Crushed in Oakland

by billfer on September 2, 2007 · 66 comments

in 2007 Season

I wish I could say that this was easily the Tigers most devastating loss, but really that would require more time to sort through them. It’s easily in the top 2 in terms of crushing losses to the A’s this year though.

Inexplicably the Tigers blew a 7 run lead to the A’s, and missed a chance to gain ground on the 3 teams they are chasing. With the Indians, Mariners, and Yankees all losing, the Tigers had a chance to gain in both their wild card and divisional chances. Some might say that at least they didn’t lose ground, but the fact of the matter is they did. In the last month of the season everyday you’re not moving up, your moving down because that’s one less game you have a chance to win.

The emotional response is to say this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. That the team can’t possibly compete after this and it’s all over. At least that was my initial reaction and I’m much more glass half full than many. I know many had already written the season off but I’m an optimist – plus I checked the standings and the Tigers still are in the hunt for a playoff spot.

A popular refrain after losses like this are complaints about a lack of heart or a lack of urgency. Comments on the demeanors of players and the managers and other critiques that really can’t be backed up one way or another. The postgame analysis is heavily influenced by the results instead of the actions. Case in point, when Justin Verlander is dominating and getting quickly back up on the rubber and not pausing between pitches, “he’s on a mission.” But when he does the exact same thing and struggles, he isn’t on a mission, then “he’s rushing it, he needs to slow it down.”

The same is true of this lack of heart argument. Was there a lack of heart before the first pitch was thrown and it was 0-0? How did the lead get to be 7 runs in the first place? Nate Robertson was pitching a perfect game and the Tigers had received some timely 2 out (i.e. clutch) hits.

As for the lack of urgency, how about Jim Leyland turning to his big 3 relievers for the last 3 innings despite having a 5 run lead. He wanted this game, and he managed it with a sense of urgency. He even brought in Pudge and interrupted what would have been 2 full days off because of the issues when Rabelo catches Jones.

The fact of the matter is that Rodney and Jones got lit up. I don’t think it has anything to do with heart, urgency, swagger, or any other nonsense. Rodney couldn’t find the strike zone for the first time in a month and he got hammered. Cameron Maybin lost a ball in the sun, much like Nick Swisher did a couple innings earlier only Swisher recovered in time. Todd Jones allowed just his 3rd homer of the season, and then proceeded to start playing whack-a-mole around the plate. (really poor timing for Jonesy on a day when he bashes talk show radio hosts – if it weren’t for Michigan losing this would be the only thing discussed by Greg Brady on Jamie and Brady Tuesday morning) What do any of these things have to do with heart? Two of the team’s most effective relievers and a 20 year old who’s been with the team for 3 weeks cost the team a game because they didn’t have heart? It just doesn’t make sense.

Blame this one on the bullpen. Blame it on Leyland’s lineup if you wish (which scored 7 runs incidentally). Blame it on a lack of heart if it makes you feel better. But sometimes crap happens. And it’s just happening an awful lot.

 
 

{ 66 comments }

KS September 2, 2007 at 10:10 pm

I hate saying this, but I’m really looking forward to getting this season over with. In a weird way, them getting good last year has sapped my love of the sport (I used to love watching the pennant races as the Tigers were 25 games out in June), it’s really tough to watch them squander what should have been an excellent season. But heck, we got to experience this in 85 and 86 before, maybe the cycle will repeat (sans a world championship).

Jason from Somewhere September 2, 2007 at 10:15 pm

Great post. This is why i read this blog: a little bit of sense and reasonable, level headed analysis.

Jim September 2, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Not over till we’re 2 games out with 1 game left! LETS GO!

Cameron in Singapore September 2, 2007 at 10:56 pm

It’s not our year it’s not our year it’s not our year. Ridiculous loss…

feilong80 September 2, 2007 at 11:17 pm

Hate to say it, Todd Jones is 100% correct on the sports talk radio guys. He isn’t alone, either: writers like Bill Simmons have been pointing this out for years. Some of them are OK: I really like Doug Karsch and Scott Anderson on WXYT. They are funny, but don’t get overboard. Mike Valenti, however, is the worst. He’s trying to do some kind of Jim Rome on crack routine, and it gets real old, real fast. It’s too bad, too, because I like Terry Foster.

Anthony September 2, 2007 at 11:54 pm

This stuff does happen, absolutely. However, giving away plenty of winnable games with bad managerial moves puts the team in a position to have their backs broken by games like this.

stephen September 3, 2007 at 12:12 am

Ok, i’m now convinced. It’s not a lack of heart, it’s a blazing lack of competence and brains. Somebody needed to make a pitch. Someone needed to push across an extra run, someone needed not to play a child in center field. Someone needed to think that giving a 24m contract to a player who on his best day is billed as the league’s best #9 hitter was a bad idea.
As people have constantly pointed out, the Tigers are not a small market team anymore. Fine, then play like a big market team and expect to be held accountable when the entire organization seems to be stuck in a season long brain-lock. I agree with Todd Jones’s analysis of sports radio in general, but in other markets the actual reporters and columnists would hold the players and the franchise accountable. That never happens in Detroit.
And guess what? If someone’s asking the tough questions about Leyland’s bonehead moves or Inge’s blatantly obvious, if not intentional, surrender of his season, or Pudge’s refusal to take pitches, they might spend a tiny moment of their time re-evaluating their way of doing things. That’s what keeps politicians almost honest and businesses from ripping off their customers, it’s the possibility of accountability. I just think this team isn’t ever held accountable and that’s what sucks; the refusal to reevaluate ways that aren’t working and making positive changes.

