SPORTS GALORE: So long, Jim Leyland

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 3:47 pm on Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So long, Jim Leyland.

I say that with sadness. I say that with respect. And I say that with admiration.

I say that with sadness, because to me, Jim Leyland was the best Tigers manager since Sparky Anderson.

Leyland brought stability to a franchise that had seen Buddy Bell, Larry Parrish, Phil Garner, Luis Pujols and Alan Trammell hold the managerial job from 1996 through 2005. Eight times in those 10 years, the Tigers finished with more than 90 losses in a season.

Just once in the past eight years have the Tigers failed to record at least a .500 record.

I realize the talent base is significantly better than before, but Leyland is the same manager that took a 71-91 team (2005), with basically the same lineup, to 95 wins and a spot in the World Series a year later.

The 2013 version of the Tigers had flaws. They were far from a perfect team, yet we expected our manager to be just that, perfect.

Were his decisions always correct? They were not. Many times he would tell you that. But were his decisions any different in 2006 than they were this season? Probably not.

I say that with respect, because that is what Jim Leyland deserves.

Leyland treated everyone he encountered with respect and he deserves the same type of respect.

He received that respect from former and current players, other managers, executives, media and some fans. Why? Because his body of work says he should. Because he treated others the way he wanted to be treated and that is the way it’s supposed to be.

Unfortunately, it’s the naysayers that have stood out the past couple of years and even the past 24 hours.

I have read so many brutal comments regarding Jim Leyland that past day that I wonder what is wrong with people. Really, what has Jim Leyland done to any of you?

I’m guessing he had a little more incentive to win the World Series than any of us. Yet, when it was said he would accept another job with the Tigers, someone posted to a social media site, saying it should be as janitor.

While Jim Leyland is a class act, the same can’t be said for many of the supposed Tigers “fans.”

I say that with admiration, because Jim Leyland wore his emotions on his sleeve.

In the ultra macho world of professional sports, it was not uncommon for Leyland to shed a tear. He truly loved being a part of the Tigers organization. He felt he was blessed to be in the position he has been the past eight years as Tigers manager.

Well I feel blessed to have had him as the manager of my favorite team. To me, there is nothing like baseball and the Detroit Tigers.

I remember the 100 loss seasons. With the 1984 championship season a distant memory, you bet I’ve been enjoying this run the past eight years, with or without a World Series title.

I want to say thank you to Jim Leyland for bringing Tigers baseball back.

A friend of mine, Andrew Engle said yesterday on Facebook, “Late leads will still be given up, saves will still be blown and bad pitching decisions will still be made. It is a game of second guessing and maybe that’s what makes it so great.”

Baseball is a great sport and Jim Leyland was a great manager. I am sad that he has moved on, but I respect his decision and I admire all he has done for the Detroit Tigers.

I can only hope the success continues with our next manager.

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