20 October, 2013

On Baseball

This is more than a slight departure from what I normally write about, so hang with me.....

Baseball is a funny sport.

It's a game that can be decided on one swing, a misstep, a bobbled ball and yes, I'm going to go there, on an umps wandering strike zone.

Last night was Detroit's last game for the 2013 season. It's been shall we say, an odd season for the Tigers. Unlike other fans and sports writers (please note, I am NOT putting myself in the same category as a sports writer--I don't know enough stats or random information for that) I refuse to call it a disappointing season.

I've been a fan of the game for as long as I can remember. I know I've talked about it before, but I don't remember a time when I wasn't a Detroit Tigers fan. And any fan will tell you there are ups and downs with your favorite team, things to cheer about and things to groan about. But I'm one of those who goes for the cheers, no matter how dismal things may be.

On paper, this morning the Tigers should be preparing for the 2013 World Series against St. Louis. On paper Justin Verlander should have had another lights out season, with one of the highest win to loss ratios, highest numbers of strikeouts and lowest ERA's. On paper, Miggy should have won the Triple Crown again, Prince (along a few of the other guys) should have had a +.300 avg season been one of the leading RBI's guys in the majors and Peralta's post-drug suspension performance in the post-season should be guaranteeing him another year with the Tigers.

Instead, Verlander had an o.k. season by his standards, Miggy was more of a liability because of his injuries/lack of speed than he was helpful down the stretch. Prince, well, I think we all know how hard it can be with personal matters even if there is a job to be done. Peralta’s future with the organization is up in the air. And instead of getting ready for the seven game set with St. Louis they are packing their bags and heading home for the winter.

But that lack of success isn't the whole picture.

Expectations are hard. Anything short of a World Series win for this team would be a disappointment. They were SUPPOSED to win it all this year. Who cares that there are 20 teams that didn't make it to the post season. Or that they won the AL Central Division for the 3rd year in a row. Or that Scherzer will likely win the CY Young this year (side note: if he doesn't win, I will lose what little faith I have left in the Universe). Sanchez led in the AL with lowest ERA and Miggy had the highest batting average, on-base plus slugging percentage, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

It would be ridiculous to say that I don’t have an “off-season wishlist” for changes I’d like to see made for this team. They need a closer. I appreciate Benoit’s attempt at filling this role (how the front office thought they could get away with NOT signing someone in the off-season last year is beyond me), but it just didn’t quite work out in the end. A left with a good, consistent bat would be great. And a new lead-off man. Jackson hitting lower in the line-up the last few games was one of the best moves Leyland could have done and it showed in Jacksons patience at the plate. I’m not sure putting him back to lead off would be a great move. There will be many who feel I have left off “a new manager” from my list but on this area I’m torn. I like Leyland. His players like/respect him. I like some of his moves. I like that he is willing to change things up (i.e. the line-up shuffle) and I like that he takes responsibility when things don’t go as planned. I’d be o.k. with him back for 2014 and yes, I am likely the only one.

Last night Justin Verlander posted the following tweet:

All I can say is “Thank you” back. It’s not the season we wanted, but it was still a good one and I am counting down the days until the 2014 season begins.


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