Jim September 3, 2007 at 12:23 am

Stephen I agree on that. I really wish a guy like sheff or pudge would say somthing pubically to be honest. Somthing needs to be said that’s not positive

rich September 3, 2007 at 8:29 am

there will be changes acoming,bank on it.seay,byrdak and jones are at the end on their tiger careers,robertson is like sybil never know what you’ll get.inge needs to wake up and smell the coffee with the bat,same with pudge.every other bat has been pretty decent.i’ll never know why they called timo up,when cleven is better defensively and has power.

Bill A \ Kal.MI September 3, 2007 at 9:09 am

Bilfer, you put your finger on the presenting issue:

Rodney couldn?t find the strike zone

Rodney can be devastating

and he can be a disaster

My impression, “FWIW” is he wasn’t ready for work yesterday when the boss needed him

Jim needs to talk to Chuck about that because that right there is where we lost that game. It wasn’t Jone’s fault and it wasn’t Inge’ fault.

I’ve talked about opportunity and improvement

yesterday’s game was an opportunity. what did we learn? Jim’s the boss; he needs to get with his coaches and respond to this.

Bill A \ Kal.MI September 3, 2007 at 9:23 am

I want to add something more

take a look at the guys in the bullpen today

Bobby Sea, Chad Durbin, Zach Miner, even Jason Grilli

I see improvement in these “middle guys” in the last 2 months and guess what: that has likely come from thre opportunities they had had to get in and play

Our Tigers have a very very good team. and so these improvements that we are needing are really more like fine-tuning

interesting thought though– kinda leaves me wondering why we bring up AAA pitchers who only throw 1 or 2 pitches

The Pitchers Basic needs
2 fastballs: rising fastball and tailing
change-up at least 10 mph slower than fastball
curve or slider

Pitching Basic Strategy: Attack the strike zone. make the batter swing at the ball so you can get him out.

BobS. September 3, 2007 at 9:52 am

Bill A,
I would like to go on record as saying your insight into the obvious has contributed immensely to my understanding of baseball.Your periodic observation that a position player’s defensive skills are important for the eight or nine half innings that they are required to field the baseball is the stuff of genius.
And now,recently,your revelation that a pitcher’s success depends on their ability to throw a fastball,a breaking pitch,and a change up,FOR STRIKES,is,simply put, breathtaking.
Sir,trust that I will be relaying your wisdom to Jim and Chuck forthwith.

Hugs and kisses,
Brandon Inge#15

Sam September 3, 2007 at 9:58 am

I’ve resolved myself that it is not our year. I have not yet bought my playoff tickets and don’t see them making it. I have to agree with Todd Jones on sports radio (especially the blue socks in gym class!). I used to listen to it, but can not stand it anymore. Every city has about the same talk radio, so we can’t say it is a Detroit specific problem. I do listen to XM 175 (the baseball station) and enjoy the talk show hosts there.

-Sam

Bill A \ Kal.MI September 3, 2007 at 10:05 am

Hate to say it, Todd Jones is 100% correct on the sports talk radio guys

Go Jones!! tee hee

interesting confirmation of what Jones is saying the announcer on ESPN this morning just said to the effect the Tigers just learned trading Jack Hanahan was a big mistake cuz he hit the winning hit

like I said, Go Jones!!

Bob S: perhaps you enjoy Stephen’s comments more that mine; that’s All Good

cib September 3, 2007 at 10:17 am
cib September 3, 2007 at 10:17 am

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070903/SPORTS08/709030351&imw=Y

He is one of the more level-headed and reasonable writers.

MJC September 3, 2007 at 10:18 am

If its not about heart then should I assume that they don’t have the talent? On a six game road trip when they had to find way’s to win, they routinly found ways to lose:

2-4 against sub .500 teams
a game in which they get 16 hits yet score 3 runs
going down 5-0 in the 1st inning and never mounting any real rally
2 loses in extra-innings
blowing a 7 run lead

I agree with your assesemnt of yesterday’s game, bottomline, they lost because the ‘pen couldn’t close the game. But, loses like yesterday are no longer the exception.

Since their sweep of the Twins back in July, the Tigers have gone 15-38. So, again I ask, if it’s not lack of heart, is it lack of talent?

Kathy September 3, 2007 at 10:19 am

After watching Rodney the last month, I began to toy with the idea we might be looking at next year’s closer. He was really awesome in August post injuries. Absolutely lights out! And then yesterday happens. Jonsey’s been so good for us this year and then he falls apart too. I suppose they will regroup, pull themselves together and start new. I can’t blame any one or two individuals for the loss. There were plenty of mistakes to go around. And all the good things we saw: Santiago on fire and flashing leather, Marcus getting his groove back, clutch hitting, qualtiy start from Nate. No matter what else happens, I hope the Tigers play strong the rest of September.

Kathy September 3, 2007 at 10:25 am

And what if Kenny doesn’t have a good start Wednesday? All the decisions Dombrowski has to make in the off season, trades he has to ponder and for who? I wouldn’t want his job.

Bill A \ Kal.MI September 3, 2007 at 10:29 am

more about SportsWriters: I just went back and re-checked the DetNews game wrap. Rodney is not mentioned in the story

with a miss like that I might as well just read the box score. get more out of that

and the ESPN sports announcer this morning was terrible. all the usual — if these guys had that guy and this guy is awful etc etc. nothing interesting. GO JONES!!

Bill A \ Kal.MI September 3, 2007 at 10:37 am

Kathy, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Kenny. I’m gonna get myself down to my favorite Tavern and get a cold one and check in.

