Game 162: Royals at Tigers

by billfer on October 1, 2006 · 126 comments

in 2006 Season,Game Post

PREGAME: Well, this is it. For the bulk of the week the Tigers were in a terrific position to clinch the division. As the Twins continued to lose there were so many favorable scenarios for the Tigers (i.e. “they just have to win 3 of their last 5 and it won’t matter what the Twins do”). But now here we are on the last day of the season and it’s all pretty simple. Win and you win. Lose and you hope for a Twins loss.

Back in July when I bought tickets for today’s game, and even back on Sunday, and even yesterday afternoon, I didn’t expect this to be a potential clinching game. So much for a nice relaxing day with the family. But the good news is this could also be one of the most memorable Tiger games I’ve ever attended. I’ll be in the rightfield grandstand, so the out-or-town scoreboard won’t be an option for me.

Jeremy Bonderman will start, which indicates he wouldn’t be pitching until Game 3 of the playoffs at the earliest.

Lefty Odalis Perez will start for the Royals.

Game Time 1:05pm

POSTGAME: There aren’t words to express how disappointed I am right now. It was a beautiful day. There was an electric sold out crowd. There was a big early lead that yet another starting pitcher couldn’t hold onto long enough to even qualify for a win. There was another collapse by a member of the bullpen (which really turned in a very good performance outside of Rodney). There was a dramatic game tying homer. There was a walk-off grand slam that hooked foul. There was the lost opportunity as 2 hitters failed to put the ball in play with the winning run on third. There was Kenny Rogers walking in a run in relief.

I’m frustrated and disappointed, and generally miserable right now.

As was the case all weekend, the game and the division were there for the taking, and the Tigers didn’t take it.

As for collapsing or choking, you can call it what you want. Just be consistent in what you’re saying. If you’re calling this a bad team, then you can’t call what just happened a collapse or a choke because they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. If you think they’re a pretty good team that woefully underachieved down the stretch, then so be it.

I won’t disagree that the expectations for this team changed from the begining of the season, and rightfully so. There is no denying that the last week was awful. The end result is this, this team won 95 games and Comerica Park will be hosting its first playoff game this week. I have a hard time being disappointed about that.

 
 

{ 126 comments }

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 1:23 pm

Nice start for Jeremy. Let’s hope this isn’t one of those games in which he pitches lights out and we give him zero run support.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 1:38 pm

I love when Rod starts talking about how one of the Tigers needs to choke-up and try to hit the other way. Outside of Polanco, when does that EVER happen.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 2:00 pm

I love the urgency and hustle displayed by Maggs, Guillen and Pudge. They’re getting after it for sure.

Nate October 1, 2006 at 2:00 pm

I have goose bumps already.

Nate October 1, 2006 at 2:07 pm

Perhaps they were premature…

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 2:32 pm

Come on Joel!

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 2:35 pm

Huge!!! Great work by Zumaya to get the final two outs of the 5th. And I love that Leyland had the sense to get him out there in that crucial situation. Managing this game like a playoff game.

Nate October 1, 2006 at 3:11 pm

Definitely agree, Joey. Zumaya’s been huge in this game. Coming back from letting the first two runners get aboard to get the first two outs of the inning was a big deal too.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 3:37 pm

Rodney is going to give us all heart-attacks in the playoffs.

Nate October 1, 2006 at 3:39 pm

He’s giving me one right now. Minnesota just took the lead…

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 3:44 pm

Trying to stay positive is very difficult.

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 3:45 pm

Rodney hasn’t come through when he’s been needed in at least a few months…

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 3:46 pm

This team is a joke right now.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 3:52 pm

Thank god for Pudge. Please Jones, hold em, and let’s get those bats going.

ray October 1, 2006 at 3:56 pm

and in 2 days this team will have to play playoff teams… oh my

Steve October 1, 2006 at 4:02 pm

Stairs …………………………

Steve October 1, 2006 at 4:03 pm

How about Rod Allen ;) … Lifts and seperates.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:04 pm

Hilarious.

ray October 1, 2006 at 4:04 pm

do the tigers have anyone left in the bullpen?

