Monday, September 17, 2007

This Close-But-No-Cigar Stuff Ain't All Bad

This summer, more than any other I can remember, has reminded me just how extreme the Tigers have tended to be throughout their history, at least the part I can recall.
In most major league cities, they are used to their club being on the fringe of contention going down the stretch of the season, particularly during the wild card era.
But for most of the wild card era, the Tigers have been dreadful. In the National League, for example, there are five teams within 5 1-2 games of the wild card spot. Several of those teams are also involved in divisional races, which is also the case for this version of the Tigers in the American League.
I must admit, it presents an interesting dynamic. I got done taping my TV segments at FOX 2 Sunday night and was just standing there watching Derek Jeter hitting when he delivered that big home run. I went nuts, screaming, "Now that’s a ballplayer" and, "What a moment," when I noticed a couple Tiger fans that were watching with me were none too pleased at my reaction. It was the baseball purist in me. Nothing against the Tigers. I hadn’t even thought about them. I appreciated the great baseball moment - Jeter doing that to the Red Sox in Fenway Park again. But it was hurtful to Tiger fans. Because the Tigers have all of a sudden started winning, they and their fans are dreaming of overtaking the Yankees. Maybe even the Indians. A good week by the Tigers and this will get really interesting for the final week of the season.
But it hasn’t really been like this. The Tigers either jump way out in front of everybody, like in ‘68, ‘84 or last season, or are involved in a real tight race, like in ‘72, 87 and ‘88, or are done by September. They were on the fringes of contention in 2000, but that was mostly because the other teams were not stellar. The Tigers finished below .500 that year.
I must admit, it has made this month awfully enjoyable. Call me a little weird, but I have always liked September baseball, even when observing a couple teams out of the race. But I do like this better. Make that a lot better.

Random Thoughts

- Good thing for the Lions they won Sunday. They need to start winning some games because interest in the team is obviously down. They weren’t even sold out until the final stage of the process last week. And the club level seats, which for some odd reason don’t count on the attendance, were far less than half full. If it remains that way for the season, it will cost the Lions several million dollars in revenue. If the Lions win, though, they will become a hot ticket again - and quickly.

- Watching the Twins this weekend, it was evident why general manager Terry Ryan recently resigned. They just might be the worst hitting team in baseball right now. Maybe this is it, you know, the time when being a small market wonder had ended. It seems to have, instead, finally caught up with the Twins.

- If Placido Polanco doesn’t win a Gold Glove this season, then the process is a joke. Manager and coaches vote for the award. Polanco is easily the best-fielding second baseman in the American League.


Blogger Fred Brill said...


Last nights Yankees - Red Sox game had defining moment potential for 2 players - Jeter - who - as he always does - grasps the defining moment by the horns and plays it like a harp.

The other was Ortiz. Big Poppy let it slip away - with a big swing - swinging for the fences - when a base hit scores 1 to tie or 2 to win.

Jeter has been my favourite player for years. His only flaw is the jersy he wears.

And moments like last nights exposes the difference between the levels of great.

An even bigger series for threr Tigers now. The biggest of the season. Probably the biggest regular season series for the Tigers in the last 20 years.

I feel good about our chances. We just have to execute with urgency.

1:52 PM 
Anonymous Danny said...

Pat, it was a typical Captain Jeter moment, and we sorta laughed about it, but the whole series at Fenway was a coulda’ been. Tigers sweep and coulda’ gained 3 games. Then watching the bottom of the 9th last night in Boston, Sox coulda paid em’ back

Oh well, you are right about fans not being used to this. '84' was a once in a lifetime summer, probably not to return, but it WAS fun.


2:55 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
I hear you on the comparison of players. Big Poppy is not having the same type of season he has had in the recent past. Also, the situation with Manny Ramirez might make the Red Sox less formidible in the postseason. That's why it would be good for the Tigers to get into the thing again. They can compete with the teams that would be in it.