Hopefully Kenny will show us the old magic stuff

remember too though, life goes on. I hadda clean up some down limbs in the yard this weekend. cutt’n and haul’n. it was easier when i was younger…

Jason September 3, 2007 at 11:34 am

If you wrote the Tigers off last week, like I did, then you wouldn’t be so crushed by this loss. Holding out hope where there isn’t any will make it worse in the end.

Chris M September 3, 2007 at 11:47 am

After reading Jones’ column I know one thing: I don’t want him buying the Lions.

ron September 3, 2007 at 11:48 am

Geez, what’s wrong with having no heart? They’re not criminals.

Vince in MN September 3, 2007 at 12:30 pm

As Bilfer said, when they are playing good, there doesn’t seem to be much concern about “heart.” The heart issue is the one that we tend to grab onto when we get a punch in the face from reality, but still don’t quite want to believe it. The period of being stunnned before the pain sets in. A “this can’t be happening” moment.

All the heart in the world isn’t going to help if there is a lack in talent to pull you through. Whether this lack of talent is due to injuries, players having off-years, not playing up to abilities or being on the decline because of age, or what have you, doesn’t really matter. Ehen the 162nd game is played and the final standings are posted, the bottom line will be that as a TEAM (and this includes management) they didn’t perform very well this year. The hitting has been pretty good despite several gaping holes in the lineup, but the pitching has been barely above horrendous. Take a look at the team pitching stats for the season and the consistent ranking of 10th or 11th in the league is a pretty good indication of the talent level of this half of the team. It isn’t possible for the hitting side of the team to pick up this dismal group day in and day out. No team with pitching that bad is going to be in the playoffs. No team with pitchng that bad is even close to being playoff caliber. Maybe last year was just a fluke. One hopes not, and that this year is the fluke, but we have to accept the possibility that as a team the Tigers aren’t quite there yet.

Anthony L September 3, 2007 at 12:31 pm

I don’t think they’ve lost their “heart”. I do think that long and steady line of injuries has heavily countermanded their productivity this year. It seems like as soon as one piece comes together two new pieces fall off. I think it’s obvious by how well they were playing in the first half as opposed to the second half. With all the of injuries and replacements, and switches, to me, it seems like they just can’t get into a groove. Once they do, someone hits the shelf.

Mix that in with with the everyday ups and downs of the game and it spells trouble. I’d still take this year over a lot of the last few seasons (sans last year of course). Yeah, this year has been a step down from last year. The year isn’t over with either and I’m trying to stay optimistic. A comeback isn’t out of the question, if you’ll remember the Tigers weren’t expected to make the playoffs last year either, and when they did they were expected to be crushed in a sweep by the Yanks.

Kurt September 3, 2007 at 12:39 pm

I don’t know who starts these “no heart” thoughts but I always find it kinda annoying. Like anyone knows if players have “heart.” It’s like saying “intangible we don’t know.” I’m with bilfer. A team doesn’t have heart for 5 innings and no heart the rest of the game. Just let that drop.

They do, however, have a lack of ability to get the job done, and it’s lasted all year. And yes, Jim Leyland makes mistakes. Lord knows we’ve all had good chance to call him out on it. But he sure doesn’t make a team blow a seven run lead.

Stuff happens. This team just isn’t good enough. Whatever. I’ll keep watching because there’s some interesting storylines, I like baseball and I root for the Tigers. But like some folks, I don’t really get upset over the losses like yesterday because my expectations of the postseason were mostly lost a good month ago.

It should be an interesting offseason. The team doesn’t need to be remade, but it definitely needs issues addressed.

billfer September 3, 2007 at 12:47 pm

If its not about heart then should I assume that they don’t have the talent? On a six game road trip when they had to find way’s to win, they routinly found ways to lose:

2-4 against sub .500 teams
a game in which they get 16 hits yet score 3 runs
going down 5-0 in the 1st inning and never mounting any real rally
2 loses in extra-innings
blowing a 7 run lead

So who didn’t have heart? Andrew Miller stunk so I guess he didn’t have heart. And Nate Robertson lost one of those games and got a no decision in the other, so he had heart yesterday, but not in his other start.

The Tigers forced extra innings on Friday by rallying in the 9th inning – so they had heart in the 9th – but later lost in the 10th so they ran out of heart. Or at least Joel Zumaya did who didn’t record an out. But he retired all 4 hitters he faced on Sunday so then he had heart.

Timo Perez took an 0′fer in the 16 hit game and repeatedly killed rallies – no heart. But then he hit well after that, so he found some heart. That is until yesterday when he struck out int he 10th.

Todd Jones has heart earlier in the week, but then loses his heart momentarily in the 9th inning yesterday when the score is tied and he puts the winning run on 3rd with no outs. But then he gets heart and preserves the tie giving the team a chance in the 10th.

My problem with the “no heart” argument is that it is just an empty statement and one that we as observers watching 3000 miles away on TV have no business making.

People are hesitant to point to injuries because those are excuses, and guys should just step up and fill the void. You can do that to a certain extent, like with Ryan Raburn and Jair Jurrjens. But Raburn or Thames isn’t going to produce like Gary Sheffield no matter how much heart they have.

When a pitchers arm is tired they can go out and gut out a performance, but if Verlander is topping out at 92 then he is topping out at 92 or if Bonderman can’t get the feel for his fastball, he can’t get the feel for his fastball. No amount of heart is going to correct that.

Criticizing a player for a lack of heart or intensity I view to be a much more damning indictment than citing a lack of talent.