Andy in NY October 1, 2006 at 4:05 pm

wow

Steve October 1, 2006 at 4:05 pm

Higgenson

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:13 pm

Haha!

Tater October 1, 2006 at 4:14 pm

Come on, Maggs!

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:21 pm

He fought off a number of tough pitches and then took a cut on a piece of crap out of the zone.

Steve October 1, 2006 at 4:27 pm

How about it, could we do it now? We need a run, a …. run. Come on boys. Go into the play offs with a division winning 9th inning.

OK

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:28 pm

Wow, the Lions are being televised here in New York! I don’t even know what to do with myself. We’re looking at unparalled levels of frustration!

Looks like the Lions got burned on a bad call there too.

ray October 1, 2006 at 4:28 pm

a walk-off division championship would be nice

Steve October 1, 2006 at 4:36 pm

nope,

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 4:38 pm

Crap, Jones is STILL out there. Maybe Leyland wants to throw the game now before we have to use any more pitchers.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Not that inning at any rate.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:39 pm

Jones has been good today. I don’t know who else he’d put out there.

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 4:41 pm

I know it, but it is always scary when he pitches more than one inning.

ray October 1, 2006 at 4:42 pm

they dont have anyone left….tata and?????
i think thats it…jones has thrown over 40 pitches

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 4:42 pm

I like it when Jones proves me wrong. Hope the bats come together and win this thing.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:42 pm

Nice.

GO TIGERS!!!!

GODDAMNIT!!!

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:45 pm

Man in a way, I hope Stairs doesn’t win it for us. It doesn’t inspire confidence that our best hitter the last week has been a guy who won’t even be on the team come Tuesday.

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 4:47 pm

Rogers is in the pen warming up. If he ends up pitching I would imagine that makes Verlander the starter for Tuesday.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:49 pm

This is unbelievable.

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 4:49 pm

Wow.. Rogers coming in for relief… wouldn’t have predicted this after we were up 6-0…

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 4:50 pm

Man, I wish they would have won that game Friday night.

I guess this is just a typical Tigers game – teasing the fans that it would be an easy win and then having to come from behind and work for it.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 4:52 pm

Obviously, this is not ideal. I can’t believe that we’re burning up Kenny trying to get a division winning victory over the ROYALS, AT HOME, AFTER WE WERE UP 6-0!!!!

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 4:55 pm

No doubt, Joey C. No doubt. Un-buh-freakin-leavable.

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 4:56 pm

I think it is worth it if we can face oakland at home instead of new york away…

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:01 pm

Andrew,
I see that you do gift baskets. How about making up about 25 or so for the regulars here, complete with nitro gylceran tablets, chocolate and a crying towel. Wrap them up in a large bucket we can fill with water and stick our heads in. If they sell well enough you can call them the Tiger Bucket.

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Andrew BTW, Billfer will put a tab on this site for a quick order fill ;)

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 5:03 pm

LOL, Steve! I’ll think that one over :)

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 5:05 pm

And the mighty Casey has struck out. Man, would it kill these guys to get the first batter on base?

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 5:08 pm

Clevlen Rocks! Lets go boys!

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:08 pm

AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaHHHHH

ray October 1, 2006 at 5:09 pm

here we go, get clevlen in

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:10 pm

Maggs, Guillen and Pudge have been absolutely monstrous today. Those guys are earning the pay.

Bryan October 1, 2006 at 5:11 pm

Win it for us Brandon…

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:14 pm

Andrew through a barf bag in the bucket,

Bryan October 1, 2006 at 5:15 pm

Ridiculous.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:16 pm

Dudes, what little was left of my sanity is gone. I can’t believe this is all on Granderson. He need to choke the freak up on the bat and get this done. I’ll break something if he Ks.

ray October 1, 2006 at 5:17 pm

well, i think curtis is due

ray October 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

apparently due for another K

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

unbelievable.

Dave October 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Ewww… was it as bad as it looked on MLB Gamecast?

Bryan October 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

You can not be serious.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

Please get Granderson out of the lineup. I can’t believe we couldn’t get that run in.

