photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
Noooooo Miguel, run faster! The Void is right behind you!!
I don’t know about you guys, but nothing says ‘September in tha D’ to me quite like a sweep at the hands of the Royals. Spectacular. Today we made Brian Bannister look like a golden god as well, but let’s face it, we’re making everyone look golden and deity-esque at the moment. Everyone except for us.
How good does Tampa Bay feel right now? They barely have to do anything to secure their division once and for all, because they play the Tigers for the last four games of the regular season. That must be a nice feeling. I hope they are enjoying how that feels.
As for us, we struggle now only to escape the Void. What is the Void? I actually have no idea. It is not last place in the division, because lo and behold, we’re already there. Is it 90 losses? Maybe. It could be 90 losses. The Void is your darkest fears, your saddest memories, your most potent hatred. The Void is emptiness. Blackness. Blankness. Nothingness eternal and infinite.
This is all sapping my ability to post a vaguely coherent blog with some sort of narrative holding one paragraph to the next. Unconnected thoughts shall follow.
The difference between this year and 2003, aside from the fact that we were actually worse in 2003, is the enormous gap between SHOULD-HAVE-BEEN and IS. The Tigers were catawful in 2003, but that wasn’t much of a surprise, because the players in 2003 were catawful. We are so bad in 2008, but it wasn’t supposed to go down like this. These players are not that bad. To be quite honest, the record the Tigers have this season surprises me almost every day. Almost every day when I look at it I am shocked all over again, because the mental construct I have of this team is not a team that posts that kind of record. Obviously I’m delusional to some extent, but the fact that a disconnect that large exists… I don’t know how that happens.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Todd Jones is retiring at the end of this season. We all knew this was coming, but it bears mentioning anyways. Say what you will about the Rollercoaster (and I’ve probably said it), but he did manage to get those saves, even if he almost killed us every time he went out there. A healthy Rollercoaster, even in full Rollercoastering form, would be a marked improvement over the bullpen shenanigans we’ve got going on right now. Alas, life is what it is and is nothing more, and the same is true of the bullpen.
There’s a lot of debate right now surrounding Jim Leyland, and whether or not he should be the manager of the Tigers next season. I fall on the side of ‘yes, keep him’. Do you guys honestly think another manager would have done better with these players? That’s the big question. I’m not saying that Leyland is the most super awesome magical manager ever, and I’m not saying that he’s completely free of blame for this season… heck, LEYLAND isn’t saying that:
“I’m going to tell you the facts: I stink,” he [Leyland] said. “With the year we’ve had, I stink. But I can tell you one thing: I ain’t the Lone Ranger.”
Later, he added: “If anybody says we shouldn’t be feeling pressure around here, we should be. We deserve to be. That certainly includes me.”
Jon Paul Morosi/Detroit Free Press
I don’t agree with everything that Leyland has done. I think he played some guys too much when they should have been sitting (Sheff), and I have a well-documented hate for the way that he has (mis)handled Justin Verlander’s arm this season. The whole Guillen/Cabrera defensive position mess was just that – a huge friggin’ mess – and could have been handled a lot better, but I don’t know how much of the blame for that should be laid squarely on Leyland himself, as opposed to the rest of the FO.
I DO think that Leyland has done some good things as a manager. He’s managed personalities fairly well, and has kept several potentially deeply toxic situations (Inge vs. catching, whatever the hell was going on with the closer position at various times throughout the season, anything and everything involving Pudge or Sheff) from becoming cancerous. He hasn’t been afraid to yell at people if he thinks they need yelling at (although it would have been nice to see him equally unafraid to bench guys if he thought they had acted badly enough to be yelled at).
When a purportedly good team is THIS bad, it’s natural to want to blame the manager. After all, the players are not supposed to be this bad, so the fault must be elsewhere, and who else could affect the players more than the manager? But the manager can only do so much. At the end of the day he can’t go out there and bat leadoff. He can’t go out there and pitch the 9th inning. And he can’t MAKE any of the Tigers hit, or walk, or strike guys out.
So I don’t think Leyland is the perfect manager. But I don’t think that many (maybe ANY) other managers would have done significantly better with this team, with these injuries, this season, and so I don’t think that firing Leyland is the answer.
Nate should not be starting games right now. I understand that we’re throwing him out onto the mound simply because it doesn’t matter anymore at this point and what we need is a simple warm body, but I would have rather seen Lambert start today, or Inge, or ANYONE. It’s not OK to keep throwing Nate out there just because that’s what we’ve been doing. There are only four games left so it’s not like this matters now anyways, but I’m just putting my general irritability over this fact on record.
Thursday. 1:05 pm EDT. Arrrrrrmando Galarrrrrrraga vs. Scott Kazmir. Legitimate pitching duel, or lolarious shellacking? That is up to the Tigers. We only wish to elude the Void. Go Tigers!