Faster pussycat…

I had been planning to reply to your last post in detail, Mr. Lung, but then I read an article this morning (which you actually sent me) and it seems to be a direct rebuttal of several of your points. I’ll keep myself from restating everything in the article but I do want to hit on a few issues it addresses.

The implicit dilemma for the Tigers at the beginning of this season is something you introduce but don’t expand on in your countdown of the top payrolls. It’s an obvious problem but many free-spending major league teams neglect to take into account the team aspect of throwing together a bunch of superstars or they don’t have a manager who commands enough respect to pull all the disparate parts together. However, I think that Dombrowski was smart enough to consider these issues while putting together his team and, as a result, these Tigers are well positioned to overcome this potential downfall. This isn’t the spend whatever to get whatever aesthetic of the evil empire. This is baseball General Management at its best.

First of all, many of the Tigers new young guns and aging superstars have either played together before or have some sort of regional affiliation. Cabrera and Guillen hail from the same town in Venezuela and Maggs is a fellow Bolivarian revolutionary as well. Ok, I don’t know if the Bolivarian revolutionary thing is true but they are all Venezuelan so that is something. At the same time, we have Gary Sheffield and his well-publicized comments regarding ethnicity in baseball. However, is there really anything an over-the-hill slugger wants more than a little respect? The starry-eyed look in Cabrera’s eye will be a greater asset to Sheff and his fortunes than any bonus or honor could ever be.

Beyond the general sense of team destiny that seems to pervade the Tigers’ locker room right now, though,  is something far greater: the measured sensibility and decades of accumulated baseball knowledge that is Jim Leyland. He’s not just a manager, he’s an admiral, steering the good ship Detroit through the stormy seas of the American League Central and onward to its final port of call in the World Series this October. Yeah, I’m getting a little ahead of myself but how can you not be excited about this team? Despite his dour pronouncements and leathery, 3-packs-a-day scowl, you have to think that even Leyland understands that some god has smiled on him. How else can you explain the existence of a team this good that still comes across as a down-to-earth group of guys who can’t believe their good fortune at winding up in the same dugout?

So, yes, it’s a long season and we have 162 games that have to be played. But, it’s nice to finally be able to say I’m a Tiger fan and, instead of seeing pity in peoples’ eyes, see that look replaced with  fear.





    Come on, Al. Let’s stop the whining, shall we? A direct rebuttal? No. Not at all. Simply more hype. Hype, hype, hype. Let me repeat myself: I wish your team the best. They should win it all the way they’re stacked, BUT AGAIN, I will remind you that the same has been said about the Yankees starting lineup for the last 6 years. Okay. It takes a lot more than mega-dollar bats. You get it now? Sure? Good.

    And Leyland. I like Leyland. How can you not like a manager who smokes in the dugout during games? How can you not like a guy who after managing became a scout for the Cardinals? He was also LaRussa’s mentor. I thank him for that: a classic case of the pupil overtaking the teacher. Yeah, Leyland got that one ring with the Fire-Sale Marlins. Good for him. But I don’t think he’s quite the general you say he is. Those Pirates teams of the early 90s sure looked good on paper—alas no ring. And this Tigers team has been good for two years now—alas, no ring. I sure hope (for your sake) that he really drills pitchers’ infield practice this year.

    Bottom line, if Torre can’t get a bunch of superstars to mesh and like each other and play well and WIN it all, then I have a hard time automatically saying Leyland is the ONE who can do it like you have. Get back to the books, study a little harder and when you’re ready to duel with the master, you let me know.

    What you’re doing now, Al, is giving into the hype. The Tigers franchise is all hyped up because of this new team they’re putting out there. That’s fine. But blatantly disregarding history and worshipping someone who has fallen short more often than not (Leyland) is a little irresponsible. The Tigers are not a winning franchise. They are not the Cardinals, who have been a contender every year (yes, they made a short albeit stunted run last season) since 1996. The Tiggers haven’t won 10 World Series titles. You weren’t old enough to remember the last time your team won it all. So, this is new to you. So go ahead and be excited. Just be wary of making bold statements before your team has even played an intersquad exhibition game. And don’t feel alone, all those affluent white people who live outside of Detroit are super excited too. They might actually go to Comerica to watch a baseball game rather than ride the ferris wheel or the rollercoaster.


    Man, if you’re that jealous, you should just say so. I understand why you would feel that way since the Cardinals are quickly on their way to becoming as relevant as their Kansas City sister squad but you don’t have to take out your frustrations on me. And, to be fair, you’ll notice that although I am excited I also point out just how many questions there are that need to be answered and how easily this could all fall apart.

    However, I feel I need to correct one major problem with your comment. Joe Torre is not a great manager. Joe Torre is an adequate manager who was gifted with an amazing array of talent. The fact that he was unable to put this talent together in a meaningful way for the past 6 seasons says as much as you need to know about his managerial abilities. Leyland, on the other hand, has done a lot more with a lot less over his career. The 2006 Tigers are a case in point and last year’s disappointing finish can be directly attributed to the raft of injuries that hit the Tigers during the middle part of the season. This Tigers team is much deeper and has role players that can step up in the event of injury. However, as I said before, the biggest questions remains the bullpen and that, if anything, will be the Achilles Heel of this team.


    Al, you’re whining again.

    I hate to say it, but Torre won 4 WS in 5 years BEFORE the spending spree–but in your book, winning doesn’t make you a great manager. Sure. So I guess Casey Stengel was just some dead-heap-on-the-side-of-the-road manager then? Hang your hat on that one.

    Contrary to what your mom told you growing up, winning IS everything in this game. And the Tigers haven’t done that a whole lot during your lifetime.

    I believe we all agree now that this argument has run its course.

    And please PLEASE know, that the Cardinal Nation will never be overshadowed by the laughingstock called the Royals. Your continual disregard for the glorious tradition that is St. Louis Cardinals baseball is beginning to wear on me, Al. I think I know who the real jealous one is here.


    now now gentlemen. I have you know I am old enough to remember the last glory days of the Tigers. AND THAT WAS ABOUT 40YRS AGO. Winning is how the game is judged, like it or not. The Tigers have not been there year after year. Even the pizza man could not spend them into victory. History shows that the CARDINALS have been consistent with or without the payroll, and I don’t see that changing. Just my opinion

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