Monday, May 29, 2006

Tiger Style

After putting the finishing touches on Omaha, we can now turn our attention back to Major League baseball and our intriguing encounter with the Detroit Tigers. Believe it or not, the previous series against Boston and the Mets did little for me, as I feel I've seen both of those teams more than I care to for a while. Both are old stories that are better saved for later in the year when the pressure of every game is more acutely felt. Now is the time for the unknown. The Tigers are certainly that.

After losing 90 or more games 8 of the last 11 seasons, the Tigers appear to have turned things around in 2006. They sport the best record in baseball as of today at 35-15 and seem to be clicking on all cylinders. The last time the boys from Motown finished a season over .500 was 1993, and the last time they won a division was (hold on to your hats) 1987. Ouch. Almost 20 years since they sniffed a pennant. To me that's a sad state of affairs. There are certain cornerstone franchises that should be good. The Yankees and Red Sox should be good. St. Louis should be good. Detroit should be good. The city of Detroit has seen hard times. It's a rough and tumble industrial town that owes its misfortune largely to the greed of corporate executives who move American jobs to overseas sweatshops where there is no such thing as Union Labor. There oughtta be a law.

The Pistons have done that city proud. The Red Wings have done that city proud. The Lions have.....well.....who's damn bright idea was it to install a run and shoot offense in a smashmouth city anyway? Bring back the tough in Detroit football willya? Anyway, the Tigers have a long and proud tradition. The old Tiger Stadium was a testament to poor planning, but was a cathedral of baseball's midwest religion. Guys like Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, and Al Kaline defined the franchise in its legendary early days, and the torch was carried brilliantly into the mid-1980's by Alan Trammel, Lou Whitaker, Lance Parrish, Jack Morris, and Sparky Anderson. What happened from there is a crime against baseball.

That brings us to modern day 2006. A team led by the greatest catcher of all time, Ivan Rodriguez, is standing on top of the baseball world. Believe me when I say the greatest catcher of all time. I mean it. I've never seen a better player at that position from both sides of the plate, and let's face it...Florida won the World Series against the Yankees with a pitching lineup of Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, Carl Pavano, Mark Redman, and Brad Penny. That was I-Rod's only year with the Fish and they went 91-71. The year before they were 79-83, and the year after they finished 83-79. Texas never had a lick of pitching when Pudge was leading the show, but they managed to win 3 divisions with guys like Ken Hill, Bobby Witt, Rick Helling, Aaron Sele, and John Burkett heading the rotation. Kenny Rogers has had his most productive seasons throwing the ball to Rodriguez, and has led a young rotation of good pitchers for the Tigers this year. It seems that Bonderman, Robertson, and Verlander have more than 9 letter last names in common. They have found a groove pitching to Ivan Rodriguez.

The Yankees are playing well entering the series. They haven't been the awe-inspiring Bronx Bombers with all the injuries they are dealing with, but they have showed some fire and scrap in winning some hard fought games. Randy "Chet" Johnson will get the nod in the series opener, and what can you say? Good luck? Don't break a leg? Duck? Who knows what we're going to see out there. If past history is any indicator, perhaps we'll see the Tigers hit 3 or 4 homers but lose 9-8. The Yanks do score for The Big Obit. Let's hope the bats are working. Go get 'em stretch.


Yu Hsing Chen said...

Well, the real Randy Johnson showed up today, thank god, and a nice team effort propelled the Yankees to a nice little 4-0 victory.

Now... hold on to ur magic carpets as Aaron Small tries to find if he has any magic left and/or if he can get the devils back on his side

mars2001 said...

Dude... you gotta do an update for the RJ game.. sure, it wasn't his best pitching performance ever, but it looks like he's back on track & pretty pissed that everyone's calling him washed up...

"One good game doesn't make a whole year," Johnson bristled. "But five or six bad games for me doesn't make a year, either. It doesn't mean I'm done."

Then again, maybe if NY keeps talking about how old/dilapidated he is - the Yanks will unload him & a newly motivated RJ will win a Cy in '07 whilst knocking the Yanks out of the playoffs... on second thought, keep it up. :)