Sunday, October 15, 2006
Go Get 'em, Tigers!
After the 1994 Major League Baseball strike, which cancelled the post-season and wasn't resolved until the next Spring, I swore off baseball completely. I didn't watch a game or pay attention to MLB for the ensuing 12 years. I guess you could say I hold a grudge...
All that ended this year with the Detroit Tigers and their unlikely successes. After losing a record 119 games in 2004 and another hundred games or so in 2005, the Tigers wowed the country by leading the league in wins for almost all of the regular season, before slipping a bit in the last couple of weeks. With all that success and with a team that was short on superstars, and loaded with young, up-and-coming talent, I returned to the fold.I went to two ballgames at the new stadium, Comerica Park, this year and loved every minute of it!
I have watched several games this season on TV, also. This team is exciting and inspiring! How could you script a post-season better than this one has turned out? Taking on the mighty Bronx Bombers, with a lineup of hitters most experts felt was perhaps the best in MLB history, and whipping them convincingly in three straight, after losing the first game, then sweeping the Left Coast's best Oakland A's, in four makes these Tigers something special!
Right now, the Mets and the Cardinals are fighting it out for the National League title, while the Tigers rest up to meet the winner in the World Series. If St. Louis wins, it would be the rematch of the 1968 World Series contestants. That was the first World Series that was important to me. I was 12 years old and a huge Tiger fan. I used to listen to the Tigers games with my Dad, on the porch in Detroit, on an old transistor radio, as those great players won it all that year. Great memories!
Baseball has weathered the storms of player strikes, "juiced" balls, corked bats, and steroids to once again capture the hearts and minds of the nation as "America's favorite pasttime". Now, this year, with a Tigers team that won in spite of all the odds, Baseball is again magical for me. The 1968 players are retired and many have died. The majestic Tiger Stadium has been replaced with Comerica Park, and will likely be torn down next year. Much like the city in 1968, which was recovering from the riots of the previous year, the 2006 city-with dwindling population and soaring unemployment due to the decline of the auto industry-needs a lift. The roles of Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Norm Cash, Al Kaline and all the others are being filled by Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, "Pudge" Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Joel Zumaya. They seem up to the challenge. In 1968, the overweight Mickey Lolich faced down the best pitcher in Baseball (Bob Gibson)in the seventh game and won. He was perhaps symbolic of the regular guy fighting against the odds. This year a bunch of regular guys will do the same thing. I BELIEVE! How about you?
"I guess you could say I'm the redemption of the fat man. A guy will be watching me on TV and see that I don't look in any better shape than he is. 'Hey Maude,' he'll holler, 'Get a load of this guy and he's a twenty-game winner.' " - Mickey Lolich