If you want to knock a player for stubbornly refusing to make adjustments (I’m thinking Inge and his requisite check-swing strike out per game and Rodriguez refusing to take ball 4 here) that’s fine.
But the complaints about a players reaction after a mistake I just don’t get. If he looks pissed off or frustrated, people complain about that. If he doesn’t react people complain about that as well.

Stephen September 3, 2007 at 1:44 pm

This is from Lynn Henning who has been following the team:

“The Tigers lost Sunday the way they have lost at least a dozen times this season. They did themselves in, and there is no other way to describe it. This off-season is going to require some serious reflections on why so many games got away from a team that literally has tossed away at least 12 games.”

You may want not want to call it heart or something else but Henning’s right: this team has pissed away a ton of games. I actually think focus/intensity is a better word for it. I realize they’ve had a ton of injuries, but they don’t see to have that many players with a high baseball IQ.
Pudge, Inge, Bonderman are all incredibly gifted physically, but they don’t make smart adjustments. Sheffield is a Hall of Famer DH, but he’s bitched and moaned on a half-dozen teams now; that wears on people. Pudge’s constant carping with the umpires just suggests he’s losing his focus on what he’s being paid to do. Timo making a fathom throw to third on Piazza’s hit or Inge going for a non-existent force play is a suggestion that they’re poorly coached or not using your brains. Of course, i can’t prove this empirically but I swear I’ve never seen a team makes so many mental blunders.
I hate the Red Sox and can’t stand their fan base, but they’ve had smart players during their recent glory years: Ortiz, Varitek, and Schilling come to mine. (And i think Schilling is a complete jackass). They go out and play and you watch them and you think; they’re not just players, they’re professionals. I just don’t see those type of guys on the Tigers. I mean you can have a team with screwballs and brontosauraus brained players like Manny Ramierez and David Wells, but you put too many of those type of guys on a team and you have problems.
Our great veterans aren’t leaders. Sheff is always barking to the press, Pudge is always complaining and showing no plate discipline, and as much as Kenny Rogers won me over last year, he has a 20 year rep for being a jerk and much of the league views him as a cheat. I don’t know if Polanco and Guillen are quiet guys by nature or if it’s language barrier, but they don’t seem like the type of guys who can say ‘look, we have to play smart and not let games slip away.’
My fear is that these are not problems tied to injuries, but to the particular mind set of this group of players. This is the second season in row the team has collapsed in the second half. Here’s the pattern of this squad: No one thinks they’re any good, they go 76-36. People raise their expectations, they then go 19-31. People write them off so there’s no pressure. They beat the Yankees. People favor them to win the world series: they commit bonehead play after bonehead play. This year in the low pressure months of April thru June, they kick ass. Once it becomes a pennant race, they collapse again. These guys are great when they’re the equivalent of the ten point road underdog. When they’re favored, not so much.
I don’t know, call it heart, call it what you want. They don’t just play like champions. All of this is arguable and is the great thing about this blog is we can debate it.
The one thing that doesn’t seem debatable is Inge’s body language. He may have heart, he may trying as hard as he can, but I’ve never seen a player look more visibly discouraged as an at-bat goes on. He just looks sad and lost and it would be painful to watch if it wasn’t so infuriating.

cib September 3, 2007 at 2:47 pm

Thanks for the additional thread, Billfer. I’m in Anthony L’s camp. I don’t think it’s a lack of heart or desire. I know every team has injuries but ours have been nonstop this year and at some point while it is not an “excuse” it is a reason – at some point the team just can’t fill all of the gaps consistently, the momentum and rhythm is lost. When JJ had to come out early in his last start, even though we won the game, it hurt overall momentum.
I found yesterday really disheartening and moped around all evening and this morning, but I just packed my change of clothes for tomorrow (I work downtown and go directly to the game) and I’ll be there cheering on my Tigers tomorrow night (right Adam!?)

K-Man September 3, 2007 at 3:11 pm

Well, I think we’ve done “heart” to death now. The pitching has been inconsistent all year now, and injuries have played a part, starting with Kenny Rogers in the spring. 24 different pitchers have pitched for the Tigers this year, and some of them are just not ready for the bigs yet. I have wanted to blame Chuck Hernandez for a while now, but what can he do with so many guys coming and going? Even the guys who have been here all year have been inconsistent. Tough to get any momentum going. Good pitching beats good hitting every time. Last year we had good pitching, this year, not so much.

BobS. September 3, 2007 at 3:25 pm

I think it’s time to recognize that the first half of 2006 and the playoff run(before the World Series debacle) was the anomaly.This is just an average to good team,not a great one.
Most of us here erred in overrating this team collectively and/or as individuals.Although I expected a decline of 5 to 8 wins from the 95 of a year ago,I myself was pretty sure Robertson had turned a career corner and was a certain bet as a #3 starter.While a few guys(Ordonez,Verlander,and Granderson(against RHP at least))have exceeded my own expectations,there were too many giveaway atbats in the lower part of the order(Inge&Monroe in particular)where we were able to steal some games in 2006 that shouldn’t have been hard to anticipate given the careers of who we were dealing with.Bonderman,I just don’t know what’s up with him(nor apparently does his manager,coaches,or catchers).I think it’s way early to give up on him like some apparently have,but we may have to resolve ourselves to him falling short of greatness(which I thought him capable).
I also think age and injuries have alot more to do with it than baseball IQ or leadership.This team was remarkably injury free last year,but remember what seemed to happen when an important cog went down in Boston.While we have 2 first ballot HOFers on this team,neither was going to get there based on their tenure with the Tigers.There was plenty of concern about Sheffield’s age and susceptibility to injury expressed on this blog and elsewhere when he was traded for,which seems well placed in retrospect.At his age(and given his career) there was no way anyone should have expected Rogers to duplicate 2006,even without the injuries.The time without Zumaya and Rodney with the cascading effect on the bullpen and the apparent demoralizing effect on the starters might have been the biggest blow.
Too much went right last year on a team composed largely of aging and mediocre players for this season to be a surprise.

