I had been planning to reply to your last post in detail, Mr. Lung, but then I read an article this morning (which you actually sent me) and it seems to be a direct rebuttal of several of your points. I’ll keep myself from restating everything in the article but I do want to hit on a few issues it addresses.
The implicit dilemma for the Tigers at the beginning of this season is something you introduce but don’t expand on in your countdown of the top payrolls. It’s an obvious problem but many free-spending major league teams neglect to take into account the team aspect of throwing together a bunch of superstars or they don’t have a manager who commands enough respect to pull all the disparate parts together. However, I think that Dombrowski was smart enough to consider these issues while putting together his team and, as a result, these Tigers are well positioned to overcome this potential downfall. This isn’t the spend whatever to get whatever aesthetic of the evil empire. This is baseball General Management at its best.
First of all, many of the Tigers new young guns and aging superstars have either played together before or have some sort of regional affiliation. Cabrera and Guillen hail from the same town in Venezuela and Maggs is a fellow Bolivarian revolutionary as well. Ok, I don’t know if the Bolivarian revolutionary thing is true but they are all Venezuelan so that is something. At the same time, we have Gary Sheffield and his well-publicized comments regarding ethnicity in baseball. However, is there really anything an over-the-hill slugger wants more than a little respect? The starry-eyed look in Cabrera’s eye will be a greater asset to Sheff and his fortunes than any bonus or honor could ever be.
Beyond the general sense of team destiny that seems to pervade the Tigers’ locker room right now, though, is something far greater: the measured sensibility and decades of accumulated baseball knowledge that is Jim Leyland. He’s not just a manager, he’s an admiral, steering the good ship Detroit through the stormy seas of the American League Central and onward to its final port of call in the World Series this October. Yeah, I’m getting a little ahead of myself but how can you not be excited about this team? Despite his dour pronouncements and leathery, 3-packs-a-day scowl, you have to think that even Leyland understands that some god has smiled on him. How else can you explain the existence of a team this good that still comes across as a down-to-earth group of guys who can’t believe their good fortune at winding up in the same dugout?
So, yes, it’s a long season and we have 162 games that have to be played. But, it’s nice to finally be able to say I’m a Tiger fan and, instead of seeing pity in peoples’ eyes, see that look replaced with fear.