's even better, they are locked in a thrilling race in one of baseball's toughest divisions.
The Tigers had a stunning five players named to the All-Star roster (Cleveland had three) and went into the break leading by a game. But the Indians have beaten Detroit six out of 10 times this year, and their starting pitching has been nothing sort of awesome.
The division lead has changed hands more times this season than a bus token. Both teams are playing to near-sellout crowds, and local fans are taking turns whizzing east or west on the freeways. True, it's only a game. But more than one philosopher has said that baseball is a metaphor for America. Four years ago, the Tigers were one of the worst teams in history, and the Indians were just plain awful. Now, this region is on top of the world and who is to say other things may not come roaring back too? It's happened before. As that great philosopher Yogi Berra said, you could look it up.