Dave October 1, 2006 at 5:24 pm

Did Keppinger try to sacrifice bunt, or did he just ground out? I’m relying on internet updates.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:25 pm

Sac.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:27 pm

This is terrible. We’ve got an ump who isn’t calling anything on the outside of the plate and Kenny on the mound. Not looking good for the Tigers.

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 5:28 pm

See ya in NY.

Bryan October 1, 2006 at 5:29 pm

Twinkie fans must find this hilarious.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:29 pm

I’m disgusted.

Chris J October 1, 2006 at 5:29 pm

Make no mistake about it, you’re witnessing one of the worst collapses in major league history. One of only three teams (I believe) to lose a 10 game division lead.

Chris Y. October 1, 2006 at 5:31 pm

Stick a fork in this team.

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Ouch this hurts

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:33 pm

Billfer and I’m sure a bunch of the regulars are at this game. I can’t even fathom how depressing it must be there.

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 5:35 pm

WTH? Perez pinch hitting?!?!?!?!

ray October 1, 2006 at 5:35 pm

the only team happier than the twins right now is the yankees

Chris Y. October 1, 2006 at 5:35 pm

Dang, I can’t wait to see Casey bat in the bottom of this inning.

Perez???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:35 pm

HAHA! Perez!

Chris J October 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Neifi Perez to pinch hit? Is this team just a joke on all of us? I’d honestly rather they have gone 50-112.

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Neifi is hitting I am SSSSSSSSssssssick

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

This is comical!

Dave October 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Is Neifi Perez really pinch-hitting? You’re only down two runs, you can’t quit yet!

Chris Y. October 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Genius.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Wow. That wasn’t too predictable.

Bryan October 1, 2006 at 5:37 pm

That’s Leyland’s way of gift wrapping the division for the Twins. This is sick.

Ryan A. October 1, 2006 at 5:37 pm

Where are these corner strike-calls when Rogers was out there?

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:38 pm

Lions are winning.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:38 pm

This ump is a hump

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:42 pm

Life support, Can Casey do it? Hey its only 2 out one on……. down two why make it easy

Dave October 1, 2006 at 5:43 pm

Clevlen (?) is on deck.

Kris N October 1, 2006 at 5:44 pm

Can’t take one out of three from a triple A team? I don’t think I stomach the thought of playoffs in NYC – at least it will be over soon. This team lost its faith in itself…

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:45 pm

Embarassing. Absolutely embarassing. I’m incapable of expressing my disappointment with this team this weekend.

Chris Y. October 1, 2006 at 5:45 pm

All-time classic choke-job.

Glad it was my team.

Geez, I can’t wait for the layoffs to start….

Chris J October 1, 2006 at 5:46 pm

I’d be surprised if they win a single playoff game. Love to see them do it, but how can you expect not to get swept when you get swept by one of the worst teams in baseball.

Steve October 1, 2006 at 5:49 pm

Wild Card, Gas up the bus we are headed to NY. I live in Rochester NY and now have to deal with a populus where the overwhelming are Yankee fans.

How long will it be until Tuesday night, great season spoiled on the last weekend by getting swept by the unbelievably bad Royals. If we cant win a game against the down trodden Royals at home, are we going to NYC and win there. It will be most interesting.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 5:53 pm

How many games were the Cubs up on the Miracle Mets in 1969? That’s generally regarded as the greatest collapse in baseball history, and I don’t think it was any worse than this.

Can you imagine how we’d all be feeling without the wildcard?

Brian October 1, 2006 at 5:58 pm

Well. That was disappointing.

Jojo SunDevil October 1, 2006 at 6:00 pm

Son of a B****. Swept by the Royals are you kidding me. Please deport Neifi. Deportneifi.com

Jojo SunDevil October 1, 2006 at 6:01 pm

Oh and the Yankees will kill us.

KS October 1, 2006 at 6:19 pm

This is an 80-82 team masquerading as a 95 win team. Is there any way Verlander gets out of the 5th inning in game 1 with the way the Yankees take pitches? Truly a hideous team that had a nice roll, it’s over though. The offense is in a huge need of retooling, and all the winning early on hid that face.

Jim October 1, 2006 at 6:27 pm

Glad to see the bandwagoners jumping off.

It ain’t over yet boys.

