Emmy Award winning Conan writer Brian Kiley stops by The Sully Baseball Show to talk a little Red Sox and meeting Ted Williams.
The Tigers dramatic win on Saturday and blow out win last night put them front and center on my baseball mind today. This team could very well be warming up to a long October run and be a real potential World Series winner. Now is as good a time as any to do the Detroit entry for the Why Each Team’s Potential World Championship Would Be Good For The Game series.
Recently the AL Central winner has been an after thought at best in the post season. The last three Central teams have won a combined one post season GAME in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
But a combination of big bats, a great manager and a world beating ace could put an AL Central entry in the ALCS for the first time since the 2007 Indians, in the World Series for the first time since the 2006 Tigers or join the 2005 White Sox as the second ever champ from the Division.
Why would a fan outside of Michigan want to see a title in Motown? I have a few reasons.
1. A Tiger title would put Jim Leyland among the elite managers in history
I already think Jim Leyland belongs in the Hall of Fame, and not just because he looks like a baseball manager sent from Central Casting. He has pennants in both leagues, a World Series title and turned around three franchises. But a World Series title in both leagues would put him with Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa as the only ones to pull off that feat.
Plus a title in Detroit would be probably be less bittersweet than his ring: The soon to be dismantled 1997 Florida Marlins.
Dombrowski doesn’t look that old until you have him stand next to all the young GMs around baseball today. I suppose he would have to be considered part of the “Old School.” While Brad Pitt isn’t about to play him in a movie any time soon, he was the 31 year old GM who helped assemble a very talented Expos team. Then slapped together a World Champion in Florida and made sure that when it was dismantled, solid players came back in return. Many of the 2003 World Champion Marlins were acquired by Dombrowski. Then he turned around a disastrous Tigers team. As more and more GMs get Hall of Fame consideration, a Detroit title could put Dombrowski in Cooperstown.
Lamont has put in 47 years of his life to professional baseball. He’s been a player, minor league coach and manager and been a loyal lieutenant to Jim Leyland for many seasons.
He also won manager of the year in 1993 leading the White Sox to the ALCS and later managed the Pirates. Oddly he hasn’t been hired as a manager since.
He was managing in the Royals organization in 1985, so I think he may have a ring from that year. Let’s drop the “I think” and get him a big league ring. He’s put in the time.
Cabrera has had far too many negative headlines over the last few seasons, mainly about his fight with alcohol. Hopefully he is battling those demons. What he brings to the field is nothing short of extraordinary. Year in and year out he puts up MVP caliber numbers. The players that Baseball Reference compares him to at this age are people like Frank Robinson, Ken Griffey Jr, Orlando Cepeda, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron. In other words he is a Hall of Famer if he can keep his life together.
Another shot of October glory could help cement a potential wonderful legacy. He won a title in 2003 with Florida. (Doesn’t it seem like EVERYONE in Detroit also won in Florida? For the record, Tigers pitcher Brad Penny also has a Florida ring!)
Guillen hasn’t been much of a factor this season other than getting into a spat with Angels pitcher Jered Weaver. But he’s had a nice 13+ season career with memorable highlights (a Division Series ending walk off bunt for the Mariners in 200… a 1.625 OPS in Detroit’s 2006 Division Series victory over the Yankees.) And he has shown toughness (coming back from Tuberculosis to play in the 2001 ALCS) and will someday be a big league coach or manager.
He has been underrated his whole career, despite a few All Star appearances and a top 10 MVP finish in 2006. Players like Guillen deserve a title.
I don’t care about or listen to rap. But even I would be curious to hear Marshall Bruce Mathers III do his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
Oh yeah, there are lots of Motown artists who will no doubt make their dutiful appearance. But nobody will get Slim Shady’s press.
When Little Caesar’s founder Mike Illitch took over the Detroit Red Wings in 1982, the team hadn’t played in a Stanley Cup Final since 1966 and hadn’t won since 1955. Under his ownership they won the Cup in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 and made 2 other Finals appearances.
When he took over the Tigers from Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan in 1992, the team was in flux. This year a fifth title in Detroit from a Mike Illitch team could be won.
If they win, maybe he should sell the Tigers and buy the Lions.
He has already been a Rookie of the Year, an All Star and a Cy Young contender. He will no doubt win the Cy Young this season and having passed the 100 win mark at a young age, he is a legit candidate to someday pass 300.
All his legacy needs is a World Series title and good health and we might be seeing a Hall of Famer emerging. In the post Steroid era, a new generation of ace pitchers are dominating and doing so into October. Last year Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee left their indelible marks. Now it is Verlander’s turn.
When you think of the great winning baseball franchises, chances are most wouldn’t list the Tigers. But go back and look at the great teams and titles they have won and you’d be surprised what a great history they had.
A quick glance at my Homegrown vs. Acquired entry for the Tigers shows Hall of Famers like Hank Greenberg, Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Heinie Manush, Harry Heilmann, Jim Bunning, Hal Newhouser, Mickey Cochrane, George Kell, Sam Crawford and Goose Goslin, whose walk off single clinched the Tigers first ever World Series title. They would the World Series in the 1930s, 1940s, 1960s and 1980s.
They would feature one of the game’s greatest characters with Mark Fidrych. They would have a mind bogglingly deep team in 1984 who got off to a dizzyingly amazing start led by the future Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson. Then they won it all, going 7-1 in the post season.
The Tigers won a heart stopping Division race in 1972 and again in 1987. And won the 2006 pennant on a walk off homer by Magglio Ordonez.
Tiger fans of all generations have had remarkable highlights. But it has been 27 years since they have won it all. It is time for a new generation of Tiger fans to have THEIR title.
It’s no secret that Detroit has had a rough few decades. The city has become worse than a punch line. It has become a symbol of pity for much of the country, which no doubt is the biggest insult of all.
It will take a lot to have Detroit reach its glory days as a city. But everyone I know from Detroit has a real pride in their city and hope and trust that better days are coming. A World Series title could bring the city closer together and show the country that there is still something positive in the Motor City. Sure there have been recent titles by the Pistons and the Red Wings. But the desire for a Tiger title is palpable, and hard to root against.
It’s a real possibility this year in Detroit. Verlander is having one of those “I dare you to try and beat me” seasons and the lineup is strong enough to score runs in bunches. They could win it all and have everyone in Michigan say “Bless you boys.”
And that’s not a bad thing.
If you liked this then go ahead and read the entries for the other teams.