Sunday, September 24, 2006
Tigers Clinch Post-Season Berth !!!!!!
The last two Sundays I've wrote at length about the ineptitude of the Lions, how depressing it was to watch them lose week after week in person and on the television, and how everything was exasperated by the Tigers struggles over the season's second half and a quickly diminishing lead to their A.L. Central rival in Minnesota and Chicago. Well this Sunday was much different. Sure the Lions still suck and I wasted another afternoon at Ford Field to witness the NFC North pillow fight against the Packers for the title of shittiest team in the NFL, but it was still a glorious, magnificent, triumphant Sunday, ranking up there among the Resurrection and that one Sunday I found a Snickers bar in my glove compartment when there was no food at my apartment, as the Tigers clinched a playoff spot for the first time that I can consciously remember.
It was amazing to see the team pour onto the field, exchange high fives and embrace each other as the coaches shook each others hands and smiled over a job well done before disappearing into the locker room and pouring each other with champagne. I had seen this type scene unfold with each other team I've followed closely over the course of my lifetime, especially with the Pistons over the past few years and, amazingly, even with Lions going back to the Wayne Fontes days when they used to occasionally win division titles, but I had never witnessed it with the Tigers. Baseball was my initial love in sports and the Tigers were the first team I followed passionately, going as far as mimicking Mickey Tettleton's swing, to the chagrin of my Little League coach, and naming my website and devoting time that I really don't have right now into writing about them and watching all their games on T.V. As I've chronicled over the course of this website the time that I've been a Tigers fan has been during the darkest most depressing days in the franchise's 100+ year history. I've already listed, numerous times on this site, the long line of has-beens and hanger-ons who have passed through Detroit (Steve Avery, Ben Petrick, etc.), free agent disasters (Craig Paquette, Al Levine, etc.), the overpaid, malcontent "stars" who always underperformed (Juan Gonzalez, Bobby Higginson, Dean Palmer) who have tried to crush my, and fellow Detroiters spirit and will to follow and believe in this team and the game of baseball. But they couldn't, and with today's victory those names all become ghosts of a past that already seems to ages old. I really do believe that this is the beginning of a new and glorious era for the Tigers, reminiscent to their success in the 80's with a group of solid, if not spectacular young players, (Verlander, Bonderman, Zumaya, Granderson, etc.), good veteran players (Maggs, Guillen, Pudge, and the Gambler), and solid role (I don't mean to demean these guys by calling them "role" players, they are very important roles) players entering their prime to fill out the lineup and bench (Monroe, Inge, Thames) overseen by an executive who knows what the hell he's doing, the incomparable Matt Millen.......errr I mean Dave Dombrowski. To have gone through everything this team has put us through over the past 12 years, the players I've listed above, the 119 loss season, the numerous other 100 loss seasons, Mike Ilitch firing Ernie Harwell, has only made this season's success that much sweeter, and made the celebratory scene on the field in Kansas City that much more gratifying. A few more points.
1: I'm so glad Bobby Higginson isn't here to enjoy this. The more I think about it I think he is personally responsible for everything thats gone wrong over the past decade. I know that's crazy and he wasn't the entire problem, hell he wasn't even 1 % of the problem, but he'll always be the face of the franchise for me during the Dark Ages. I'm also glad for the young players who went through that 119 loss season and are still with the team, especially the pitchers who got their brains beaten out playing for a team that never had a chance to win, so congratulations to Maroth, Bonderman, Inge, Monroe, Infante, and Nate Cornejo wherever the hell you are.
2: It's hard to pick a team MVP on a squad that is so deep and had so many players having very good seasons, without one standing out with a career year/outstanding performance, but I have to pick Carlos Guillen. Sure his fielding was a little sloppy at times, but he was our best and most consistent hitter over this grueling season, picked up the team during its second half struggles with good at bats and timely hitting and a quiet confidence that seemed to be infectious. I hope the Tigers do the right thing and extend him to stay in Detroit for a few more years after his contract runs out next season. We wouldn't be the same team without him.
3: Is there any question that Jim Leyland is the manager of the year. Any doubt at all. Maybe manager of the century. Seriously they should hand him the award for the next three years because of the amazing job he did this year, eradicating years of stink from losing in the clubhouse with the rich, flavorful, fulfilling scent of tobacco. Better yet they should just rename the manager of the year award the Jim Leyland Memorial Trophy, I dont care if he's not dead yet.
Finally, I just wanted to finish this post by stating how much I've enjoyed watching, supporting, and writing about this season's Tigers team and would like to thank anyone and everyone who visited this site and read my words about this team and this season and care just as passionately about this team as I do, and I'm so happy that I'll be able to continue to write about this team going forward into October for the first time in my life. Now about those damn Lions.........