Mark S. October 1, 2006 at 7:12 pm

Considering where they were a year ago. NO ONE, and i don’t care who you are, should be complaining about the Tigers. in 2003, one win in a series was a gift. Now its the norm they should win 2 of 3. It not fair to judge them on this last series. So we go to New York, we’ll get the hard work done first. You guys need to believe. I’m sure no ones mad in the clubhouse, they are going to the postseason.

Jim October 1, 2006 at 7:15 pm

Exactly. At the start of the season a .500 record would have been cause to celebrate.

KS October 1, 2006 at 7:27 pm

I’m complaining, deal with it. This is a choke job of ridiculous proportions. I want my team to win there division every year, and then win the whole thing. Anything less is a huge dissapointment. To have a lead as large as the Tigers did and to lose it is inexcusable, I don’t care what they did last year. I don’t care what your expectations were. They gagged there way to the finish line, simple as that.

KS October 1, 2006 at 7:31 pm

Oh, and as for the “bandwagon jumpers” comment, you can kiss my a**. Why don’t you give me your resume for fandom sir. I’d be interested to know it, I’ve been with this franchise since I was 7 years old in 1979, and can rattle off nearly every player who’s played for them since. I want them to win the championship every year, and win every game they play. If I’m able to put this choke job into some historical perspective (and it’s right up there) I suppose that means I’ve leapt off your bandwagon. Sir, I’m not riding with you. I’d rather for my own opinion, and call this collapse as I see it.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 7:39 pm

I’m with you KS.

Obviously going into the season I would have been thrilled if someone from the future told me we would end up making the playoffs. And it’s definitely good to be reminded of it.

That being said, I think we should be allowed to feel disappointed given the past week of baseball–not to mention the past month and a half–and voice that disappointment without being attacked as bandwagon jerks.

I think that a lot of us stopped judging this team based on 2003 standards around the time we found ourselves 40 games over .500. This has been a monumental collapse–there is no debating that–and during this stretch of losing to end the season, the Tigers have displayed numerous flaws that some of us feel compelled to point out, complain about, and discuss. I don’t understand why some people confuse that with fairweather fandom. In New York, you’re hardly considered a fan unless your compaining about every little thing.

Kurt October 1, 2006 at 7:41 pm

What’s Neifi got to do with this ? I didn’t see him giving up 10 runs or blowing a 6 run lead.

Jeff October 1, 2006 at 8:04 pm

*** Considering where they were a year ago. NO ONE, and i don’t care who you are, should be complaining about the Tigers ***

If Miss America asks you to meet her in a motel room but when you get there there’s only her 90-year-old grandmother, that’s a lot more disappointing than Miss America walking by and smiling at you.

As the other guy said, collapsing over the last week and last two months and limping into the playoffs stopped being acceptable when this team was 76-36. This was a very good baseball team that teased us all then fell to pieces, not one that played steady baseball and slowly worked its way to 95 wins.

Ken from Cincinnati October 1, 2006 at 8:18 pm

This team no longer deserves any creme pies. Only stale pretzel rods for this team

Joey the K October 1, 2006 at 8:25 pm

I think I’m finally done vomitting.

Lets hope the boys can recover mentally by tuesday.

Cameron in Singapore October 1, 2006 at 8:27 pm

What a shame. What an absolute shame.

Sam October 1, 2006 at 8:57 pm

OK,

How about some perspective.

I’ve had season tix since 1998. I have been to Spring Training 3 of the last 4 years.

When the Kitty’s started off 18-9, WDFN was talking on the morning show having people call in on how many wins the Tigers would have.

Most people said they would be happy with over .500.

I called and said I predicted 82-90 in spring training and that if everything went well, they would win 95.

The co-hosts on WDFN could not stop laughing. They wanted to know what I was smoking. To those guys: KMA

-Sam

Andrew October 1, 2006 at 9:09 pm

Sam – Love the comment :)

I have been thinking about this loss all evening and have gone through the different stages of grief. As bad as I was feeling as a fan I was trying to put myself in the position of the players. How do you suck it up and hop on a flight to NY that you totally could not have expected going into the weekend? How do you wipe the 5 game losing streak that limped you into the playoffs down the home stretch?

