I have a friend named Melissa, who I know through IAAP, and then later Facebook. A die-hard Tigers fan from Michigan, Melissa & I have had lots of good-natured trash talk about our favorite baseball teams. As much as I despise the Tigers – the team I hate the most in MLB – whenever they did well, I would think, “well, at least Melissa is happy.”

She battled cancer for several years, beating it multiple times only to see it return. One cryptic Facebook post asked for prayers. Later she revealed it was about the cancer returning, but the initial post just asked for prayers. By this time the Indians had seized control of the AL Central. I responded to the post with, “If this is about the Tigers, they’re beyond even God’s help.” Her response contained several rows of the “laugh until you cry” emoji, and a couple more back-and-forth posts about our teams. It was a nice way to deal with the Indians going 1-18 against them every year in the early 2010s.

Finally, cancer won the war.

I thought of her often as the Indians and Tigers played this week. Today, my thought is, “It’s probably better that she didn’t live to see this.”

If you turn on a TV and see a baseball game that alleges is being played by the Tigers, and after 5 minutes you think “this is the Toledo Mud Hens,” you’re right. This is mostly a minor league team. They still have Miguel Cabrera and a dynamic young hitter named Leonys Martin that the Indians couldn’t get out. The rest looks pretty sad. Victor Martinez is showing his age. Nick Castelleanos is a good hitter, but he is a third baseman who looks lost playing right field. The whole defense was a bad slapstick comedy movie last night. The pitching staff is a hot mess. After playing their first 5 home games in frigid temperatures, the weather began to normalize on Wednesday and Cleveland rocked the Tigers. We won all 4 games, and with the 2 wins over a similarly minor-league-looking team from Kansas City, the Tribe is tied for first.

In 2013, these teams played 18 games and the Tigers won 14 of them. Many were blowouts. So I will watch these games with the tables completely turned and enjoy. And I’ll be happy knowing my friend Melissa isn’t being tortured with watching it. RIP Melissa. You’re in a much better place than your Tigers.