Blogs > From The Bleacher Seats

A roundup of news on sporting events, people and places in Southeast Michigan by columnist Jim Evans.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Congratulations, Jim Leyland

I say congratulations to Jim Leyland.
I see he signed another one-year contract with the Tigers, and he deserves it.
I mean, his team got into the World Series again. I know we were all madder than Lewis Carroll’s Hatter in Alice in Wonderland when the Tigers got swept by the Giants.
Was that really the manager’s fault? While I know my vision is not the greatest, I did not see the 67-year-old Leyland step into the batter’s box once during the Series. That was Miguel Cabrera watching the final strike go by in the fourth game, right? And that was Prince Fielder flailing away at another sweeping curve from yet another lefty on the San Francisco pitching staff, right?

So as aggravating as it was to watch the Tigers belly flop against the Giants, you have to tip your cap to Leyland, his coaches and the players for getting as far as they did. Cabrera had a historic season, winning the Triple Crown, the first time it’s been done since Yaz in ’67. Fielder also had an outstanding season, as did Austin Jackson.
The starting pitching was nearly flawless in plenty of games, which was almost a necessity with a team constructed largely of adequate defensive players at best. Can you imagine trying to pitch for the Tigers? Other than Jackson in center, who else could be classified as outstanding in the field? Thankfully, most of the Tigers could catch balls hit directly at them. Unfortunately, most had the range of three-legged cattle.
The team was perpetually plagued by some of the worst fielding this side of Walter Matthau and his Bad News Bears. Who hammered this team together anyway? The guy with the carpenter’s belt was named Dombrowski, not Leyland.
I know Leyland gets roundly criticized by some. That’s the curse of social media and sports talk radio. Every Tom, Dick and Harry from Harrison Township suddenly has a forum. Suddenly three guys sitting in their boxer shorts and wife-beater T-shirts constitute a groundswell of public opinion. Forget the fact that their breadth of experience in baseball ends with swatting the ball off a tee, coaching a bunch of 10-year-olds, or getting cut from their junior varsity team in high school.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the passion of fans. I don’t agree with everything Leyland does either. When I saw Don Kelly step to the plate, I nearly choked our Yorkshire Terrier breathless. And, thanks to Jose Valverde, I nearly started to drink heavily again and I’m not talking soy milk or Nesquik.
I have been around a long time. I can still hear the “Sparky Sucks!” chants. Last time I looked, the late George Anderson was residing in the Hall of Fame. Jim Leyland could very well wind up in Cooperstown someday, too.
Even if he sucks. Sorry about that, Phil in Ferndale.


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