There is a lot of elation around Michigan now that the Detroit Tigers have made the playoffs as the American League Central Division champions for the second straight year.
Tigers fans are happy the team won the Central, and even happier when Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown. They’ll be even happier when he is named the MVP of the AL.
But I have noticed something from Tigers “fans” that hasn’t been said in a while.
Two weeks ago most of the “fans” were calling for manager Jim Leyland to be fired. Apparently most of those fans thought they knew (or know) more about baseball than someone who has been managing for almost four decades.
He’s starting Ryan Raburn, who can’t hit the Mendoza line. Leyland needs to go.
He’s put Quentin Berry on the bench, playing him only in a pinch runner or pinch hitter, especially after his hot start. Leyland needs to go.
Joaquin Benoit and/or Jose Valverde are coming in from the bullpen. Leyland needs to go.
The best players aren’t playing in a certain game. Leyland needs to go.
Really? THAT’S what you’re going with?
Leyland detractors don’t want to remember how he managed the team to the AL Championship Series last season. They also don’t want to remember 2006, when the Tigers went from having the worst record in American League history three years prior, to making it to the World Series.
But they will nitpick every decision Leyland makes as though the Tigers should be in the World Series by birthright.
The biggest complaint I saw from Tigers “fans” was that the best players would occasionally take a day off and not play.
Using that logic, then Justin Verlander should have pitched every game. After all, he is the Tigers’ best player at that position. And no one would want Verlander to pitch every day, so why should the other best players be forced to go out there with no rest?
Also, baseball is 162 games long. That’s 80 games more than an NBA player plays, and 162 games more than an NHL player will play this season. (See previous post.)
The reason NBA and NHL players will always play all 82 games is that there isn’t a month’s worth of games back-to-back-to-back like in baseball. At some point in time those baseball players need to rest and recuperate. So I don’t mind Leyland giving them the day off if they need it.
And bringing in Valverde, who has the highest save percentage of any Tigers reliever in history, is a no-brainer. Apparently fans were wanting his release because he wasn’t perfect in save situations like he was last season.
Those detractors don’t remember Mike Henneman, who also is a member of the Tigers’ 100-save club. He was a regular at making games closer than they needed to before getting the win. Yet no one was calling for his release.
So those of you who think Leyland should have been fired need to realize something. He’s forgotten more baseball than any group you can get together combined.
As far as I’m concerned, Leyland can stay as long as Sparky Anderson, another great baseball mind, did here in Detroit. We all know how that worked out.
So sit back and try to cheer on the Tigers as they go through the playoffs – again.