Very rarely am I right. That’s why I see no shame in pulling this out from last Monday:
At the same time, the mere fact that the Tigers are still playing means they have a shot. If the Tigers can find a way to take one of the first 2 games I actually believe the Tigers will win this series. This is fully a homer pick and not based on anything resembling solid logic. I’m confident that Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman can pick up wins against the Yankees 3rd and 4th options.
Sometimes it’s good to be a homer. I wasn’t expecting the complete shutdown of the Yankee bats, but I’ll just attribute this to Blind-Squirrel-Nut.
A link-a-thon of who’s saying what about our Tigers…
The Tigers won one for the little guy, reaffirming that champagne doesn’t necessarily clash with blue collar. They proved that soul and passion aren’t measured through a bank statement, emerging as the more virtuous in the morality play that every Yankee playoff series seems to become.
Saturday, the Tigers showed all of baseball why they were, for so many months in 2006, the best team in baseball. They beat the Yankees for the third consecutive day and cemented the ‘06 Tigers as one of baseball’s premier teams and best-ever stories — an ongoing documentary about one club and how it has come farther in three years than any team in major-league history.
You can say the Red Sox loss in ’04 was worse, because the Yankees lost four straight, because no baseball team had ever done that, because it was the Red Sox. This one was just as bad. Tiger relief pitchers ruined them, Kenny Rogers ruined them, Jeremy Bonderman looked like he might no-hit them yesterday. The best batting order since the ’27 Yankees had nothing. They were supposed to make history. Instead they turn New York over to the Mets, and maybe get their manager fired. They can’t only be Torre’s Yankees when they win.
Praise the Tigers all you want, and the Yankees certainly did, but the reason their season is over after a second straight one-and-out performance is easy to explain: They stunk.
Underdogs? That was Leyland’s story, and he’s sticking to it, making the Tigers’ four-game victory over the Yankees seem that much more improbable. It was improbable — insane, really — but for heaven’s sake, the Tigers led the majors in ERA this season and won only two fewer games than the Yankees. What’s more impressive, starting with old Mr. Softie, Kenny Rogers, they generated more fire in this Division Series than the corporate Yankees will ever muster.
Though he is too modest to ever admit it, this has been the most skilled craftsmanship of Leyland’s storied career. And we’re talking about a man who managed Pittsburgh to three division titles in the early 1990s and Florida to a World Series title in 1997.
The Yankees simply were beaten in every facet of the game. The Tigers dominated the Yankees on the mound. They overpowered them at the plate. And they outdazzled them on the field.
It’s hard to believe that anyone could top Kenny Rogers’ performance on Friday, but Bonderman did just that. He retired the first 15 batters he faced and it wasn’t until Robinson Cano singled to lead off the sixth that Bonderman faced his first “threat.” He threw 99 pitches over 8.1 innings, and 70 of those were strikes. He did end up giving up two runs, but it wasn’t until the Tigers had put up eight runs in the first six frames.
Anyone feeling hungover this morning? I am and I didn’t even have anything to drink last night. The Yankees’ entertaining and highly enjoyable season ended prematurely yesterday, with a whimper then a thud, and we fans can’t help but feeling angry and sad–completely helpless. There will be plenty of blame to go around (if you think we’ve seen the peak of the A Rod bashing, hold onto your hats). Will they fire Joe Torre, How Could This Have Happened?!, etc, etc. Guys, I just don’t have it in me to dig into the dirt right now, so you’ll excuse the lack of links. The Yankees weren’t the only team to take it on the chin in the first round–look at the Twins, who also had a rewarding regular season. But that’s what makes baseball unpredictable, wonderful, and, at these times, painful.
Watching Jeremy Bonderman cruise through the first 5 innings today, on only 40 pitches, against “Murderer’s Row & Cano,” really drilled the Yankees problem home, to me. Working the pitcher, playing for deep counts, etc., is only successful against bad-to-average pitching. It does not work against good, great, or hot pitching. When you face pitchers who can pound quality strike after quality strike, you better start stringing together some singles for a rally – because you’re not going to get that fat and/or cookie pitch to blast for extra bases. Go ask Sheffield, or Giambi, or A-Rod about that.
I felt as good about this team going into the postseason as I had about any team since the 1999 team. The lineup looked stacked, the starting pitching was solid if not great, and the top of the bullpen seemed decent enough. But Detroit outplayed them on both sides of the ball, and earned this series victory. I find this Tigers team to be fairly likeable, so I’ll be pulling for them to win it all now.
I wish I’d have been lucky enough to get tickets for this series. I thought what the players did, getting the fans involved in the celebration, has got to be one of the most amazing sights in baseball, if not all sports. This series had the feel of the Pistons-Lakers a few years back. No one gave the Pistons a shot, no one gave the Tigers a shot. On paper, it was no closer than the experts thought. But you’ve got to play the games, and both times, the Detroit teams came through, at first with a hint of victory to come, then both flat-out took what was theirs. When the Pistons finally clinched, and it was known from the middle of the game they would, there was a championship. The Tigers and fans just felt like they’d won one.
In my series preview, I had predicted that the Tigers would win the series because of superior pitching but never in my wildest dreams did I think that they would win so convincingly. At one point, they held “the best line-up ever assembled” scoreless for 20 straight innings. In the last two games, the Yankees actually looked overmatched. Beating the Yankees is one thing. Completely shutting them down is something else.
Let the Yankees have ESPN and the biased commentators, who, no doubt, are scrambling for intelligent analysis on a series between two teams they’ve largely ignored. They can show Derek Jeter golfing to their hearts content. I’ll be watching Detroit/Oakland; two teams who haven’t been dancing this long in October in more than a decade; two teams who promise pitching duels, instead of slug-fests; two teams who exude pure, unabashed love for the game, and two teams who have cities full of fans asking nothing more than good October baseball.