You'll have to forgive me, but I watched a four-and-a-half hour baseball game yesterday, and it's turned my brain. Here's how I compare the Tigers to a mystery novel.

Characters: both a baseball team and a novel need characters that we want to see succeed. We have cool guys like Magglio and Marlowe, brash guys like Granderson and Magnum, and tired old workhorses like Jones (Todd) and Jones (Barnaby), who get the job done even if they drive us nuts while they're at it.

Setting: Detroit is a great place for mystery: lots of shady history, lots of grit, lots of crime. Even on the road, the Tigers carry with them the aura of Comerica Park, a shining spot in the middle of urban chaos, shining knights from the Dark Places.

Plot: The idea of a mystery is that you don't know the whys and the whos until the end. (Who will be the hero, who the goat, and why don't we have any offense when we need it?) The story is supposed to arc, leading the reader up and down small rises that take him higher and higher until the big surprise at the end. Sometimes they take a long time, like last night's game, but as long as the reader/watcher is satisfied, he'll stay with it.

Satisfying ending: when a mystery novel is over, the reader should understand it all and get some sort of satisfaction: maybe justice, maybe something less, but something. That's where the Tigers really get mysterious. Nobody expects a happy ending to this season, and the mystery of their downs and ups may never be fully explained. Even with all the right elements, sometimes a mystery just doesn't come together at the end.

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