Monday, August 13, 2007

Tigers Back On Top Of The World

Sparky Anderson used to have a sign in his office about the world turning over every 24 hours on the people sitting atop of it. It was certainly apropos about baseball.
There are a zillion and one things to love about the game, but near the top of the list has to be the beauty of a pennant race. Every day is about ups and downs that leave you on the edge of your seat. Look at the Tigers. Count me among those who were about to leave them for dead at the side of road as recently as Friday night when they lost that weird game to Oakland. They did look bad. And for an extended period. There didn’t appear much Jim Leyland could do to pull them out of it. A couple days later, the Tigers were back in first place, and all is well again.
Of course, there could be a turn for the worse on the horizon. The Yankees are lurking for eight games in 12 days against the Tigers starting later this week. Then again, it could be a good thing is the Tigers beat them. It’s just the nature of a pennant race.
There are reasons the Tigers played better the last couple days. Magglio Ordonez stepped forward and re-established himself as an MVP candidate. Justin Verlander gave the Tigers the solid start they needed. Yorman Bazardo and Aquilino Lopez came up from Triple-A and threw very well. Fernando Rodney appears to be back on track, hitting 97 mph on the radar gun. Oh, and don’t forget Marcus Thames. We always seem to overlook him, but Thames has became a very important player for the Tigers. He homered off Dan Haren Saturday night. That says a lot about Thames right there.
Mostly, though, I think the Tigers have the Cleveland Indians to thank for surviving their lull. Last season such a swoon cost the Red Sox the playoffs because the Yankees weren’t nearly as forgiving in the American League East. The Tigers are on pace to win about 90 games. And given the struggles of The Tribe, particularly their bullpen of late, 90 wins just might be enough for the Tigers to win the A.L. Central.

Random Thoughts

- Tiger Woods was typically methodical while winning the PGA Championship over the weekend. He is incredible. I just wish there was a golfer or two that would step into the fray and really test Woods. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of competitive character among those chasing him - particularly from Phil Mickelson.

- I honestly don’t know how excited fans should be about Cameron Maybin hitting three home runs during his first three games after being called up to Double-A Erie. The ball park in Erie is small. Those games were played in Erie. Maybin’s power numbers figure to rise dramatically because of that. The ball parks in West Michigan and Lakeland are very spacious. However, I wouldn’t dismiss this kid in any way, shape or form. He is a special talent with a Curtis Granderson-like attitude and work ethic. He just might fly through Double-A and give the Tigers a lift if he were called up in September. The question is, would it be worth getting his service time clock started already? Helping Maybin’s cause is the way Justin Upton has sparked the Diamondbacks since he was called up to the majors. And Upton is even younger than the 20-year-old Maybin.

- Placido Polanco’s major league-record consecutive game errorless streak for second basemen is even more impressive considering his range. He seems to get to everything, particularly balls hit to his glove side.


Anonymous dave from windsor said...

hey pat - greetings from a loyal listener/reader stuck in London, England for six weeks this summer.. thanks for keeping me in the loop re: the pennant race thru your blogs and articles.. surprisingly i caught a tigers game on english tv last week (they play one mlb game a week), unfortunately it was one of their dreadful west coast losses so it wasn't that uplifting to watch -- it also started at 3am our time .. lol.. ;-) .. looking forward to getting back to motown at the end of the month for the rest of the pennant race .. go tigers! //dave from windsor

12:07 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, right on about the beauty of the pennant race! Things change so quickly. I was at the bizarre Friday game was - nobody could stop nobody.

I look forward to the next two weeks. Tigers have proven they can beat the good teams. They lost a lot to a bunch of bad teams. The opposition isn't the problem. When they're right they’re right.

Loved Verlander getting a little man and mad. Showed some guts out there. He even looked mad leaving the mound when he gave up the two dink hits in the 7th. Nice to see some emotion on the mound. Need to see Bonderman step up in his next two as well.

The next two weeks should be fun. Maybe in September they will be at full strength for the September run.

(Thanks for the clarification on what you meant about Bonderman’s stuff.)


12:12 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Dave from Windsor,
Thanks for writing and the compliment. Seems like there will quite a pennant race waiting when you return. The Tigers just seemingly got better in a hurry.

1:27 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Verlander has proven he has a lot of bulldog in him. It will be interesting to see how the pitching matchups go in Cleveland. Bonderman has been terrible lately and the Tigers have to fill in the starting spot Wednesday. Cleveland is pitching Sabathia and Carmona. That could make things interesting in Cleveland - as bad as the Indians have played.

1:32 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree about Tiger. What amazes me is he won by only two strokes. Four consequetive rounds on a tough narrow course and all that seperates the winner and runner up are two lousy strokes. Woody Austin? Is he even on the horizon? Yet it felt like Tigers lead was insurmountable, no matter who was in striking distance.


Talk about a crazy game.

3:17 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I would feel alot better about being back on top if it were not for the reason that Cleveland is losing more games than us.

But yeah, this weekend with Oakland was a glimpse at what they should be.

What I really think will be interesting is this series with Cleveland. Can either team get pumped up to beat the other?

I agree about Tiger Woods not having comeptition. I wish the networks would just stop covering Mickelson. A couple years ago you had Vijay Singh as the threat - but you can only stay at Wood's level so long. Our not-quite-Canadian Stephen Ames showed what happens to most when paired in final twosome with Woods. That to me is the story - how competition crumples when paired in final 2 with Tiger on Sunday.

Looking forward to Maybin up here, and to your pod-cast? Any word yet when you will be diving in to pod-casting?

5:04 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
It depends on how you look at it. Some years and in some situations, the Tigers would be done right now. At least they still have a fighting chance because of the Indians struggles. The podcasts are close. Details soon.

6:48 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Woody Austin is the classic Buick Open champion - in the years Tiger and Vijay Singh don't play.

6:49 PM 
Anonymous chief said...

Awful game tonight, El Libro. Once again, the starting pitching/Grilli were awful. But the Tigers have signed Porcello to a deal($7.3 Million). Did they overpay?

11:42 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't know if "worth it" is the way to phrase it. To me it's a gamble. High school pitchers with great talent are rolls of the dice. Their upside can be extraordinary. This kid has that kind of upside. But injuries and all the trappings are there which could make the investment not worth it. Look at the last kid to get this kind of money - Josh Beckett. No Josh Beckett, no World Series for the 2003 Marlins. Yet, look how many times he has broken down. But how much of a gamble is it? Look how much it costs to sign a free agent starter? And those are gambles, too.

12:21 AM 
Anonymous dave from windsor said...

Pat - couldn't help but pass along this article from the Sacramento Bee re: Mike Williams praising Mike Martz as the one who snapped him out of his "being a punk" phase... pretty interesting read for those of us who endured the Mike Williams years in Detroit..

LINK -->

Go Tigers!

9:31 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Dave from Windsor,
Williams did catch a touchdown pass in the red zone in the Raiders first preseason game - the type of players the Lions expected from him. Thanks for passing it a long. I will check out the article.

10:24 AM 

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