I was wondering why Victor Martinez took so long to circle the bases after his home run against the Texas Rangers Tuesday night. Slow? We’re talking slower than a senior citizen crossing the street with the help of a Boy Scout. We’re talking about looking as if he was dog paddling against the current.
If he was hurt, so be it. Tigers fans had to be down on their knees thanking the Lord for the designated hitter. Martinez did not have to run out and play the field immediately. He could retreat to the clubhouse for an entire rehab session before his turn to hit rolled around again. The fact that he had so much time to pull himself together added to the playoff game’s suspense. We didn’t really know if he was going to take another at-bat or not. And manager Jim Leyland had innings to ponder his next move.
Given how Tiger position players have had the life span of a fruit fly lately, Leyland likely spent a couple of innings worrying if he would have to beckon Al Kaline from the luxury suites to the batter’ box. But no, regardless of how Martinez felt, he stayed in the game.
For two seasons now the Texas Rangers have been one of the best teams in the American League. They reached the World Series last year and they were barely threatened in the division race during the regular season this year. Dallas-area baseball success has been limited so this long-awaited resurgence has created a frenzy in the area.
But it’s not as if Detroit has been spoiled by frequent recent diamond achievement either. Ty Cobb retired a long time ago. And the Tigers’ last World Series triumph was in 1984. In 2003, Detroit set the American League record with 119 losses. The Tigers did claw their way into the 2006 World Series, but lost to the Cardinals and this is their next best chance to get back.
Giving up a run to the Rangers in the first inning of every game as the Tigers have done is not the way to extend October play, though Detroit did ovecome that Tuesday. Besides the long balls swatted by Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Jhonny Peralta the other reason why the Tigers are not trailing 3-0 in games was the marvelous clutch performance by pitcher Doug Fister who went 7 1/3 innings and gave up just two runs. Although the guy’s name makes it sound as if he should be a boxer, he turned in a very passable imitation of Justin Verlander.
Texas may still be favored, but the Tigers are still alive. Texas may want this championship, but Detroit needs it. Detroit and Michigan have taken economic beatings for years now. Some of the city’s neighborhoods are virtually abandoned. Detroit winning the American League Championship Series and the World Series would uplift the spirits of people who could really use some good news.
Not so many years ago, the Tigers were the worst team in baseball. Not so many days, or weeks ago, (pick one), some major media outlet was writing or saying that Detroit was the most downtrodden city in the United States, maybe the worst place to live. There’s still no telling how this will play out, but a Detroit victory would be a feel-good story for a community, as well as a team.
Texas loses and fans will just drown their sorrows with a shopping spree at Neiman Marcus or by buying another ranch. Detroit loses and the fans will be depressed as well as Depressed.
Tags: Al Kaline American League Championship Series Dallas Detroit Detroit Tigers Doug Fister Jhonny Peralta Jim Leyland Justin Verlander Miguel Cabrera Neiman Marcus Texas Rangers Ty Cobb Victor Martinez