Well, those of you who have been following the first couple games of the World Series have no doubt noticed that my Tigers aren't playing in it. Alas. They could only manage to win two games in the time it took the Red Sox to win the requisite four, and so our friends from Boston have duly moved on to the championship round, and congratulations to them on that account. They are a good team, and most definitely worthy contestants for Baseball's Ultimate Prize; we wish them well.
I hope it doesn't come off sounding like sour grapes, but I will admit to a degree of frustration that you all didn't get to see my Tigers at their best (starting pitching aside). Our best hitter (and, if I may be so bold, the Best Hitter in Baseball Today) (heck, one of the best ever), Miguel Cabrera, was a shell of himself, owing to an injury that hobbled him from the beginning of September on. Now, a shell of Miguel Cabrera is still pretty decent, as hitters go, but quite a hit to the Tigers' offense, nonetheless. And our bullpen was a trainwreck. Losing one game of a best-4-of-7 series to a late-inning grand slam is bad, but stuff happens, right? Doing it twice in six games is awful. But then, really, it's nothing new. Our bullpen struggled all year, and our bats were prone to maddening stretches of quietude, especially given some of the hitters we've got on our team. Given the overall level of talent on our roster, we should have won our division by WAY more than the single game that separated us from the Cleveland Indians at season's end (and in saying that, I do not denigrate the Indians in the slightest; they played well and hard all season, and I take my hat off to 'em). So, the Boston series was, in many ways, a microcosm of our whole season - excellence punctuated by glaring flaws. And ain't that just the way of things?
Anyway, congratulations to Red Sox Nation, and good luck in the World Series!
(If my friend Suldog is reading this, the ingredients for the bean soup are now in place, and the slow-cooking should be commencing soon. Then it remains only to get the payment of my debt into your hands. Soon, my friend, soon.)
And then Monday (at the risk of totally driving away the non-baseball portion of whatever meager number of readers I still have left), our manager, Jim Leyland, announced that he was retiring, and wouldn't be managing the team any more. He's 68 years old, so I suppose it shouldn't have come as a complete surprise, but it did. Man, that is a blow. I'm hopeful that our team is strong enough to attract a capable replacement, but Jim Leyland has been one of the best managers the Tigers have ever had. You can see my previous post about three post-seasons in a row, and four in eight years, and all that. It's hard to express, as a Tiger fan, how unique this period of time has been. The Tigers have not been prone to long, sustained eras of excellence. Typically, they've had short peaks of 'Wonderful', amid long stretches of Competitively Above Average (and, in the decade or so before Leyland arrived, more years of Putrid Awfulness than we'd have preferred). So, we're not used to this Every-Year-In-the-Playoffs thing. And Jim Leyland presided over all of it. Even Sparky Anderson, our Hall-of-Fame manager from the 80s-90s, only took the Tigers to two League Championship Series, and one World Series, in 17 seasons. Leyland doubled both those accomplishments, in half as many years. The only thing he didn't do with the Tigers is win a World Series (though he did win one with the '97 Marlins).
Anyway, good luck, Mr. Leyland. We will sure miss you.
I would have intended to post this a few days ago, in the more immediate aftermath of our series with Boston, but the end of last week, work, um. . . exploded. Stuff was breaking that wasn't supposed to be breaking, and the first order of business was to figure out WHY it was breaking, because, as designed, it wasn't supposed to be seeing any load conditions that would even remotely cause it to break. And then we had to re-work the design, so that it doesn't break any more. And math, math, science, science, etc, etc. engineer-speak. The immediate upshot of which is that I worked last Saturday, and, even given that I didn't go in to the office until 8PM Sunday, I worked another 6 hours that day, too. And this week has featured 10-12 hour days pretty much every day. I'm starting to lose track of my normal circadian cycle. I like my job, and there's something exhilarating about really kicking ass to solve a problem, but a week is about all of that that I can stand. I'm fortunate that Jen is willing to take up the slack while I help slay the dragon, and that our marriage is strong enough to bear the strain, but any day now, I'm ready to go back home and kiss my wife and hug my kids and forget all about cars and machines and computers and such. KnowwhatImean?
And then, last night, as I was wrapping up the latest 12-hour day, my phone rings with a text message from Jen, informing me that 7M broke his wrist playing football, and she was on her way to the hospital with him. So, there's that. He'll recover, and so will we all. But right about now, I could use a cold beer and a ballgame on TV, and absolutely nothing to think about for the next three days. . .