Did anyone really expect the Tigers to top the atmosphere that took place when they beat the Yankees? Sure, winning the ALCS is a bigger deal. But it’s hard to top beating the Yankees not to mention the celebration for the ages. Enter the tie game and walk off homer.
This game was the only part of the series that was close. Today marked the first time in the series that the A’s came to bat in any inning with a lead. The Tigers out hit, out pitched, and out defended the A’s. Like in the Yankees series, the Tigers appeared to be very prepared knowing exactly what would be coming at them. Of course getting key hit after key hit and double play after double play helps with that perception.
Am I surprised that the Tigers so soundly defeated the A’s. Yes and no. This team was consistently awesome the first 2/3 of the season so of course this type of performance was possible. But I am suprised that it all came together for 7 straight games.
Now the Tigers have a one week vacation, so everyone should be rested. Joel Zumaya should probably be available and Sean Casey said he was feeling better when interviewed after the game. Also, the rotation can be set in any order that Leyland prefers. Everyone will be on extended rest, even if Bonderman were to start game 1 (which might not be a bad idea).
Things of a celebratory nature
My 4 favorite elements of the walk off were:
1. The shot of Dave Dombrowski yelling “get out, get out , get out” and jumping around just like every other fan in the city.
2. Todd Jones running back like he was going to make a play on the ball in the bullpen
3. Placido Polanco incapable of running like a regular human being and doing this goofy skip step around the bases.
4. The expression on Craig Monroe’s face as he touched 3rd. It’s like it hit him at exactly that moment he was going to the World Series.
I’m sure videos will be popping up all over the place within a few hours. If I come across any, I’ll post them. Also, keep an eye out on MLB.tv. The other clinching games have been available for download for free and hopefully they’ll do the same this time.
What others are saying
They deserved to be American League champions. They were the best team.
The Tigers fell apart at the end of the regular season, but they were without Placido Polanco for most of it, so we’ll forgive them for that. The dropoff from Polanco to Neifi Perez–it’s about as big as the dropoff from Mark Ellis to D’Angelo Jimenez.
In hindsight, the A’s never really had a chance in this series. They have absolutely no clue how to hit Kenny Rogers and absolutely no clue how to get Placido Polanco out. Every decision Leyland farted out there would be turned to gold by overachieving players, excellent ones and mediocre ones alike, and the few mistakes Ken Macha made would be compounded by his players’ inability to make him look good.
That time is here, tied to the arc of a majestic home run, tied together by players and management and coaches who weren’t supposed to get this far. Just like that, all deficits are erased. Out of nowhere, the Tigers are headed to the World Series, launched there by an unforgettable swing, and so much more.
Ilitch tried to do things on the cheap and you cannot do that in baseball. This is an animal that demands prime rib every day of the year.
He finally said enough is enough. But let me tell you, Ilitch was not going to throw money into a bottomless pit. He did not have enough faith in former General Manager Randy Smith to do that. But he had faith in Dombrowski, who had built a winner in Florida. He is a good president but Dombrowski is no miracle worker. If you give him decent numbers to work with, then Dombrowski can bring you a winner. If you don’t, then he is just like anybody else, shuffling talent back and forth looking for a miracle.
Unlike those other playoff years, this one was different. This was all they could do, this was as far as they could go, this time they lost to a team they simply weren’t going to beat. There is at least some comfort in that.
This is the same team that had not had a winning season in 13 years; the team that had lost 119 games 3 years ago; the team that had lost over 400 games over the past 4 years. Even their most optimistic fans doubted they would be anywhere near post-season this year. A .500 season would have been good for most. Then, after an amazing 76-36 start, they stumbled down the stretch and the whole nation doubted them again. Nobody gave them a chance to make the World Series especially after losing game 1 to the Yankees. But now 7 consecutive victories later, they are American League Champions for the first time since 1984.
On several occasions, I’ve stated the Magglio Ordonez will never be worth the money we paid him. Like a lot of things this season, I’m rethinking things. Ordonez did his best Kirk Gibson imitation and hit a solo homerun in the sixth inning to tie the game up at 3-3. Then he hit a huge three run walk off bomb in the ninth inning to win it.
Detroit was simply the better team over these 4 games. Eric Chavez took a lot of heat for saying that, but he was right. They made very few mistakes, and took advantage of the A’s miscues.
And here, after a shaky start and a three-run deficit and a bases-loaded blown opportunity and a bases-loaded escape, here after almost every chance imaginable and the score still tied, here came the bottom of the ninth, two outs, two on — I mean, come on, is this perfect or what? —-and here came your something big, folks, here came Magglio Ordonez, one of those free agents who a number of years ago might never have signed with the Tigers, and he smoked an 1-0 pitch so high and so far into the leftfield seats that he had time to watch, walk, raise a fist, then raise another fist, then run the bases pointing the new direction for this new era of Detroit baseball.