Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where Are The Magglio Doubters Now?

During the 2006 season, I did a number of radio talk shows during which I defended Magglio Ordonez.
What I kept hearing that summer was how Ordonez isn’t a good clutch hitter and a liability defensively.
There were two reasons I didn’t buy into it: 1. Ordonez was easily the most productive hitter on a team that ultimately won 95 games and advanced to the World Series. 2. When he first arrived in Detroit and started in a long "0-for" slump, Ordonez was obviously hurting physically. One day Ivan Rodriguez called all the writers in the clubhouse at the time over to his locker and told us about it. Pudge talked about how Ordonez was trying to play, but just couldn’t because of what was eventually diagnosed as a sports hernia. "He is embarrassed," Pudge said. "He cares a lot. He is playing when he shouldn’t be playing because of pride."
Here is a guy who had a $72 million contract. And he wasn’t making excuses because, when he was asked about it, Ordonez wouldn’t mention his injuries. Like this season, he has played with an awfully bad foot ailment. He never talks about it. He just keeps hitting.
What a year, eh? The best I have ever seen a Tiger position player put together. I’m not old enough to remember Norm Cash in 1961. I did think Willie Horton’s season in 1968 was underrated considering how offensive production was down overall at the time, and Alan Trammell was brilliant in 1987. Cecil Fielder had a couple big years, too. But honestly, nothing has come close to Ordonez in 2007. He has been a model of consistency in every way.

Random Thoughts

- To me, the Lions’ chances of winning Sunday were reduced a great deal by the news Brian Griese is going to start at quarterback for the Bears. The Bears have their share of injury problems, particularly on defense, by the QB spot has been the real issue. Greise isn’t Peyton Manning, but he will manage that offense a lot better than Rex Grossman.

- Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy’s tirade was over the top and unnecessary, but did anybody read the column in question? To be honest, I don’t blame him for being upset. It was nonsensical. Nothing wrong with the kid having a strong relationship with his mother. And what was she doing with the chicken reference, calling the kid a chicken? That’s just wrong.

- I must confess. I have come around to the wild card situation. It sure has added fire to the National League pennant races.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Marty said...

Pat,

What happened with Oklahoma State? I haven't heard of anything, but it sounds interesting. Can you provide a link?

I think that the Lions could win this game. I'd give them a 50-50 chance. Chicago looks average, snd so does the Lions. I couldn't say which team is better this year.

Magglio is playing spectacularly. It makes you think he could put up a pretty good year next year as well; especially if his foot heals. I could see him get another year with a .330 average, 110 RBI's and 30 HR's; especially with the players around him in the lineup. Of course we got pretty lucky with Guillen being healthy through most of the year, but then the injury to Sheffield really hurt, so it may just be a wash there.

-Marty

12:23 PM 
Anonymous Andrew Winkle said...

Pat the Book,

Maggs is "The Man". No ifs, ands or buts about the fact. His year at the plate will probably never be repeated by a player wearing the Old English D. Unless, Hank Greenberg is reincarnated.

Then again, the same could be said about Curtis Granderson's offensive output this year. Except that the reincarnation would have to be Ty Cobb. Cobb reincarnated as an African-American. Talk about your ironic karma.

Too bad the national baseball media doesn't give these guys their due. Seems it's a foregone conclusion that A-Rod is the AL MVP. The person in Yankee pinstripes that is most deserving of a post season award is their manager. As outstanding a skipper as Joe Torre has been in prior seasons, I can't recall one that he had to navigate his team through with more adversity. Of course, the Angel's Mike Sciosa(sic) and the Indian's Eric Wedge deserve serious consideration. Just as Maggs deserves serious consideration for the MVP award.

As great as the NL races are this year, the AL races lack sizzle. I still wish that the powers that be in the MLB would have kept two divisions and added two wild cards coming from any division. Still wouldn't have made much difference this year in the AL. But the Tigers and Indians would be in the East and that I'd like to see.

