photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
It’s sad that the season is over (for us), but what a way to end it, eh? It would have been nice to do that for, say, the last three games, as opposed to only the very last one, but at least we ended it on a high note of offensive anti-Wrong Sox mastery.
The big story, of course, is Magglio Ordonez, aka The Hirsute Hero, aka The Long-Locked Wonder, aka The Answer to the Question ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’ for Some of You, aka 2007 AMERICAN LEAGUE BATTING CHAMPION. Magglio Ordonez: man? myth? legend? I’ll take option D– ALL OF THE ABOVE. He ended the season with a .363 batting average. Wolf whistles welcome.
You and I know full well that batting average is not a good way to get a comprehensive look at a player’s value on the field (I misspelled at least 5 words in that sentence fragment, including a mash-up of ‘on’ and ‘the’ into some mutant word that looked like ‘onthne’. This was how I knew it was time for me to go to sleep and finish this post in the morning. 100% fact), but that’s why the Batting Title is so nice. It has no pretensions. It doesn’t really try to say, “this ballplayer is the best hitter.” All it does is say, “this dude had the highest batting average at the end of the season, and that is something to celebrate.” It says, “I don’t really care if the dude was hitting home runs or dribbling singles, the point is that he put his bat on the ball in a productive way a lot this year and that is a separate skill.” It says, “boo yah! Eat it, Mauer.”
This is what we love about Magglio (aside from the hair): even though he pretty much knew he had the batting title locked up, he still stayed in the game for 5 at-bats, going 3-for-4 with a walk and 2 RBI just to really stick it to Ichiro. Leyland pinch ran for him in the 8th and even some of the Chicago fans cheered. The Spanish-language broadcast was going completely nuts; some of those guys must’ve been Venezuelan.
Magglio wasn’t the only story, though.
“It might’ve been the strangest day ever,” Gary Sheffield said. “I’d never seen so many guys do something on a particular day that could’ve been done two days ago. Just to do all these types of things, it was just crazy.”
It was a big day for Venezuela in general on the Tigers, because not only did Magglio win the Batting Title, but Carlos Guillen also became the first Venezuelan shortstop to get 100 RBI in a season. That might not seem like much to someone like ARod, but for someone like Carlos, who hits fewer than half as many home runs as ARod does, it’s a pretty fine feat. Of course the fact that he was able to get 100 RBI speaks well of his teammates too– those guys had to be on base for him to bat them in.
Placido Polanco got his 200th hit, making this the first time he’s done that in his career. He ended the season with a .341 average… it’s insane to think that a guy batting .341 does not have the best average on the team, but that’s the 2007 Tigers for ya. He ALSO secured for himself an errorless season in the field by not overtly screwing anything up. He ALSO continued to be relentlessly adorable:
“When you retire, that’s what you take home with you, your friendships,” Polanco said. “My friends, my teammates showed that they really wanted me to get it so bad. They stood up, and when I got the base hit, [Chicago’s Paul] Konerko told me at first base, ‘I can tell your teammates don’t like you.’ Because everybody was up in the dugout cheering for me. I started crying.”
How exactly did we get him from the Phillies again?
You think maybe I’m winding this down, but NO. MORE Tigers reached milestones in this game.
Curtis Granderson went 3-for-4 on the day, pushing his average up to .302. It doesn’t really MEAN anything different if your average for the year is .299 or .300, but baseball is like that. You want to bump it up to that next level. I guess saying, “Oh yeah, I hit .300 last season,” sounds a lot better than, “I hit .299.” And, hey, once he hit .300, Granderson refused to come out of the game. He wanted to get his proper at-bats in even though going hitless might have meant that he’d slide back into the .200s. Curtis Granderson plays baseball the Right Way.
So not only did Granderson hit 23 home runs and 23 triples and 38 doubles, he also stole 26 bases, and he ALSO hit .302 on the year. Curtis Granderson is 26 years old.
Am I done? Not quite!
In amidst all this offensive splendor, these enormous roaring tigers of the bat, there was a scrawny little backup tiger. Not a very strong tiger. You know, maybe the other tigers always got to the prey animals first, so he never had anything fresh to eat, so he was also scavenging leftovers like a hyena, and this made him malnourished and weak. It’s just nature.
But today this powerless little tiger finally roared. Mike Rabelo hit his first career home run.
It was pretty awesome; the ball went over the bullpen and the guys out there went COMPLETELY insane, like this was the most exciting thing to happen to them in weeks. Heck, who knows, maybe it was. Virgil Vasquez actually CLIMBED THE BULLPEN FENCE in his excitement. You get the feeling that they’d been ragging on him an awful lot about this, and that just made them even happier when he finally poked one out.
That pretty much wraps it up for the offensive points of interest, but it would be unfortunate if we overlooked Nate’s start (fairly solid, 6.2 innings of 3-run ball) and, more especially, Jason Grilli’s performance. Grilli pitched 2.1 innings. He allowed one hit (a single). He walked no one, and he struck out 4. I know that we’ve had a love-hate relationship with Grilli for most of the season (or, well, just ‘hate’ for a lot of you), but what a statement to end the season, eh? Of course it’ll be overlooked due to the fact that the Tigers decided to rewrite the record books with their bats in the last game of the season, but it definitely deserves mention.
Now, rest assured: Roar of the Tigers is NOT shutting down for the offseason or anything crazy like that. There’s plenty to talk about (already news of who’s coming back next year and who isn’t is trickling through. I’ll address some of that in my next post, probably), and I do like to talk about it. Even during the slowest points of the offseason I’ll probably be posting about 3 times a week… and remember, the less there is to actually talk about, the more insane and irrelevant things I’ll be posting. Get psyched!