Ryan S September 3, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Interesting stats:

Tigers as a team.

Innings 1-6: .302/.356/.495
Innings 7+: .248/.315/.382

Runs/HRs innings 1-6: 586/126
Runs/HRs Innings 7+: 175/29

ERA/WHIP inning 1-6: 4.76/1.45
ERA/WHIP inning 7+: 4.54/1.45

These stats for the offense definitely say something. I don’t like calling it a lack of heart. But I think this team struggles as pressure mounts. Maybe they press. Maybe they choke. It’s hard to say from a fans perspective, but late inning offense has been a problem. Sure the bullpen has been bad, but the offense rarely picks them up.

As for the pitching…those numbers are just fairly bad across the board.

Bill A \ Kal.MI September 3, 2007 at 4:47 pm

there’s more to it than ability and effort

ya gotta be ready to play

Rodney wasn’t ready Sunday when the boss needed him

and Ryan’s stats might reveal more about our condition than anyone wants to know

Our Tigers do not lack ability. But I definitely agree we should have won half the games we lost in the last 6 weeks

bob September 3, 2007 at 4:52 pm

C.C. Sabathia and Rafael Perez combine for a 6-hit shutout against the Twins…Tribe wins 5-0 and increases its lead to 6 games in the division. Their magic number is now any combination of Indians wins or Tigers losses that adds up to 20.

bob September 3, 2007 at 4:56 pm

Oh, and guess who pitched for the Twins today and lost his fifth start against the Indians this year…Johan Santana. Santana finishes 0-5 with an ERA of 4.38 against the Indians in 2007.

It’s one of those years…

Kurt September 3, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Remember Ryan, this is the same team that played exceptional in the late innings last year. And that’s why sabers aren’t apt to believe in clutch hitting.

Ryan S September 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Well, here’s the numbers from last year.

Innings 1-6: .283/.333/.467 600r/142hr
Innings 7+: .255/.319/.410 222/61

1-6: 3.91era/1.34whip
7+: 3.71/1.27

So the same phenomenon was in evidence last year, though not as drastically. I know these numbers aren’t some kind of perfect answer. And the most glaring thing in these numbers are the differences in the pitching from this year to last.

But we’re talking about (almost) full two seasons of a team wide trend. I like a lot of the saber lines of thought, but I’m skeptical to call this pure chance. Are we really just that unlucky in the late innings for the last two years? I think there might be more to this.

Chris September 3, 2007 at 9:27 pm

Maybe it not correct to say this team simply chokes when the pressures is on. If that were true they would have lost in the first round of last years playoffs against the Yankees. And it’s not totally true that the Tigers choke when they are expected to win by the majority of fans and the media (its is mostly ture, just not completely true). They did sweep the A’s in last years ALCS when they were heavily favored.

I’m beginning to think that the Tigers have a habit of choking, but a habit of choking in spectacular fashion. Last year they did it in the world series against a lame St Louis team (they lost by playing like retards). This year the spectacular crash & burn is being done with a magnificent second half collapse– one that will easily top last years collapse. The Tigers are doing all they can in order to NOT win anything and they are doing it in a way that allows them all to get October off.

This team a disgrace and it is time to completely rebuild. Detroit will never win anything in baseball untill this band of losers are gone and we get a quality core of players who can step up when times get tough.

Can we trade our roster with the Royals’ roster? I would do it in a heartbeat.

Kyle J September 3, 2007 at 9:45 pm

“Can we trade our roster with the Royals’ roster? I would do it in a heartbeat.”

Really? Give me the six guys you like over Granderson, Ordonez, Guillen, Polanco, and Verlander. Does any team in baseball have five guys that have performed at as high a level over the last two years in such a classy manner?

I understand the frustration, but we had the Royals roster three years ago. I definitely like this one better.

Kyle J September 3, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Thankfully I was out of TV/Internet range over the long weekend, so I missed yesterday’s meltdown. After reading what went down , it’s hard not to feel like the season isn’t over at this point, despite only being 2.5 games out in the Wild Card race.

If in fact the season is over, I am sorely disappointed–but let the following not be forgotten:

1) Justin Verlander stumping the Milwaukee Brewers for nine full innings and pitching the first home Detroit Tiger no-hitter in 50+ innings.

2) Carlos Guillen golfing a walk-off home run to send the Yankees home at 3:30 on a Saturday morning.

3) Magglio Ordonez having a season for the ages at the plate.

4) The fact that just 17 months ago, a winning season still seemed like an elusive goal. Expectations have obviously evolved rapidly over those 17 months, but, perversely, the fact that we’re so disappointed today should stand as an accomplishment compared to the dozen years of Detroit baseball that preceded last season.

One more attempt to brighten everyone’s mood: The New York Yankees are 7-9 in games started by their $28 million man to date (one reason we’re only 2.5 games back in the WC race).

cib September 3, 2007 at 10:13 pm

Another item for Kyle’s list of positives:

Curtis Granderson

Chris September 3, 2007 at 10:14 pm

Ok, I do also like Granderson, Ordonez, Guillen, Polanco, and Verlander. I think from a talent standpoint, the Tigers are very impressive while the Royals is pretty pathetic– by comparison that is.

