The Clinch: Playoffs

The Tigers have secured their first playoff birth since 1987. I was 13 when the Tigers last sniffed the post season so this is a first in my adult life – and yet I feel like a kid!

Congratulations everyone! Players, Scouts, Coaches, Front Office Folks, Fans, Bloggers, Everyone!

Special congratulations go out to the following players:
Brandon Inge
Ramon Santiago
Craig Monroe
omar Infante
Jeremy Bonderman
Mike Maroth
Jamie Walker
Fernando Rodney
Wilfredo Ledezma
Nate Robertson

That was the worst of times, and here’s hoping for the best of times.

The story isn’t complete, but the first chapter is. Now let’s nail down the division.

45 thoughts on “The Clinch: Playoffs”

  1. What are these playoffs you speak of? I have never known of them before…

    Congrats to everyone involved with the Detroit Tigers organization, especially GM Dave Dombrowski for having the dream, as well as the young players who suffered through previous years with us.

  2. We all knew it was going to happen, of course — leaving that scary month of August out of it! — but I’m still surprised at how good it feels. I’m sorta emotional right now.

    I was thirteen, too. I remember watching that last game on TV at a friend’s birthday party. (He was a Dodger fan. Loser.)

  3. I was 24 in 1987. It was a lousy playoff for the Tigers but that penant race was some of the best baseball I’ve ever seen. I think they used up all their energy just getting to the playoffs. I had no idea it would take 19 years before I saw them clinch again. I cried a little in the final inning today.

  4. Not the great clinching game that we got in ’87 (that classic 1-0 win behind Herndon’s HR and Tanana’s pitching), but it’s a great great moment for our franchise.

    Now, let’s get the rotation stacked and the lineup set for round 1, whoever the opponent.

  5. It didn’t really hit me until today. Great day in Tigers history. Now it’s time to put an exclaimation and try and get the division and home field!

  6. I remember a couple years ago, being so psyched when the Tigers won three of their last four (or something like that?) to avoid the 120 loss season.

    I like this better:)

  7. Last time the Tigers clinched a playoff spot…I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 14 and had just moved to Ohio from the Detroit area. This was before Jacobs Field was built and “baseball’s greatest fans” hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon yet. So I watched the game all by myself since nobody around me cared about baseball. The NFL was also on strike that week. That 1-0 game was intense. Best game in my opinion that I ever watched (see who needs home runs). Who knew on that day that would be the last time the Tigers would make the post season for 19 years?

  8. Great that they made the playoffs, but I hope they aren’t too happy just being there. I remember back in ’95 when the Wings first made the Stanley Cup finals against NJ. They, and everybody in town, seemed happy enough just making it there, and then promptly got swept.

  9. >>That 1-0 game was intense. Best game in my opinion that I ever watched (see who needs home runs).

    Kevin, don’t forget — the only run was a solo shot by Larry Herndon!

    Loved reading yours, and other peoples’, memories of the 87 clincher. Mine: that was the first weekend of my first year away at college in California, the first time I’d been away from home for any significant time. As exciting as that was, there was a little edge of homesickness too, but I didn’t feel like I was caving to call home about the game. I vividly remember standing in the pay phone booth in the lobby calling my dad to hear the final score of the game, and being so happy for the result but also how bittersweet it felt to not be there. (This was, of course, in the dark ages before nationwide roaming cell phones and perpetual score crawls on every channel…)

    I still can’t believe it’s been 19 years since then — what a great ride this season has been, and I hope everyone takes fond memories away from it no matter what happens over the next few (hopefully 5) weeks.

  10. This is amazing. Play Offs. When I was a kid, I always wondered, who are those lucky people who actually get to see the Tigers in the play offs at the ball park? Seemed like such an impossible ticket to get. Well, young Charly Streetgang, you are one of those lucky people. Can’t wait.

  11. I was 15 in ’87. And was attending high school in Minneapolis. Not exactly the place you wanted to be as a Tigers fan during the playoffs that year. This puts a lot in perspective for me (from ESPN):

    “Verlander, 4 years old when the Tigers last went to the playoffs, allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.”

    Not only am I feeling a bit old, but I’m hoping for some sweet revenge against the Twins and their fans in the coming weeks. Go Tigers!

  12. Well said Nick! I was 20 in 1987, and I remember watching that last game at Toronto at a relative’s house. What a high, then what a crash when the Tigs were knocked out so handily by the Twins. Sweet, sweet revenge!

    I’ve been hoping for a season like this for years, so I could share it with my kids the way my dad shared ’87 and (especially) ’84 with me.