All I could come up with from a manager perspective is to preach to the players that a new season has begun. Throw out everyone’s records and what they did through Oct. 1st.

My hope is that Leyland gets the boys settled down and having FUN while they play out there. If these team stays loose and the pitching suddenly returns perhaps we will have something to wash this bad taste from our mouths.

Ken from Jersey October 1, 2006 at 9:29 pm

The sun will come up on Tuesday and the Tigers will be playing in the postseason, and that’s something any of us would have taken heading into this year, regardless of how the season ended.

Obviously, this team has some holes. Obviously, it overachieved. Yet this is the first time I was excited about baseball in September in a very long time. Sure, I’m disappointed, but it is fading the more I think about what this team gave us this season.

To call this one of the worst collapses in history, I disagree with. That would be a discredit to the Twins; just as it would be a discredit to the ’87 Tigers, who were four games behind Toronto with eight to play, if memory serves. This last week was tough to swallow, for sure, but this team is not a joke or an embarrassment. One-hundred nineteen losses are a joke and an embarrassment.

With the nucleus this team has in place, particularly pitching, this might only be the beginning. With some additions, particularly to add depth off the bench, this squad should be a contender for the foreseeable future. That excites me. Sometimes, you must walk before you can run. (Insert your own joke about the Tigers’ lack of walks here.) We’ve seen time and time again instances when success comes quickly and easily, and fades just as fast. This is still a work in progress and I think, or maybe just foolishly hope, any disappointment just feeds the fire. It’s happened before.

Bless you boys, and thanks for giving me a chance to wear my Tigers gear without ridicule. And if anyone is going to ridicule them for losing the division, I’ll just ask them where their team is Tuesday. Hopefully, they’re not Yankees fans.

Steve October 1, 2006 at 9:30 pm

Andrew, Love to run with that and I really want the Tigers to do well, however the bottom line is this – We are not playing well right now. We are just going through the motions, we need a spark, someone to stepup and pull this team along with them. Problem is many of them had chances today to be just that guy but for one reason or another they didnt, so the way they lost the division will make it even harder to overcome and make good.

The good news for me and I as well saw a few games in Lakeland (home of the absolute worst hot dogs at any ball park anywhere) is that they are over 500 and a competitive team. I remember sitting on the big D in the outfield with my 8 year old in Florida and thinking winning every other game should not be that hard this year. So while they certainly did that and I am thrilled with the season, it is a bit disapointing on how they finished.

Lets see how it goes and lets take opne game at a time. Many thanks to Billfer for the blog, I really like coming here to talk Tigers ball with all of you guys.

Steve

Jim October 1, 2006 at 10:17 pm

KS, It’s unfortunate you saw my comment as somehow referring to your comment. My “bandwagon” comment was more to the people (not in this discussion) who say we’re going to just get steamrolled by the Yankees. Since the end of the game people I know who’ve rooted for the Tigers all year are all of a sudden saying we’ll get swept in the first round.

It had nothing to do with you, or with your complaining. I’m all for complaining about a team and pointing out flaws. That’s kind of a big part of being a real fan.

Really, my gripe is with the people who’ve all of a sudden given up on these guys after a bad stretch. It’s a whole new season and last time I checked the Yankees didn’t go 162-0 this year. They can be beat.

As far as wanting them to win the division of course I wanted them to. But really it’s the end result that counts. The division would have been nice but it’s already past us. It’s time to win the WS.

As far as my “resume of fandom”? That was awfully childish and had me laughing. I’m not going to engage into a pissing contest with you.

Joey C. October 1, 2006 at 10:59 pm

I worry about the future. We’re overpaying for a couple of aging, fading players and outside of Maybin there are very few bright spots as far as position prospects goes. Perhaps a couple of our pitching prospects don’t pan out–which is quite possible–and really, what are we looking at? In a lot of ways, this team is build to compete in the next year and after that, Maggs and Pudge aren’t going to be the same and Guillen will be right on their tails.