But the question is how much quality play and wins do we get from such talent, compared to the Royals quality play from their pool of talent. Well it is easy to see that the Tigers are underachievers while the Royals are overachievers. Perhaps we should blame the coaches, but I’m beginning to think a lack of chemistry, team commitment and –yes– heart is the main problem. That is why this collapse has been going on for about two months, with no end insight of this piss-poor play. Nobody on this team can step-up and take a leadership role.

So yea, the Royals don’t have the talent the Tigers do, but they play pretty good as a team in spite of that.

And if you were another team and you had a must-win series, who would you want to see on your near term schedule, the Royals or the Tigers? Would you rather have a bunch of scrappy nobody players who just win or would you want a team laced with all-stars who make a habit of losing in creative ways? I know I would much, much rather play the lousy underachieving Tigers over the Royals.

Kyle J September 3, 2007 at 10:39 pm

“Well it is easy to see that the Tigers are underachievers while the Royals are overachievers.”

1) It would have been impossible for the Tigers to overachieve this year, short of a 105-win season and three straight playoff sweeps. We (rightly) expected them to be one of the 3 or 4 best teams in baseball.

2) It would have been impossible for the Royals to underachieve this year. They were expected to be one of the 3 or 4 worst teams in baseball.

If you want to compare the Tigers to someone, compare them to the 2006 White Sox or some other projected contender–comparing them to the Royals really isn’t going to yield a lot of insight.

And, BTW, were the Tigers overachievers last year? Did the 20 or so players who played for the team both last year and this year change their stripes that quickly? This gets back to the thing about “heart.” If, in fact, it does exist, it’s hard for me to believe you turn it off and on at a moment’s notice. The Tigers must have had it on for the first 2/3 of the season last year. And then turned it off down the stretch–they must have flat out misplaced it for the KC series. Then they found it and turned it back on for the Yankees and A’s series but ran out of it again for the World Series.

At the end of the day, you just have to conclude that for all the reasons baseball can be so thrilling, it can also kick you in the butt for no good reason whatsoever.

Kathy September 3, 2007 at 10:51 pm

Every once in a while I try to remind myself of the good things this year: the no-no, Magglio’s MVP status, Polly and Grandy’s play. But I’d throw them all in a garbage can to get into the playoffs. Some of these guys must feel like that, but some of them might not.

Kathy September 3, 2007 at 10:54 pm

That sounds kinda crazy after reading it. I meant to say I’d throw away all those individual accomplishments in a garbage can (not the individuals) to go the playoffs.

Night all.

T Smith September 3, 2007 at 11:37 pm

This team does not believe. It’s obvious. There is no Championship Identity; at best, there is a Cinderella Identity. The question to DD, Leyland, et at., should be, “… how do you motivate Cinderella?”

The 2006 team is a perfect example: You have a team just three years removed from the 2003 season, which most analysts pegged as a .500 team, third place, at best. Then you get the unbelievable run, followed by the shifting eyes of the baseball world, then the collapse (we really can’t be THAT good, can we?), followed by a shadow of billiance to refute the collapse (hell yeah we’re that good!). Then when the baseball world finally reshifts its stance (again) and deems the team “legit” you get the WS debacle/collapse. I said it last year; I’ll repeat it here: The Cardinals did not beat the Tigers last year in the WS; the Tigers beat the Tigers. The same can be said of the 2007 season. D is for Destiny. This team will win or lose all by itself, without the aid of an opposing team. The Tigers have continually beat themselves all year, to the tune of a dozen or more games. It’s literally the differnce between a six game lead in the division to a six game deficit. This team simply does not believe it is a championship team. Consider: the team reaches a zenith — it finally acheives the best record in baseball and nearly unanimous status as the best team in baseball, and then almost instantaniously, it exhales. The very next day (literally) it begins yet another monumental collapse. That can’t be coincidence. Something is at play here.

Granderson, who some argue as the “face” of the Tigers, said it best (I’m paraphrasing), on the 2006 run: “We all knew we were gonna win some games, we just didn’t know how many…but nobody really expected this…” Coming from 2003 to 2006, and into a neurotic 2007 team, there’s just no consistant identity on this team. Nobody REALLY knows just how good or bad this team really is. And when your closer continually makes things interesting (regardless of saves/blown saves) and proceeds to blow a four run lead to your biggest rival, it shakes the foundation of confidence in the team. Can our closer actually perserve our hard-fought leads? Regardless of putting up runs like a championship team, are we really going to win? And when the bullpen alone converts a four game winning streak to a four game losing streak, it shakes the foundation of confidence in the team. There is suddenly a breech in confidence. And when the first breech in the dam isn’t repaired at trade deadline, it shakes the foundation of the confidence further and threatens the entire infrastructure. Does the upper echelon in the organization believe we are a championship team? Continual stress on the foundation renders other cracks and leaks that otherwise might have played out without incident. Suddendly, the starting core catches the bug. Are we a championship team? Some among the rotation can’t escape the first inning without conceding runs. Others pitch like Cy Young one game, while hosting batting practice the next game. Then the offense catches the bug. They are the ’27 Yankees one game (to cite Rod Allen) and the 2003 Tigers the next game. Then your already suspect 7, 8, 9 hitters catch the bug. You compound the mental aspect of the game upon already suspect abilities, and you get, say, a very athletic and physically talented, albeit suspect major league baseball player to being with, whiff 40% of the time, mostly during clutch at-bats. You get a HOF catcher free swinging at the glory days in atempt to regain his stroke. You get a jaded and hardened self-serving HOFer retreat from his deep-seated desire to connect and contribute altruistically to a team, back to his self-serving ways. Who among them can really afford to get too emotionally attached to this Jeckle and Hyde team? That’s what’s happening here.

