First, may I say that it is good to be back! Okay, I will be honest, I really didn’t go anywhere, the blog has always been here. However, I did take a step back to see things from another perspective. Yes, that is exactly what I did! It wasn’t planned. Life became busier as downsizing at work added more to my plate and other aspects of my life demanded more of my attention. All of that is neither here nor there and I am sure you could care what I have been through. YOU want opinions and news about your Detroit Tigers. There is nothing wrong with that!
Someone once said that we are given two ears and one mouth in order that we might listen more often than we speak. There is truth to that. As I followed the Detroit Tigers throughout the 2012 season, I listened more. I read more blogs and news articles, and I had my ear to the ground, listening to the expressed opinions of those people around me. I wrote less – gave less of my own opinion. It allowed me to not only enjoy the game a little more, because I had no pressure to write a rushed thought to a blog, but I had time to think about what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it. It also gave me time to think about which direction I wanted to take the DeeTown Tigers blog.
So beginning today DeeTown Tigers has a new cover photo, it has a slightly different look, and it has a new perspective about the Tigers. Welcome to 2013!
Welcome to DeeTown Tigers 2013!
I’ll have to admit that while everyone kept ranting and raving about the Tigers of last year, I was cautiously optimistic about the chances that they had in getting all the way to the finish line as a winner. I embraced the run they made in the ALDS against the Athletics. And, by the way, let me say I thought that the Tiger’s handling of Brandon Inge (unceremoniously releasing him while holding on to an I-just-can’t hit-the-ball-no-matter-how-hard-I-try Ryan Raburn) was despicable.
The Tigers weren’t able to produce many runs (726 runs scored – they should have easily exceeded 800 with this lineup) throughout the season. Privately, among friends, I had dubbed the malaise as “The Curse of the Brandino” (a play on words… we all know of the “Curse of the Bambino”). I thought this “curse” might eventually come to haunt us in that series. Thankfully, it did not.
I was shaking my head, like a lot of you guys were, when they swept the mighty Yanks (4-0) in the Championship Series to advance to the fall classic. (Wow, did they just do THAT?)
Then, when push came to shove against the Giants, sadly, I felt that they had no real fight left in them. It showed in the way they played.
Arguably, the 2012 Tigers had one of the best lineups in major league baseball. They had a Triple Crown winner in third baseman Miguel Cabera, a hitting giant at first base in Prince Fielder, and they had an MVP in a post-seasonal surging Delmon Young. Also, let’s not forget about our phenomenal outfielder Austin Jackson.
Add to that defensive mix a lethal rotation led by Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64 ERA). They had Doug Fister and Max Scherzer. The three starters kicked ass during the regular season. In July, the Tigers picked up a somewhat reliable Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 3.74) – whom I liked, for pitcher Jacob Turner. His record and ERA are deceptive, Sanchez pitched better than his stats show. He gave up just two runs in game three of the ALDS, yet still lost as the Tigers offense couldn’t score a run. That was the way it went for him during most of the season.
Phil Coke stepped it up in the post season in what was supposed to be a “closer by committee” role after Jose Valverde fell apart. Coke was a guy who scared the shit out of me during the regular season whenever he came into a game. During the post season I gave more than my share of high-fives to friends after watching him hurl in the role.
Those were the pluses. On the downside…
Defensively, Omar Infante, who was an All-Star a couple of years ago with the Braves, sometimes had that deer-in-the headlights-rookie-look. He committed ten errors and had a .963 fielding percentage. Believe me, this was a guy that I endorsed when he returned home to Detroit. And, don’t misunderstand where I am going with this. I still want him in Detroit. I am only talking numbers from last year. I truly want him to be the second baseman in 2013. Last year though, he could have been better.
Finally, I bring up Jose Valverde even though I would rather not – only because the mere thought of what he became in the end still pisses me off and makes me call for the ouster of every manager in the American League Central, National League, Little League, and in every McDonald’s restaurant – and for no other reason than it just does!
There are others who didn’t step up – Dirks, Berry, and Avila to name a few. But I am writing a blog post not a book. So I will stop there.
With all that said, the bottom line for me is that these guys hadn’t quite jelled as a team. I never felt it – even when the the White Sox tanked and Detroit surged. But, and let me capitalize that – BUT this year WILL be different. It HAS to be. Let’s face it, with the exception of new right fielder (Torii Hunter) and a healthy Victor Martinez back in the lineup, this year’s Tigers won’t differ much from last year’s Tigers. What I am hoping – actually, what I believe – is that they will be a team that knows one another better. You can go on until Kingdom comes about how they liked each other. Just look at how the two biggest players, Cabrera and Fielder, acted toward one another. Sure, they had their fist bumps, body bumps when one hit a home run. It was lovely to watch. No doubt. Still there is no jelling without adversity. Without something to inspire them and bond them there is nothing. Another full season together will give them that. This past off season should have given them time to think and reflect on what could have been and where they want their team to go. Sort of like the reflecting that I did last season about my blog.
In 2013 they will be hungrier. They won’t rely on the media and fan hype as much as they will the reality of who they are as a team. They will be better.
They will be great.