October 15, 2006


Tigers take fairy tale to Series (Larry Stone, 10/15/06, Seattle Times)

The swing was pure power, the connection completely unambiguous.

There was no need for one of those classic Carlton Fisk gyrations, to will the ball fair enough, or deep enough. This one was a fait accompli from the moment Huston Street threw it and Magglio Ordonez hit it, hit every inch of it, sending the Detroit Tigers — the Tigers! — to the World Series, with a quick detour to delirium.

Ordonez knew. He stood and watched, walked the first few steps down the line, raised his right arm and began the 360-foot jog into history that only a rarefied few get to experience.

"It was like I was running on air," Ordonez would say afterward, after he had been pummeled by his jubilant teammates waiting at the plate and serenaded by the stupefied fans at Comerica Park.

You gotta believe: Tigers turnaround is complete with World Series berth (John Donovan, October 15, 2006 , Sports Illustrated)
Saturday night's comeback was almost as impressive as the Tigers' turnaround this postseason. Detroit, remember, lost 31 of its final 50 games to hand the AL Central title to the Twins. Still, neither of those bouncebacks comes close to what the Tigers have pulled off since that 119-loss debacle of 2003.

Since then, under general manager Dave Dombrowski, the team has been torn down and rebuilt, starting with the free-agent signing of catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez before the '04 season, while moving through important trades (shortstop Carlos Guillen in 2004, Polanco in 2005) and more free-agent signings (Ordonez before the 2005 season, and starter Kenny Rogers and closer Todd Jones before this season).

All the while, Dombrowski has picked up role players like Monroe and drafted important players like leadoff man Curtis Granderson and pitchers Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya. And, of course, before this season, Dombrowski brought in manager Jim Leyland, who wept as he embraced Ordonez after the game.

Maybe no one better personifies the re-birth of this franchise, though, than Saturday's starter, Jeremy Bonderman. Acquired in a trade from the A's in 2002, he lost 19 games with the Tigers as a 20-year-old during the 119-loss nightmare of 2003. This season, though, he went 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA, becoming a critical part of the starting rotation. He didn't get the win Saturday, but he pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up just the three runs.

Bonderman was one of the players who found Horton -- who hit 36 homers for the 1968 World Series champion Tigers -- and gave him a long hug in the on-field celebration.

"Willie's been great. He's been there all year for us, telling how it is to be a champion," Bonderman said. "He is a champion. And we wanted to be a champion."

Now they are. After more than two decades, these Tigers have brought an AL title back to Motown and made the city believe in baseball again.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2006 8:44 AM

I was too young to remember the '98 Tigers when I moved to Detroit in 1992. It really cracked me up that one of the star players had the same name as the criminal released by Dukakis.

Posted by: JAB at October 15, 2006 10:03 AM

I was too young to remember the '98 Tigers when I moved to Detroit in 1992. It really cracked me up that one of the star players had the same name as the criminal released by Dukakis.

Posted by: JAB at October 15, 2006 10:04 AM

I have to quibble with one of Leyland's tendencies. Bonderman is on cruise control, pitching as well as he has all game, gives up a hit with two outs in the seventh, and gets yanked in favor of Walker and then Grilli. What the hell? In the almighty pitch count, he was only at 90. Happened the night before with Rogers too. If the Tigers have an Achilles heel, it's their middle relief.
I probably first started cutting college classes to watch the 1968 World Series. Still can't believe they beat the awesome Bob Gibson in game 7.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at October 15, 2006 10:56 AM

Went downtown in '68 & '84 when the Tigers won the WS and hope to be able to do it again later this month!

The A's series, especially last night's game was fantastic and exciting!

Posted by: Dave W at October 15, 2006 4:30 PM

This is just the beginning. This team will win five world championships over the next ten years.

Posted by: Palmcroft at October 15, 2006 5:17 PM