1:11 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book,

Mags - I have never said a bad thing about Mags. My wife would leave me for Mags (there's a thought I should follow up on).

We have so many great stories this year - picking from Mags, Granderson's triples and his 20X4, Polonco's zero errors (so far) and Verlanders no-no and 18 wins.

There is a book to be written in there. Great characters.

But the tragedies of:
* losing Rogers
* the bullpen falling off a cliff
* Pudge & Inge slumps
* Sheffield's Shoulder

And the rest of the rotation not getting it done - with Bonderman saying way to late in the season his elbow is shot.

[deep sigh]

This has been the best of seasons and the worst of seasons - for sure.

But the numbers still say we're in it - for another night at least.

Many have said Grundy was over the top. I too read the article. And I then saw the rant on YouTube. His tirade was pure emotion - rage - and he couldn't hold it.

He was shaking.

And I admire him for it.

Yes, its sad he did in the post-game instead of talking about the kids - but he probably didn't want to lose the "nerve" - or the rage.

I'd play my ass of for a coach like him.

4:47 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
Go to youtube and type in Mike Gundy and it will pop up. The guy just went nuts. I think the Lions should have a good chance of winning this game, too. NFC Super Bowl losers often struggle the next season. The Bears seem to be no exception. They seem to miss Mike Brown, their safety, badly. I'd be suprised if there is huge dropoff for Mags next season,
Caputo

10:03 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Andrew Winkle,
Good point about the National League race. It is more close than interesting. None of those teams is a real draw - even the Mets. If I had an MVP vote, I would probably vote for A-Rod. As great as Mags' season has been, A-Rod's have been just a little better. And the Yanks are in the postseason.
Caputo

10:05 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
A lot of people are saying that about Gundy. I do wonder, though, whether he did that to focus the attention off himself onto the writer. The quarterback in question, Reid, was heavily recruited and put up big numbers last season. And Gundy was under fire because his team, particularly its defense, wasn't stopping anybody.
Caputo

10:08 AM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I personally was a fan of Ordonez before he came to Detroit. The whole offseason leading up to his signing I kept hoping we would sign. I had concern about the injury,if the club would be able to surround him with some talent so that he could be great. Like Frank THomas, Ventura and them were to him in Chicago. They did with Granderson, Polanco, Sheffield, and GUillen. SO for anybody having issues other then those typical ones is insane. The Tigers are done but I am extremely excited about this club going forward. I think this offseason is critical for this team. They need to make some additions/upgrades at a couple of spots to go with the great core group they already have. If they add a couple of Renteria, (Dear I say it A-Rod), Andruw JOnes type players to go a long with guys like Guillen, Mags, Granderson, and Polanco. they will prove they are in this for the long haul. Me hearing leyland wants to come back for a couple more years I think that is awesome I'd sign the extension right away. He is a great manager why let him go if he wants to stay. This team is so set in many ways.


I tell you what we haven't discussed Pistons in a while Book. There season is approaching here shortly. They still have some unanswered questions. What are they going to do about that front court? Are they locked in with this team as is. I don't see how they can be. I think it's great hearing about Maxiell, Amir, and the young guns getting some time finally. But it has to happen. They talked about it last year and Billups and Prince were still playing 40 some minutes. I tell you what I don't feel comfortable with Nazr Mohammad, and I still think they need to deal Flip Murray as we really don't need him. Personally I know we'd have to give up something to get him, but Shawn Marion wants out and that would be nice addition cause he brings a ton in terms of scoring and defense. if not I would like to see them maybe see what they can get from Minnesota. Maybe they could package next years 1st and 2nd along with Flip Murray and Nazr Mohammad for Al Jefferson. Long shot but why not. Minnesota don't need him.

10:44 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
I am very interested in see how the Pistons will do this season. I have to admit, I like what I have seen from Maxiell in the past, but he will have to add finesse (a jump shot) to his power game to become a regular contributor. I have no idea on Johnson, either. I believe the Pistons have a chance to get to the NBA finals again. More than most people.
Caputo

11:54 AM 
Blogger Scott (Thinking Man) said...

