Essentially, from the moment that the Second World War ended until the early 1990’s, the United States and it’s allies in NATO were engaged in an unofficial war with the Soviet Union and it’s allies in the Warsaw Pact. While there was never an official declaration of war, both sides engaged in an arms race that seemed to guarantee mutually assured destruction if either side were to actually attack the other.
In their own way, the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland A’s have engaged in baseball’s version of an arms race. having faced one another in each of the last two American League Division Series. Having lost to the Tigers in each of the last two seasons, Billy Beane and the A’s left no doubt that they were all in this season, acquiring Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and Jon Lester as he completely revamped Oakland’s starting rotation.
Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers, not content to sit back and let the A’s win the American League, at least on paper, went out and bolstered their rotation as well. With their acquisition of David Price, the Tigers now have the last three American League Cy Young Award winners, as well as last season’s ERA leader in Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers, who have been searching for that elusive championship for owner Mike Ilitch, are also all in.
Seemingly on a collision course to meet once again in the playoffs, the Tigers and A’s have continued to make moves to improve their chances. While neither team is likely to claim that their moves were made with the other in mind, the A’s may well have put together a truly dominant pitching staff in the hopes that it would stifle the Tigers offense. Detroit, seeing what the A’s did earlier, brought in another arm to keep pace.
The Cold War and the subsequent arms race is alive and well, at least within the American League. The A’s and Tigers both have aspirations of being the true superpower in baseball, and know that, in all likelihood, they will need to go through the other in order to reach the World Series.
The Tigers and A’s have begun the latest chapter in their arms race. Come the postseason, it will be interesting to see how this most recent chapter will play out.