  13. As for me, I was 15 in ’84, and in college in ’87 — and remember thinking there was no reason for that kind of success to end anytime soon.

    Since then, I graduated, got married, moved away, moved further away, moved back, got season tickets, had kids, personally sat through 82 games in ’03, and now live 1 block from Comerica Park — home of the Tigers! (formerly known as Loser Lane)

    I shed tears today as many of you did. Unreal.

    And, as stated above, thanks to the owners and regulars of this site — one of the very few I regularly read. Let’s enjoy every minute!!

  14. True…I do remember Larry Herndon, who was largely a role player by ’87, hit that homer…I meant who needs the football score slugfests for drama in a baseball game.

    I actually remember not being as into the playoffs that year because the regular season was just intense that year for the Tigers. Definitely different than 1984 where the Tigers coasted to the playoffs. That series with Toronto in 1987 was like a division series playoff for the Tigers.

    As Tater said above, this was long before ESPN was in every household and the internet was used by the military and universities only. The only way to know what happened was to listen to the radio and occasionally see the Tigers on TV. Living in suburban Cleveland at the time, the only reason I think I got to see that particular game on TV was because of the NFL strike that weekend so NBC carried it nationally. They were also the Saturday game of the week, so I got to see the last two games.

    Keep the stories coming from that Toronto-Detroit game, I am enjoying reading these. Personally, I had moved to the Cleveland area in August 1987 due to my dad switching jobs and it seemed weird to me that no one cared about baseball. I didn’t get to enjoy ’87 playoffs with a large group of people as I did in 1984. Eventually I went to college at BGSU, I got to listen to obnoxious Indians fans a few years later in the 1990s when they woke from their baseball coma rip on me for being a Tigers fan. I stuck with the Tigers through the Randy Smith era, even making a point to drive up for a game or two every year, and this is great to see them back in it again. Unfortunatly, I haven’t had time to make it up to a game this year in person. I am looking forward to getting no sleep for the next few weeks watching every pitch of the playoffs.

    Bring on the A’s, Yankees, and Mets!!!!

  15. I have been quiet the last few weeks just watching and believing. I was on my honeymoon 19 years ago when the Tigers last made the playoffs. In those 19 years, I have moved to the West Coast, lost both my parents, had three daughters(all crowded around the computer watching them clinch today.) had many ups and downs. I love the Tigers, mostly because it is a direct connection with my childhood, and many many fond memories. Even in defeat I have always felt that the English D was worn with Pride.

    I too would like to congratulate the guys who were part of the down years. But my best wishes go out to all the guys that are new and have been a part of what is now. I even take pause to think of Dimitri and what must be going on with him. This is a family and I believe these guys are going to make things happen.

    Sock it to em Tigers……

  16. I just looked at the boxscore of that game in 1987….some interesting stats…Frank Tanana vs. Jimmy Key, both pitchers pitched a complete game. The Tigers only got three hits, 2 by Lou Whitaker, and the home run by Larry Herndon. Frank Tanana gave up 6 hits, two of those to Charlie Moore and one to future Tiger great Cecil Fielder, who was immediately caught attempting to steal 2nd base. He wouldn’t get a stolen base in the majors until 1996, 9 years later. Thank god he got caught stealing that base though, since the next batter, Manuel Lee got a triple. Perhaps this was Cecil’s greatest moment for the Tigers? Both pitchers gave up three walks, Tanana got 9 Ks, Key had 8Ks.

    Starting Lineups for both teams:
    Nelson Liriano, 2B
    Lloyd Moseby, CF
    George Bell, LF
    Juan Beniquez, DH
    Jesse Barfield, RF
    Cecil Fielder, 1B
    Manuel Lee, SS
    Garth Iorg, 3B
    Charlie Moore, C
    interesting thing is that the Jays didn’t use Fred McGriff or Ernie Whitt in this game, the usual starters that year at 1st and catcher

    Lou Whitaker, 2B
    Bill Madlock, DH
    Kirk Gibson, LF
    Alan Trammell, SS
    Larry Herndon, RF
    Chet Lemon, CF
    Darrell Evans, 1B
    Jim Morrison, 3B
    Mike Heath, C

    Scott Lusader was brought in as a defensive replacement for Larry Herndon, and Jim Walewander was brought in for defense for the Lizard King. The home run came in the 2nd inning….I actually remember that because I was actually hoping the Tigers got out in every inning after that to get the game over with ASAP. Remember I was an impatient 14 year old and wanted that division title immediately.

