October 29, 2012
Tigers' huge flaws exposed in World Series
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers finally showed up.
It’s just too bad they showed up three games late.
The San Francisco Giants won their second World Series in three years Sunday, defeating the Tigers 4-3 in 10 innings to complete a stunning sweep of a team that was favoured going into the Fall Classic.
The Giants were by far the better team from a baseball standpoint and when it came to heart and soul.
While the Tigers showed a little pushback Sunday, this series will be remembered as one of the most benign, milquetoast World Series ever.
The Tigers showed what this series could have been like if they’d come better prepare.
But that wasn’t the case. There would be no miracle on Woodward Avenue. The baseball gods giveth and taketh away and they took away the Tigers’ ability to hit and gave the Giants the magic fairy dust that allowed them to play their best baseball of the year.
It seems strange to be writing an obituary of this nature for a team that has made the World Series.
But the Tigers need more than just to tweak their lineup. They need to fill big holes.
When the Tigers go home with their tails firmly between their legs, no one should use the word choke.
This is not a choke job. This is the Tigers playing to the Tigers’ ability. The Tigers overachieved in getting so far.
“They did better than we did,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “I’m a little big flabbergasted. I didn’t think we would sweep the Yankees and I didn’t think we would get swept.”
The Tigers barely survived the Oakland Athletics in their American League Division Series. Outstanding pitching got them past a Yankees team past its prime in the AL Championship Series.
The Tigers made it to the post-season because they were in a division that was one of the worst in baseball. The Tigers finished first in the AL Central with 88 wins. If not for a massive collapse by the division rival Chicago White Sox, it wouldn’t have been enough for playoff berth.
The 88 wins were the seventh-best in the American League. The New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Athletics, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels had more wins.
Defensively, the Tigers were among the leaders in allowing unearned runs.
After the Tigers lost Game 3 of the World Series, Leyland appeared at a loss when asked what the Tigers could do to change things around.
“Maybe I need to be a little more creative,” he said.
No one is quite sure how Leyland could have been any more creative. It’s like telling a child to draw something colourful and different and then giving them only one crayon. Leyland doesn’t own the 28-colour set.
He has some power and will have more next year when Victor Martinez returns, although Martinez is 33 and didn’t play at all this year because of injury.
The Tigers also need to find a No. 2 hitter to help leadoff man Austin Jackson.
The bottom of the order is a mess.
More than anything, the Tigers need a player who is willing to do anything to win. A get-down, eat-dirt, adrenaline junkie that can kick start a team when it’s flat or simply kick his teammates in the rear end when they lose interest.
Their pitching will be solid. But they need to find a closer.
And what of Leyland? He is probably safe but he’s taking a lot of heat for his constant juggling of his lineup and in-game decision making.
“I am pretty much able to turn the page,” Leyland said. “I’ll go home and hear from you guys about how we’re aren’t very good but there isn’t anything we can do about now so I just turn the page.”
As a team the Tigers didn’t get it done. They didn’t even come close.
For Tiger fans, it’s disappointing that they lost another World Series.
But if you look closely enough, you shouldn’t have expected anything else.