I think that’s part of the reason a few of us are putting so much on THIS year. Once it became a real possibility that this year’s Tigers would make the playoffs and have a chance to bring home a championship, our hopes kinda got pinned to this season. It’s so hard to make the playoffs. It’s so hard to build a team that has a chance to win a championship. Look at the Cubs? I mean there are 100 year old cub fans who have never seen a championship! That’s an extreme example, but a championship calibre club is a rare thing, and we may not see one here again for another long while. I got to a point with the 2006 Tigers where I started thinking they could get it done this year. And they still may. But their performance down the stretch leaves me feeling pretty skeptical. And I think that’s part of what’s fueling my extreme disappointment with the outcome of this series against the Royals.

And I don’t think this team is embarassing or a joke on the whole. But they way they played this weekend was embarrassing, and they did look like a joke. They looked like a team that is leading the whole country to say, “I knew Detroit wasn’t any good. I knew Detroit would fall apart.” That crap stings. I’m sick of telling people I’m a Tiger fan and getting that chuckle. Tomorrow I’ll be getting that chuckle.

Ken from Jersey October 2, 2006 at 12:07 am

Mike Francesa, half of WFAN’s famed Mike & the Mad Dog radio talk show, has a Sunday night TV show. On that show, The Genius, as I like to call him (and he likes it too), just declared the Tigers-Yankees playoff series the easiest series the Yanks have ever had under Joe Torre.

Suddenly, I’m feeling better.

Bobber October 2, 2006 at 12:10 am

Joey,

Your wiseguys can save their chuckles for NL fans. Consider: only one team in the whole league won more than 88 games.

And then there’re the Cardinals. A team that is the biggest joke of the ’06 season. Can you imagine a team that can manage only 83 wins and go to post-season–as division champion? Pathetic.

Last year, San Diego went with 82.

Granted, for almost two months (mid-June through mid-August) the Tigers projected to 108-109 wins. So from that perspective 95 and a wildcard are real disappointments.

Me, I’d rather go as the wildcard in the toughest division of the toughest league than as division champion in the “senior circuit”.

T Smith October 2, 2006 at 12:12 am

I’ve been so sick to my stomach this whole weekend I haven’t been able to even articulate a post. Somehow, I have to come to terms with this team. The first week of August I was (literally) comparing this team to the 84 Tigers, 86 Mets, 01 Marniers, 98 Yankees, 27 Yankees, etc., to see where they stacked up W vs. L after each game. In the end, I dreamed of seeing this team compared to some of the best teams ever. Yeah, yeah…I was indulging myself. And so long as we kept posting Ws, I was also deluding myself.

Sometime during late August I came to terms with the fact that this wasn’t a “great” team. But I still maintained the opinion that this was a very good team that could certainly beat the Mets, or any National League team out there, and moreover, that this was a very solid team that had just as good of a shot as any other AL team to make it to the World Series.

Sometime during the first week of September I came to terms with the fact that the Tigers were really just a Cinderella team, but one that could nonetheless finish off the story–with a combination of luck, determination, and some breaks along the way.

Sometime during the second week of September I came to terms with the fact that the Tigers vastly overachieved up through the first week of August, that Jim Leyland wasn’t in actuality a baseball guru, and that at least two other teams in the Central Division were better than the Tigers and actually deserved to win the Division, despite the records. The Tigers were bonified third place team.

Sometime during the third week of September, I came to terms with the fact that Tigers were, at best, a .500-caliber team, and in reality, closer in talent and caliber to teams like the Indians & Orioles, and that there were a whole host of teams out there (playoff bound or not) who were better than the Tigers. The Tigers were a fourth place team, mascarading as a contender, fortunate to win a key series here and there and emmensely lucky for three-quarters of the season–and actually a phenomenon in their own right for having won a spot in the playoffs.

Now, after today’s game, I have to come to terms with this team yet again. What is this team? So many magical moments that make you yearn to believe, so much emotion, and yet, in the end, the season slips away on the very last day by giving up the division lead for the first time since May, to a team that just lost two of three. Is this just a very bad team, or a pretty good team that choked? But wait, I thought good teams don’t choke…isn’t that part of being a good team?