  17. One more thing and I am going to bed…to show how intense that last series was in 1987, the scores of the last three games were 4-3, 3-2 in 12 innings, and 1-0 all won by the Tigers.

  18. Been a tiger fan since 51′.Seen the 68′ Tigers come back against the Cardinals. Listened to the games while in the Phillipines.In 84′ it was Gibby and the boys.I truly feel this is their year again.I now live about three miles from Shea stadium.The Tigers are coming to the big apple twice in October and leaving with the trophy.I can’t wait to read about it in the N.Y. Post.

  19. — one more thing and I am going to bed…to show how intense that last series was in 1987, the scores of the last three games were 4-3, 3-2 in 12 innings, and 1-0 all won by the Tigers.

    …and crikey was that 12 inning game a nail-biter! Remember this? One out and bases loaded, Trammell drills one between the shortstop’s legs?

  20. Once a Tigers fan, always a Tigers fan.

    I grew up watching the Tigers, went to my first game in ’68, enjoyed the wonderful heady days of the 80s.

    Today? I live three miles from Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, and for the first time in eight years of going to crappy Royals games, I REALLY had something to cheer about – my favorite team clinched it right down the road. Today was a great day.

    You all should know that we were there. Not enough to overwhelm the surly Royals fans, bidding farewell to Runelvys Hernandez and begging Mike Sweeney to retire now, but there were indeed some Tigers fans there – some, like me, live in town, but I think there were a few out-of-towners there.

    Oh, and we all knew today was the day (I went Friday, but missed Saturday’s “Fan Appreciation Day” laugher).

    It was a pretty sparse house (10,000) but we managed to make a fair amount of noise, and as the game ended we gathered around the Tigers dugout to holler, to cheer, to say: NOW, ALL THE WAY.

    I know the locals would have liked it to happen in Comerica, but today was like Christmas for a few of us really lucky Tiger fans who found themselves in Kansas City today.

    p.s. the team heard us!

  21. I remember that clinch game in ’87 as well. I was 22 and home from Grand Valley (#1 Divison II, this year by the way). The entire family was watching in the living room (even my grandmother), except for me; I was pulling an Al Kaline and leaving the room every few minutes.

    I always felt that game was the Tigers’ World Series that year.

    AND Trammel was ROBBED of the MVP!!!!!!

  22. Playoffs!!!! Playoffs!!!! I can’t believe it. I have to admit that I was worried, but the Tigers held on. Now, lets win the division.

    Big ups to Jeremy Bonderman. He lost 19 games on that horrible team, and playing for the Tigers then, he must of thought that he did something bad in his past lifetime or somethin, but his patience and perseverence paid off.

    Big ups to Pudge. When he sounded off about he came here and wanted to win, and he was upset at how the Tigers traded away the whole bull pen last year, he was voicing the frustration of every Tigers fan. We want to win!!!

    Big ups to Leyland. We were so lucky to get him. His straight no-nonsense attitude is exactly what this young team needed. He just tells things the way they are, and the young team reacted well.

    Finally big ups to the unsung hero in my opinion…Curtis Granderson. To me, him and Verlander are the signs of this new Tigers team. He’s hitting lead off, basically a rookie, and helped this team make the playoffs. I’m not sayin hes the best center fielder, but I am saying that he is a reminder of how important perseverence and dedication are, and it doesn’t matter how young you are or how many games you lost, today is today, and you can be a difference maker, or clinch the playoffs after an 18 year drought, if you put your mind to it.

    Go Tigers!!!! I bet somewhere Alan Trammell is smiling

  23. Anne, I just got off the phone with my dad who was born in 1942 in Detroit. Technically, the Tigers have won three titles in his lifetime.

    But, this was special for us because I told him that not too long ago (four or five years ago) it crossed my mind that we would never be able to get as excited about the Tigs as we did together in ’84 and ’87. No matter what happens this year, I’m really glad that we’re able to share this excitement again. He’s wearing his “Made in Detroit” gear and everything.

    Billfer, no big deal if you take down the link, I just think it’s pretty wild that my old man wears gear from this pretty young style clothing manufacturer. Go Tigers!!!!!!!!

  24. Is there any sport that’s about fathers and sons (and I guess fathers and daughters too) the way baseball is? My 12 year old son is even more passionate about the Tigers than I am so this season has been a joy for us both. It’s great that you and your dad are enjoying this together, Nick.