4:54 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

In 1984, it just seemed like the Tigers owned the baseball world, this town and everything else like no team before. It was incredibly special. The weird part is, they kind of turned out to be one-year wonders and none of their players apparently are going to Hall of Fame. I wouldn't have thought that back then, that's for sure.

4:56 PM 
Anonymous Bryan152 said...

The Red Sox certainly aren't doing their part to help the Tigers. Schilling conceded to Jeter there with a hanging BB that was ripe for a moonshot over the Green Monster. I understand that he didn't want to walk Jeter with the dangerous Abreu on-deck -- I guess I just feel like it was Francona's job to go and get the veteran (low pitch count aside) and bring in Okajima or Papelbon with the score tied at 1.

On the plus side, Rivera seems to have lost his magic touch which means the Yankees don't have for sure wins with 1-run leads going into the ninth.

Oh and how about Lowell finally putting a blemish on Chamberlain's record with a home run in the 8th. A 99 MPH heater at the letters and he put it over the Green Monster. Chamberlain is the 2007 Joel Zumaya.

Tigers will sweep the Indians this series. They seem possessed. Look out for KC this weekend though. They've got nothing to lose and everything to spoil.

6:34 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Wink said...

Pat the Book,

Just heard Double D call Blake's walk off. Ouch! Yet even though the season may end in Chitown in September, this has been a wonderful season following the Tigers ups and downs.

After a dozen losing seasons, which seemed like half of those ending in triple digit losses, this year and last have been so good to this long time Tiger fan. I must confess that I have spent more time and attention these last two seasons then the prior dozen. When the home boys aren't in even in sniffing distance of .500 ball, I may turn on the game yet fail to tune into the actual play.

Kenny Rogers performance tonight should not be forgotten in this appropriate loss for this season. Opportunity lost. Kenny and Pudge both need to be back next year for this team to compete again.

Fred Brill is right, the only problem with Jeter is the uniform he wears. Damn him, he's just that good.

Polanco and Granderson should win Gold Gloves. But with the plethora of outstanding CFs in the AL, one could fathom how Curtis could get the shaft. Placido should be a no-brainer for the Gold Glove, like Trammell, Whitaker and especially, Jack Morris should be in the HOF. Not that I want every Tom, Dick and Harry enshrined at Cooperstown, just, Jack, Sweet Lou, and Tram.

I've come to believe that the bar is set too high for the HOF. Higher than even Marty Morningweg could comprehend while blowing it in the wind.

11:31 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I have thought about this a lot lately. It just seems like since the wild card has come into the play the Yankees are autmatically destined to get into the postseason. It would be a lot easier for the Tigers if they were in the National League. I am not sure if any of the teams in that league are better than they are. The Red Sox sure get weird when the Yankees press them.

11:44 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Wink,
What happened to open the Cleveland series might have been the straw that breaks the camel's back. But it sure has been an interesting season. The Tigers will have a great shot next season, regardless of how this plays out. I think Granderson should get the Gold Glove, too.

11:46 PM 
Blogger Scott (Thinking Man) said...

Hey Pat,

Yeah, I agree with you about the Twins. Hunter is leaving this year and, if they don't trade him, Santana will be gone next year. Besides Mauer, Morneau and Lirano, if he comes back ok, the Twins have nothing - at least in the field. I like Baker and Garza, but you've got to be able to score a few runs. I actually think the Royals are on the way up. I think the White Sox will bounce back next year, too.

One thing I want to say about the Tigers, I'm really proud of them. I know that may sound a bit corny, but I am. These guys play their asses off every day and they play the game the right way. The only thing that has derailed them this year is injuries. I fully believe that with a healthy Rogers, Sheffield and Zumaya all season, the Tigers would be leading the Division comfortably over the Indians.

5:26 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Scott (thinking man),
The division should be weaker. The White Sox have a lot of premier players, too many to be as bad as they were this season, but some of them seem to be moving past their prime (Thome, Dye, Kornerko). I see it as the Tigers and Tribe next season as well.

7:58 PM 

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