While Gullien, Pudge, and Ordonez stepped up like champs during the slide, we simply can’t contend with three clutch players. Three clutch players also do not make a good team. A lot of the other players clearly do not believe in themselves nor in the team. While they were all part of the magic that created a varying degree of illusions for all of us, in the end, they just couldn’t deliver. Apparently, a majority of the Tigers came to the same terms with themselves as I have over the course the last seven weeks. I’ve seen the same players over and over again choke and fail to put the ball in play to finish off the job (and I’m not talking about delivering a key hit–I’m talking about simply putting the ball in play to come through). Likewise, so many of the starting pitchers do no believe that they are truly the best rotation, if not among the best rotations, in baseball. Ditto goes for collective psyche of the bullpen.

I am not “jumping off the bandwagon” or refusing to support the Tigers due to my anxiety-ridden disappointment. I will not desert the Tigers as they limp vunerably into Yankee Statium. I’ll continue to eat, think, and breath Tiger baseball all this week. In the end, I’ll endure the losses to the Yanks and hope, beyond reason and delusion, that they can actually pull off the upset. No, I’m not handing in my fans’ rights. Rather, I believe I’m calling a spade a spade. The sooner I start to see this team for what it is, the sooner I will be able to come to terms not only with the 2006 Detroit Tigers, but with my heart-broken disappointment.

lever October 2, 2006 at 1:03 am

Hello from a die hard Twins fan. Though it has to be a huge let down, you guys have to really be proud of a team that has come so far. The team had an outstanding season and made the playoffs. They could have easily won the division. Believe me, there have been a few games the Twins lost in the last few weeks (hello? Two Santana starts) that had me gnasing my teeth. Though I do feel bad for you Tigers fans, I must admit, this was a rather gleeful day for the Twinkies. Not because El Tigres lost, but because the Twins have come so dang far. The first team to move into first place in the division this late in the season (can’t do it much later :) ). Plus, batting title fun vs. Yankees players. This is the most satisfying of the division titles of the last five years given how much the team had to overcome.

I wish you all the best against the Yankees. Frankly, I was a bit ambivalent about winning the divison, because, frankly, playing a 3 of 5 vs. the Yanks instead of a 4 of 7 just seems so much more managable. There are just too many intangibles that favor the Yankees in a seven game series. Anyhow, all the best, again.

Joe October 2, 2006 at 2:21 am

Dear Tigers,

Please upset the Yankees so the Twins do not have to play them in a best of 7 series. You are much more managable.

Love,

Twins fan.

Andrew October 2, 2006 at 10:37 am

C’mon Tigers Fans, repeat after me:

Until the final out is recorded on this wonderful 2006 Tigers season I will not lose faith. I will not worry about next year until this year is over. I will enjoy some Detroit Tigers October baseball and savor the moments and the memories.

I will listen to Fox’s Tim McCarver ridicule my Tigers late season funk and chuckle when our boys take one of the games in New York.

I will be shocked to some degree (due to their play of late) to see how well the Tigers perform in the playoffs and continue to wear the English D with pride.

I will root for the home team and if they don’t win it just might be a shame, but it isn’t the end of the world.

Go Tigers!

To quote a former Yankee, Yogi Berra – “It ain’t over, ’til it’s over.”

Chris J October 2, 2006 at 10:44 am

I know it’s not over. If we can pull one out in New York I’ll feel a lot better, trust me.

Go Tigs.

Chris Y. October 2, 2006 at 11:02 am

I have had a great number of thoughts going through ym head since yesterday (really the past month or so) about what the real identity of this team is, etc. Still I cannot find it in me to deliver a Monday morning rant. Still, I have distilled a few observations on the 2006 regular season.

This team has good pitching depth, thanks to DD. If these guys can trun it on for the postseason, we have just as good a shot as anybody. The only guy who consistently underperforms in this role on the staff is Rodney. He’s not clutch enough for the eighth inning. I’ve said this all year.

We have three solid hitters, corrected for their position, in Guillen, Maggs (the 2nd half), and Pudge. Everyone else has significant flaws, but with a little luck can provide enough offense for this pitching staff when they are on.

The coaching has changed alot of the bad attitude that plagued this club the past few years. We were better in 04 and 05 than what was played out on the field. And with a little personel help, we’ve turned the corner (I hope 06 isn’t a blip). However, there have been some colossal management mistakes, esp. down the stretch. Truly, absolutely baffling. I’ll take it because of the overall result, but the coaches, incl. Leyland have just as many errors to reflect on as the rest of the club.