The pattern unfolding is purely mental, folks. This is a team that needs a long session with a couch and an intimate understaniding of the Freudian stages of development. In laymen’s terms — absolutley — there is no heart on this team right now. That’s not to say they aren’t trying … and that’s not to say they’re conceding defeat; it is only to say they don’t believe. No one truly believes this team can win day to day. It’s really that simple.

Andrew September 4, 2007 at 12:42 am

I still believe. It’s called being a fan. Baseball is a game, and it’s supposed to be fun. I gotta think all this negative energy can’t be helping things, if something so elusively defined as “heart” is deciding whether we win games right now. Just enjoy the fact that we’re in a hell of a pennant race right now. 2.5 games out from a playoff spot, last I checked. How many of you would have given and arm and a leg for a season where we were just CONTENDING less than 2 years ago, let alone being that close in the race. Kenny’s coming back. Sheffield may be on his way soon too.

Just Believe.

Did we already forget about the Cardinals last year?

It’s a funny sport.

Greg September 4, 2007 at 1:22 am

I think sometimes we try to oversimplify things. Sweeping statements are made. “They don’t have heart”, or “Nobody can say they don’t have heart because nobody knows”.

What is certain is there have been different levels of intensity/focus. I’ve seen it change from day to day, from one stretch of innings to another. I’ve seen this in every team in baseball. Its palpable, and to deny this reality is absurd, in my humble opinion. Discouragement, frustration, any number of things can cause this. I’ve seen more than one game this year in which the opposition had a huge lead, had a big rally, etc. and, you can ‘feel’ the air let out of the baloon, they’ve ‘started up the bus’ so to speak. They don’t ‘believe’ they can win a certain game. But even within one of those games, on occassion, someone might make a play, a diving catch, or someone ‘sparks’ a rally. These things can change on a dime.

Really though, nobody knows whats going to happen the next day. I don’t know if they’ll make the playoffs or not, but it CERTAINLY wouldn’t be surprising. Countless times I’ve seen outlooks MUCH more bleak than this. A team is snake bit, Murphy’s law is in effect, and then, they snap out of it.

With everything that has gone wrong, they’re only 2 games(loss column) out of the wild card. That’s nothing. They control their own destiny. They just have to play like their capable of playing. Verlander’s velocity is back. He hit 99 on the radar according to one report. That’s a very good sign. Bonderman has been better. Those 2 things alone are huge. As everyone knows, Rogers will be back Wednesday. If he’s merely halfway decent, that will be HUGE. 16 of their next 22 games are at home….think about that. Their next homestand includes 2 last place teams(Texas and Chicago), plus Seattle has lost 9 of 10, perfect timing.

Even the divison title is not out of reach, if they sweep the Indians(a tuff assignment, but certainly doable, with 6 series sweeps this year, including the Red Sox, it wouldn’t be surprising) they’d only need to make up 3 games the rest of the way.

Things can change in a hurry, NEVER give up. Don’t create negative mojo. Go out to Comerica Park, and be louder than ever. Make it louder than it was for game 4 vs. Oakland last year.

Where are the ‘Tug McGraws’?! Ya gotta believe!

When Seattle comes to town, I want every Mariner from Jose Guillen to Kenji Johjima to be deaf from the Roar of Tiger fans!

ron September 4, 2007 at 2:26 am

In the next 6 games, the Tigers play 2 teams who are combined 3 and 17 in the last two weeks. We are 8 and 12 in the last two weeks. The Mariners and we are fighting for our playoff lives. We are at home and should really be fired up and do well and play Cleveland next week on a high note. The Yankees are not playing that well lately. The Tigers can make up ground quickly. Hopefully, they have it in them. Or it’s back to the heart thing for a few people. They can put all that to rest. It’s time for them to shine.

Bill A \ Kal MI September 4, 2007 at 9:18 am

okl this holiday crap is overwith let’s get back to play baseball

Coach Jim September 4, 2007 at 10:42 am

Greg has it nailed.

So today are you happy the Tigers are over .500 and in a pennant-chase? Or are you so short-term-oriented you can’t see past the last loss? If you’re whining today…

Baseball is a long-haul sport. Mike Valenti and his New York, immediate-gratification attitude are a sure way to run a team into the ground.

Have patience, put your team together and SEE HOW THEY DO.

BobS. September 4, 2007 at 11:08 am

Kyle J,
if I may make a minor correction to your comment.We (wrongly) expected the Tigers to be “one of the 3 or 4 best teams in baseball” by incorrectly assuming every player (excepting Sheffield) would automatically repeat their essentially injury-free and in some instances career-best 2006 season .We should have (rightly) expected the Tigers to be one of the 3 or 4 best teams in the AL Central.As grown-ups,it’s often required of us to accept some brutal realities-in this instance,that the 24 game turnaround of last year was a FLUKE.Among the other shortcomings of the 2007 Tigers,”one of the 3 or 4 best teams in baseball” does not have Todd Jones as their closer and the powerful duo of Inge(and his most-bestest-ever miraculous 162-gamesaving defensive prowess notwithstanding) and Casey at the infield corners.

Kurt September 4, 2007 at 11:36 am

Kinda funny how the Tigers fluked their way to the within one win of the best record in baseball at the All-Star Break then, isn’t it?

