By Ken DeLaat
A couple of months ago in a previous column I mentioned that the Detroiters would likely not fare well this season or perhaps for several more. Well, LSC Lil and I went down to see the Tigers recently for an annual Tiger/Blue Jay game (daughter Lesly is a Toronto fan, go figure) and I have got to tell you that even though one can watch a team on television or follow on the radio there is something about seeing a game in person that gives you a sense for the quality of a team.
And the Tigs are bad.
Really really bad.
Don’t get me wrong it takes little knowledge of the game to recognize that if a player can reach even the lower levels of the minor leagues they are likely to be outstanding. I mean, how many kids did you know growing up who played pro ball? Even the players you thought of as the best in your area were probably not skilled enough to cut it at those levels.
Oh and either were the guys who tell you they could have played pro but either a) hurt their arm or b) chose a career.They seem to be as legion as those who say they attended Woodstock.
So agreed, the players on the CoPa field are some of the best in the world.
Trouble is, they’re playing against others who are also the best in the world who are a whole lot, and I mean a WHOLE lot better than they are.
They have a few players on this roster who might survive the next few dreadful years before the promised dominant pitching arrives and they can hopefully begin loading up on some badly needed bats. But mostly this team is a bit like the Indians in Major League with a cast of career minor leaguers, cast offs from other teams and young players forced into full-time duty before they are as prepared as they might be.
Except the Indians in that movie had some charm and charisma because after all it was a movie right?
This team lacks any appeal.
The Tigers were above the league average attendance for a dozen straight years since the miracle team guided by Jimmy Leyland landed in the ‘06 Series, a streak that ended last year the first of the ‘rebuilding’ (read dismantling) years. This season there is an eerie cavernous sound in the Park with the empty seats reminiscent of sitting in the Old Barn on Michigan and Trumbull in the mid 90’s when you could practically get a chair in the dugout if you wanted to and collecting foul balls was no great feat.
I get it. They felt they couldn’t compete so they decided to save money and hunker in for the long haul. A good business decision perhaps but not one shared by other teams with perhaps more liquid assets who might not have let a pitching staff of Price, Porcello, and oh yeah, Scherzer and Verlander go. Or see their gifted GM leave for Boston where he won a title with a few ex Tigers on the team. Or not give prolific batsman JD Martinez what he wanted to have him hit the 141 dingers since his departure while wearing the Olde English D.
Instead we have a long term commitment to arguable one of the best power/average guys ever in baseball who has devolved by a combination of age, injuries and a lineup that can’t support or protect his bat into a singles hitter who seldom plays the field and has another 5 years left on a bloated contract.
And a $110 million dollar arm who has produced 25 wins in almost 4 years (figures out to about $4 1/2 mil a win thus far) has a 1-7 record, an ERA over 7, who can’t stay off the injury list and will toil on the slab for another year of his contract despite turning the mound into a virtual launching pad when he is healthy enough to start.
Again, I get it. Mistakes can be made, players get hurt, age takes its toll and all that.
But if your goal is to win games and thus put those beloved butts in the seats you can’t make so many bad decisions for so long and then ask people to be patient.
Oh and the other night Castellanos who we cut loose for a pair pitchers from the lower minor leaguers (one with a 1-9 record and an ERA over 7 in class A for pity’s sake) singled doubled and homered as the first place Cubs beat the A’s a low budget team who are, by the way, fighting for a wild card.
But hey, now it’s August and we can focus on the lofty expectations some are holding for our beloved Lions. In fact they just finished their first preseason game and,... and…
And they got the 3 with 2 minutes left?
Sheesh. It’s an epidemic.
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