    I read this quote from Leyland this morning on Yahoo sports:
    “You can’t forget Alan Trammell and his staff,” Leyland said. “My staff got to cut the yellow ribbon, but everybody else did the work.”

    A classy thing to say.

  25. Thank you everyone for chiming in with your memories and personal stories. This is fast becoming my favorite post of the season.

  26. Thanks to Billfer for providing the site and analysis.

    Thanks to Ron and cc for making sure I’m not the oldest reader of the site.

    In addition to all the other great comments, I’m happy for Al Kaline, who wanted to live long enough to see the Tigers in another pennant race. Now I hope he sees another World Series win.

  27. Wow. Wow. Wow.

    Who knew how much goodwill one good year would generate with this longtime Tigers’ fan? I am still in shock and disbelief even though I firmly believed that the Tigers would make the playoffs.

    When the championships and playoff appearances are too few and far between it makes them that much sweeter. When the Tigers open up the playoffs it should be declared a Statewide Holiday.


  28. Kicking myself for not going to Vegas and Putting down $1,000 on the tigers making the playoffs last January. I could have retired…

    What a season . . Great job to the players that stood up and actually played better this year. (Robertson, Maroth, Monroe, Wilson, etc.) When you can improved your team with out having to trade or draft for it, that is the key to success (Lions/Millen are you listening.)

    Kudos to DD, who would have thunk that signing “The Gambler” would have paid off so big. He was killer this august when the rest of the team needed him. Mags and Pudge – Seemed like frivious signings to some extent untill this year when it worked. (not prefectly – but well enough)

    I was a Frosh in High School in 1987, and have no great memories of the 1987 season, but as a kid you don’t understand that these moments come ony so often. I was 3 years removed from the World Series -“Tigers will always be good won’t they”.

    For me this season has been the best since 1984, and in some cases sweeter as I now understand in my heart what kind of magic we have seen.

  29. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the end of the game. It was well in hand, 9-1 I think, when I left for my softball game. We got our butts whipped, but I didn’t care. After the game when you slap hands with the other team, all the players from both sides were saying “Go Tigers.”

  30. I wonder if anyone noticed that the players Billfer listed were the ones that played in 2003?

    You know what, I take that back. I’m impressed with the baseball passion everone here brings. I’m sure EVERYONE noticed.

  31. I think it was about 2 or 3 weeks ago I posted that the bats would get well against all this lower-tier pitching. I said they would win the division and go into the playoffs with confidence high.

    Thanks for pointing out that we (yes, WE) regained the best record in baseball. I would not have noticed. It’s going to take double sweeps to get to 100 wins though. The Mets and Yankees both have to wil their last 7 to get to 100 wins.

    Q: When was the last time no team in the majors won 100 games?
    A: 2000 when SF lead with 97-65.

  32. I know he’s not here now, but making the playoffs made me think of Bobby Higginson, who endured more than anyone and remained an exemplary Tiger throughout. Sentimental times I guess.

  33. This is my first post here–I have been following the site since April.

    I grew up (and still live) in Birmingham, AL and watched Tiger farmhands come thru the Montgomery and Birmingham teams for years, and I have been a fan since I was 10 or so–I am 38 now. I celebrated like crazy in 1984. In 1987 I snuck out of pledge duty at my fraternity house at the University of Alabama to watch the finale against Toronto. Suffered during the 1988 late-season collapse, and in the years that followed.

    I wasn’t sure if when this day would come again. I have watched Game 5 from the ’84 series so many times that my tape is almost worn out.–Congrats to the team!

    PS–thanks to Bilfer for this site. Tough to get much Tiger coverage down here in Braves country, so I really enjoy reading everyone’s comments.

  34. REVENGE! ’87 is very apt. I want revenge on the Twins for winning a series thanks to a bull**** dome. Nothing gave me greater joy this year than taking a road trip to Minny at the end of July to see our Kitties beat the Twinkies and I promptly removed all beer from my system on the Metrodome wall. Gleefully I said “Dan Gladden and Tom Kelly, this Bud’s for YOU!”… The homer Hankies can’t help them now! I want us to meet Minny for the AL Crown!

  35. Can someone explain to me why Alan Trammell wasn’t the MVP in 1987???????????????

    My two cents on this…I remember a pregame show before the Saturday game of the week when George Bell and Alan Trammell were standing side by side being interviewed. The question was asked who should be the MVP. Trammell was being humble and said Bell deserved it and gave reasons why. Bell said in broken english that Trammell deserved it and since he had a language barrier, that was all he said. It makes me wonder if that interview gave Bell the MVP.

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