In reality, this club overacheived much of the year. They have had problems winning big games on a regular basis, but won enough of them to make the playoffs. I am anxious to see if we can overachieve a little more before the winter arrives.

jim-mt October 2, 2006 at 11:24 am

Don’t give up-who would have thought KC could sweep. The games still have to be played

Steve October 2, 2006 at 12:02 pm

Its amazing what a good nights sleep will do, some one posted that there isnt a fan out there or the other teams that would not trade places with us. We did not get here the way any of us wanted to but what is done, is done. So WE ALL start at 0-0 and go from here.
We all tell our kids, dont worry about the past – Focus on the future and what you can do to make it better, so we now have to take or own advise.

Steve.

PS If we win the World Series and Neifi is MVP, I heard Pete will supply all of us with #8 MVP t-shirts in Tiger colors and Ken from Cinci will suppy a months supply of oatmeal pies.

T Smith October 2, 2006 at 12:12 pm

Chris Y,

I agree with you. The Tigers can beat the Yankees. The pitchers can hold opposing offensives…but the key word is “if” they can turn in on. Everybody says, “if” this happens, and “if” that happens, then we can win. YES! And if all those things came to pass, we would have won 112 games and steam-rolled the Yankees.

I just haven’t seen it. And believe me, if I am forced to eat my words, it’ll be a dish served sweet.

One squeeze bunt out of Inge in the 12th inning, or one fly ball to the outfield, and we’d be playing Oakland Tuesday at CoAmerica and not so demoralized. Hey, it may even be to our advantage to play the Yankees in 5. Maybe losing out was the best path to the WS. But this team is absolutely bereft of confidence because of it. That’s the key. This team has been through an emotional ringer. Other teams feed off it, take advantage of it, and it shows in clutch situations. Except for Guillen, Pudge, Maggs, and Polly, the other guys don’t look like they’re handling the pressure at all. They’re uncomfortable in their own skin. What’s more, that must foster some tacit resentment from the four who are getting on base, who are starting rallys, only to leave the job up to teammates who continually fail to get the job done. I’m just calling it like I see it. I’m not losing faith–I still have it. It’s just reason–like a cold slap in the face–has taken a firm grasp on my senses to keep me from jumping out the window.

If this team turns it around at Yankee Stadium, I’ll be the first to rethink what is actually going on with the baseball Gods. I’ll be the first to rethink the reality of the Tigers incredible feet of defying all odds to blow the division. I’ll be the first to rethink the pressure that’s been getting into the Tiger’s heads and affecting their preformances.

I’ll be watching the games, and I may even be going to the game on Wednesday night. I want the Tigers to surprise me. I want to rethink my conclusions. I despirately want that intellectual assignment.

Ken from Jersey October 2, 2006 at 11:24 pm

Obviously, beating the Yanks will be a tall order. But the Tigers likely would have had to face them sometime along this road, so I’d much rather only need to win 3 against them rather than 4.

In a way, and maybe it’s only wishful thinking, this might play to Detroit’s advantage. No one here is giving the Tigers any kind of chance. I heard a clip of Leyland on WFAN in NY and he sounded a little annoyed as he stated that this is a good team and pointed out the AL Central had three teams win at least 90 games.

The Tigers come in, no doubt, feeling like they’ve accomplished nothing. There’s no chance they’ll rest on their laurels. They should have a chip on their shoulders and I’m sure Leyland will be in their ears constantly about how no one is giving them the least bit of respect despite winning 95 games, which according to the standings shown in my newspaper were only 2 fewer than the Yanks.

Yes, NY has a potentially potent lineup. But Wang is as unproven as any Tiger starter and Randy Johnson’s achy back looms. And the only thing I’ve learned about this group of Detroiters is that I never know what to expect from them. There were several times I was ready to write them off this season, and they scuffled back. As poorly as the last five games went, I think they had been 14-13 in the previous 27 — not great, but hardly what I would label a collapse.

Let the games begin. And enjoy! The Tigers are one of four AL teams with a chance to go to the World Series. How bad is that?

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