And what a fluke it must have been they scored all those runs when their lineup was healthy.

If you think the Tigers’ winning is due to a fluke, you’re deceiving yourself and trying to deceive others.

Stephen September 4, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Man, i’m not sure how it’s is short-terme oriented to be disappointed when this team has played miserably for two months. i’d call that fairly long term. And you want long term? We are a game or two under .500 since 8/06.

ron September 4, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Very long term for fans who are used to bad teams but not good teams playing bad baseball. They just have to play “hearty” baseball for the next 3 weeks, get into the playoffs and win the World Series. This is a window of oppurtunity that may not come around for a long time again.

Kyle J September 4, 2007 at 1:00 pm

What’s magical about 8/06, Stephen?

With basically the same group of players, the Tigers are 168-127 since the beginning of 2006. That’s a winning % of .569, which translates to 92 wins over a 162-game season. That’s probably a pretty good gauge of the baseline ability of the team. And that’s why I’m disappointed we’re probably not going to make the playoffs–although I chalk it up more to injuries and bad breaks than to a lack of “heart.”

Your argument seems to be that this team is fundamentally mediocre–a .500 team. If that’s the case, what’s to be upset about?

Bill A \ Kal MI September 4, 2007 at 1:23 pm

ok Bondo will throw tonite

and we’ll find out shortly if he still has that page from the playbook that sez throw strikes — let them get themselves out

we have a month in front of us and a lot of good games. and every game is an opportunity for us to make evaluations

and these evaluations should be directed more at training and coaching than at anything else. there is plenty of ability the key is to use that ability effectively!

BobS. September 4, 2007 at 2:03 pm

I specifically wrote that the 24 game turnaround from ’05 to ’06 was a fluke,which I think is borne out by their second half fades of both seasons as well as the atrocious quality of their recent play.The self deception accusation would seem to apply more to those who compare the team to the ’27 Yankees,or one player to Willie Mays and another to Pedro Martinez.
There’s nothing particularly magical about 8/06.However,that impressive won-lost record you cite is bulked up by the first part of the ’06 season.And what’s so magical about the beginning of 2006?Since the beginning of 2005,with many of the same group of players,the Tigers are 239-222,which reflects what I’ve argued they are-an average to good team,not one of the 3 or 4 best in baseball.I would agree that 92 wins is their ceiling,with them more likely to win the 88 or less that I bet on.

Stephen September 4, 2007 at 2:53 pm

Well Kyle, I guess that’s looking at the glass half full. Beginning after their 76-36 miracle start, they’re 92-91 which seems to be a statistically significant amount. My argument isn’t that the talent is mediocre, it’s not, but that the players are chronically underachieving ’cause they’re a bunch of head cases run by a by-the-whim manager and overseen by a GM who made no moves to shore up the team’s weaknesses. In 2007, they’ve been run like a mismanaged corporation.

cib September 4, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Guys. In less than 3 hours I’m leaving the office and walking over to the ballpark. If I read anymore of these comments I’ll be officially clinically depressed. No More Under This Thread!! Billfer, let’s put up the thread for tonight and Go Tigers, Beat the Whitesox!!! lol – thanks

Kurt September 4, 2007 at 3:51 pm

“The self deception accusation would seem to apply more to those who compare the team to the ‘27 Yankees,or one player to Willie Mays and another to Pedro Martinez.”

Admittedly, maybe I missed those comments. I don’t read every single comment. It’s possible someone said the Tigers were the 27 Yankees. But I really don’t remember it. Care to offer evidence of those claims?

Kyle J September 4, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Who exactly has underachieved?

Bonderman
Inge
Monroe (before his departure)
Pudge (marginally)
Middle relievers

And who has overachieved?

Ordonez
Polanco
Guillen (compared to career #s, at least)
Granderson (have to look at overall #s)
Verlander (compared to potential sophomore slump we all feared)

Who has been hurt?

Rogers
Zumaya
Rodney
Sheffield

I’m willing to call the players in the first group “head cases.” Bonderman’s performance, in particular, has really hurt the team down the stretch.

But to label the entire team in that manner is a gross oversimplification. There’s been plenty of overachieving, too, and injuries have certainly played a role.

And again I have to ask what moves you wanted Dombrowski to make. Which first and third basemen were available this offseason to replace Casey and Inge? Was getting Sheffield a significant move? Which reliever would have been a difference maker at the stretch? (Obviously there was no way to predict how bad Gagne would be, but it does point to the fact that there’s no such thing as a sure thing in the world of relief pitching.)

Kyle J September 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm

Sorry for adding to your depression with that last post, cib.

Here’s hoping we can kick the White Sox when they’re down. Adding to Ozzie’s misery would provide a small measure of consolation.

cib September 4, 2007 at 4:36 pm

No, actually Kyle, it’s a spot-on analysis. Personally I think the second injury to Kenny, and, surprisingly, losing Jair J. when he was providing a bit of a spark, some excitement, some hope – were two of the most significant injuries. As I’ve commented in other threads, right, they’re pros and you don’t use injuries as an excuse but at some point when there is a new one almost, what, twice a week, collectively it becomes too much to overcome.

colin September 4, 2007 at 5:44 pm

I can’t agree that Dombrowski has mismanaged the Tigers. What I do see is someone who is absolutely unwilling to sell the years 2009-2014 for a better chance at a title in 2007. As an armchair GM i agree with most of his moves. He does not seem to commit the typical GM mistakes of underrating prospects and overrating middle relief. There are a lot of teams in baseball that I could not follow day to day because their personnel moves are just too frustrating. The Tigers are not one of them.

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