October 27, 2006


Tigers Left Fielding Questions, Or Maybe It's Just Karma (Thomas Boswell, October 27, 2006, Washington Post)

When the highlights of this Series are shown, Granderson's slip and Eckstein's clutch hit will be shown. "The best game I've probably ever had, considering the [Series] stage," said Eckstein, who was the sparkplug of the '02 champion Angels.

However, all this game detail, and the thunderous excitement here that surrounded it, obscured a deeper problem that has undone the Tigers throughout this Series. Ignore the Granderson-relives-Flood play -- not that anybody with a sense of history would want to do such a thing. But think instead of the Rodney error on a play far easier than Granderson's. But just as devastating.

The Tigers had six days off between winning the American League pennant and opening the World Series. Nobody knew quite what the team should do with all that spare time. Now they do. They should have sent their pitchers to Lakeland, Fla., to their spring training camp to practice the simplest fielding plays in baseball.

They needed to remember how to field a soft ground ball without bobbling it. Recall how to throw a routine pickoff to first base with a slow runner on base without heaving it into the right field corner. Learn not to throw to third base when you have an easy double play by throwing to second; and if you do throw to third, don't miss the third baseman by 10 feet so two runs can score. And, finally, in a Game 4 which will probably be seen as the pivot point in the Series, don't through a simple sacrifice bunt into the right field corner.

No team in history has ever had four errors in a Series by its pitchers. The Tigers needed only four games to pull off the malfeasance with Todd Jones, Justin Verlander, Zumaya and Rodney doing the dishonors.

When the Tigers start Kenny Rogers is it for his defense?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 27, 2006 8:30 AM

"When the Tigers start Kenny Rogers is it for his defense?"

The way this team is playing, it will be because of Kenny Rogers song writing.

Posted by: AllenS at October 27, 2006 8:59 AM

All I can say about last night is "Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggh" and shake my head in disbelief!

Posted by: Dave W at October 27, 2006 9:55 AM

You can make the argument that, with the Cards looking likely to win the Series, the worse team has one every single playoff series this season.

Certainly with the state of the Mets' pitching and the way the Cards limped into the postseason, you'd have had to think LA and SD were the favorites in those series. Likewise given Yanks dominance over Detroit in their 7 regular season games, and the way Detroit limped in, they were the better team, and Minny was so strong in the last 3/4 of the season, even without Liriano.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 27, 2006 10:10 AM

OTOH, Greg Madduz has won like 10 Gold Gloves but has a losing post-season record.

Posted by: ratbert at October 27, 2006 10:13 AM

No, the Tigers are certainly the best team in baseball this year, though they look to have been hurt by the long layoff. it would hardly be surprising if they come back and win.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2006 10:16 AM

They limped into the playoffs and looked dreadful against the Yanks in the regular season. I'd have said -- before Kenny Rogers turned into Randy Johnson circa 2001 -- that they were easily the worst of the 4 AL teams.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at October 27, 2006 10:30 AM

Tony LaRussa teams usually choke so OJ may be right and the Tigers can pull it out. The Tigers may be rusty as well but the Series is just showing how hitting weak the Tigers every day lineup is. Other than Ordornez and HOF bound Pudge, it is mediocre at best.

Bold prediction: Tigers do not even make playoffs next year. Verlander spends 3/4 year on disabled list with arm problems. 8.65 ERA when he does pitch.

By the way, did anyone see that Gary Sheffield is mad that he will make 13 MILLION next year because the Yanks are picking up his option?

Posted by: Bob at October 27, 2006 10:34 AM

They took a break once they'd wrapped it up and Polanco was out for awhile. Their pitching is so much better than anyone else's that they are the best team in '06. If you match the rotations you'd never take the Yankee stater.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2006 10:38 AM

If Verlander does miss time because of overuse they can plug in Ledezma, Sanchez and Miller. they'll be good for awhile, but do need some guys who get on base once in awhile. Why they didn't pick up Abreu, as cheap as he went to the Yanks, is a mystery.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2006 10:41 AM

I never expected the series to go this way. Even as a life long Cardinals fan I thought the Tigers would take it in five, and I was being optimistic in thinking the Cards would win a game at home to avoid being skunked! The keys here have been pitching and discipline.

Both sides have had excellent pitching but the Tigers' bullpen hasn't been able to close the deal in the last two games. Contrast that with the Cardinals largely untested bullpen that has performed impressively in the post season. Also, Tony has clearly done a better job than Leyland of keeping the Cards focused on each game and not worrying about the series overall. Because of that the Cards are able to take advantage of every mistake and opportunity they're given, while the Tigers continue to be frustrated and obsess over missed opportunities and squander the chances they're given.

Posted by: Robert Modean at October 27, 2006 12:17 PM

I think this has been a terrible defensive and hitting series with some above average and 1 or two great games pitched.

The Cardinals seemed determined to swing at the first two pitches and go 0-2 every at bat.

The Tigers didn't manufacture runs all season and we all should have known that was goign to kill them in the Series. Especially at BuschIII. Look at their numbers, they won with 1 or two solo HR's most of the time, that just ain't gonna cut it in the Series.

Belliard and Encarnacion have got to go. They are ruining Albert and everyone else with their infectious and utter lack of plate discipline.

Oh yeah, we haven't choked yet and will likely win for one reason: Eck.

Tony is trying his hardest to lose this. See leaving Yadi in to hit with the bases loaded in the 9th etc. but Eck just keeps everyone from rolling over.

Posted by: Pepys at October 27, 2006 12:28 PM

Pepys: Of course Tony is trying to lose. How else do you explain starting Miles TWICE in the Series?

Posted by: b at October 27, 2006 1:32 PM

Izzy and TLR (the genius!) have taken decades off my life.

Posted by: Pepys at October 27, 2006 1:55 PM

But without Izzy we wouldn't have been subjected to all the "Worst World Series Team Ever" stories and the Cards wouldn't have been misunderestimated all the way to one win from the championship...

Posted by: b at October 27, 2006 3:11 PM

A healthy Izzy would count against the Cards.

Posted by: oj at October 27, 2006 4:03 PM

My point was that because Izzy blew so many saves this season, the Cards had a much, much worse record than would otherwise be reflected by their (healthy) talent level...

Posted by: b at October 27, 2006 5:10 PM

Not just Izzy. Mulder had a bad shoulder and was pretty much an automatic loss the last few times he pitched. And of course let's not forget Jason Marquis who failed under Cox/Mazzone and LaRussa/Duncan. Getting him off the roster improved the team dramatically.

Posted by: andrew at October 27, 2006 5:57 PM