Hey Pat,

I haven't read the column in question, but I have heard enough about it to understand the general gist. However misguided the column was, no one deserves what the columnist got in the press conference. It was completely unprofessional on the coach's part. If he had a bone to pick with the reporter/columnist, he should have done it in private. Don't you think it's ironic that he's calling her out for attacking his player personally and yet he did exactly the same thing to her?

I don't agree that college players should be immune from criticism because they are "amateurs." First of all, Division I football is hardly amateur. Secondly, these are not "kids."

When I covered prep sports, I was always very careful to limit any criticism to the team in general. I even tried to minimize misplays, because these were kids and they were amateurs. The rules are different at the D-1 level. Does that mean reporters/columnists should jump into personal lives or imply that someone is a wussy? No, but anyone playing at that level should understand that they're not going to get kid-glove treatment from the press.

As for Maggs, I couldn't agree more. I was trying to think of Tigers that have had better years in my lifetime, and I couldn't come up with one. Trammell's 87 season was probably closest and Cecil's 90 campaign next.

One other thing I wanted to touch on, I think some folks in this town have lost perspective on the Tigers. I caught the last few minutes of Mike Stone's show yesterday, and he was basically saying the Tigers shouldn't use injuries as an excuse for missing the playoffs. Some of the calls that followed were ridiculous ... these people talked like the Tigers have lost 100 games this year.

We would have all killed for a 90-win season just a few years ago. And what team could have survived the injuries the Tigers have had? If you took A-Rod, Rivera and Andy Pettit from the Yankees lineup for 1/2 to 2/3rds of the season, where would they be? .500 - maybe? Or if you took Sabathia, Bentencourt and Hafner from the Indians for that same period, where would the Indians be?

I think the Tigers have played their asses off to do as well as they have.

1:02 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Scott (The Thinkingman),
I think the best way to handle that situation is to sit down with the person one-on-one and talk it out. I agree that he was insulting and there was a "two wrongs don't make a right" aspect that transpired. I also agree the Tigers played hard and had a number of serious injuries, but there is a long list of players who didn't perform as well as had been expected.
Caputo

5:26 PM 
Blogger Scott (Thinking Man) said...

Hi Pat,

I heard most of your show last night before the Wings. There is certainly an element of truth in what you were saying. Even with all of the Tigers injuries, had Jerry Bonderman not fallen apart, had Nate Robertson pitched more consistently and had Gary Sheffield produced even a little in the second half, the Tigers probably do make it to the playoffs this year. Brandon Inge is what he is ... I think 2006 was his career year.

For the life of me, I can't figure out Bonderman. How do you go 10-1 in the first half of the season and win one more game the rest of the way? Same guy, same pitches. What changed? I know hitters and teams make adjustments, but come on! In my opinion, there is no reason on God's green earth that Bonderman shouldn't win 15 games every year. He needs a consistent third pitch, obviously, but the biggest adjustment he has to make is between the ears. If he can't become a consistent winner, and I mean in 2008, it's time to go in a different direction. He's not a rookie anymore and not a kid in baseball terms. The Tigers won't make the playoffs next year if he doesn't turn it around.

P.S. Wonder if DD is kicking himself for letting Carlos Pena go? I'm glad to see him put it together. He seemed like a very nice young man.

8:35 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Scott (thinking man),
You know, I have taken this line that the Tigers had a good year, they overcame a lot of adversity, etc. without necessarily looking at the whole picture. I mean, they did have a lot of players - at least half the roster - who performed at varying levels below expectations. As for Pena, no, there are no regrets there. They gave him a big contract, put him there every day and he didn't produce. They had no choice. He has big time power and is a great kid, but on a winning team, I think he would struggle. Tampa Bay, where there is virtually no pressure at all, is the ideal situation for him. He is just not a money player.
Caputo

9:30 AM 

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