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The Unthinkable Happened - Tigers Win 4th ALCS Game, Go to 2006 World Series. - Sauce1977 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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The Unthinkable Happened - Tigers Win 4th ALCS Game, Go to 2006 World Series. [Oct. 14th, 2006|08:00 pm]
[Tags|, , , , ]
[Current Location |Tigertown, From the Ashes]
[In the Moment |Shock and Awe]
[Special Music |Moments Without Appropriate Theme Music.]

Gramps, we were wrong.

LOL, it's rare to feel this great about it.

This had to be the most nervous game I've watched for baseball in over 20 years.

Why was it a nervous game?

Every time the A's handed them the series, Detroit kept handing it back! I'm sorry, but Dan Haren pitched a shitty game. The announcers called a shittier game, in turn, for giving praise of his pitches. I couldn't disagree more with Buck and company. Haren kept tossing those pitches in the dirt. He tossed them early and often. The Tigers kept swinging at them! It felt like Haren had little control out there, and the difference was that Detroit, unlike the previous seven games, lost plate patience. Leyland even said that during the live interview . . . Detroit's ABs were poor in majority. Haren probably had 30-40 percent of his strikes off bad choices by the Tigers batters. Haren easily threw a majority of pitches for balls, if Detroit had showed the same patience they did in the first three games. Haren could barely find the plate when he was trying to get a strike! The Tigers batters kept getting themselves in early holes in their counts, and they wouldn't lay off those bad pitches. I stopped counting the number of times Kendall, the A's catcher, had to make like a goalie. Haren's pitches simply had too much action on them, and they were effective only because Detroit lacked plate patience.

To Jeremy Bonderman's credit, he pitched a decent game. His pitching got tougher to hit as the game progressed, which was a nice surprise. A's touched him for 2 runs early, but it didn't bother Jeremy. That shows maturity, and he's showing a lot of it for being a younger guy in a most uncommon situation. Bonderman appears to be one of those guys that thrives on the pressure. That's a very good sign, along with continued health and strength of his arm, for a solid career.

Jamie Walker got really lucky out there in the top of the 7th for one instance of good fortune. His slider wasn't hitting the zone, but he got the A's batter, Kotsay, swinging on a high inside off-speed pitch when Kotsay was looking outside either for a fastball or the slider. That K ended the inning for Detroit with a strong dose of confidence, and they needed that confidence later when Grilli almost lost it for Detroit with ball after ball thrown to load the bases in the 8th.

I think I frothed at the mouth when Grilli walked three straight batters late with a tied game. Okay, I swore and screamed at the television set all game, but Grilli . . . almost unforgiveable. There's no way to properly express how sloppy this game was. The A's were naturally desperate, but Detroit was matching it with impatience. My family kept telling me to calm down, but that's usually because they were getting emotional as well . . . and I was amping them up past their comfort zone. They've never really seen me give a shit about baseball in over a decade . . . not like this.

As for the decision to warm up Zach Miner and Wil Ledezma in the top of the 8th . . . both of them lesser relievers for Detroit . . . and then use Ledezma after Grilli brain farted the bases loaded on walks . . . that was a wise choice. At that point, it doesn't matter who Leyland puts out there . . . except for Todd Jones. A's were one good swing away from putting Game 4 in the bag. That was all on Grilli, and because it was likely at that point for Detroit to have to play a Game 5 . . . you don't match Macha and put your closer, Jones, out there because you might need him as fresh as possible for the next game. Leyland didn't forget which team was in the rough spot. Ledezma got Scutaro to pop foul for the out, and that was the biggest stroke of luck in the game.

I think another major stroke of luck for Detroit was Ken Macha's decision to use the A's closer, Huston Street, to try and close out the game with one out in the bottom of the 7th. That, right there, is a quiet white flag. I don't care how many times the A's used Street for multiple innings before this game. With a tie game in the 7th in an elimination game, using your closer that early and expecting him to pitch 2.66 innings from that point literally tells the opposition that you don't trust the rest of your available staff. Street pitched well, too, which was a shame . . . for Ken Macha . . . and A's fans everywhere. I give Street credit because the final pitch in the bottom of the 9th . . . regardless of the velocity . . . was a good pitch.

It was still tied in the bottom of the 9th, and the Tigers had already had some lucky breaks. Street was still in the game, and I figured that if he was out there in the 9th, that might be the best chance Detroit would have off of him. However, after Thames wasted a PH by swinging early for an out . . . and Granderson lined out to right with too much oomph in his swing . . . that's when the game began to shape for Detroit. Monroe got a nice single to center off a bad pitch. Polanco jumped on a similar early pitch, looping a single and moving Monroe to second.

Ordonez to the plate.

I'll say it again . . . Street's pitch was in a nice location.

It was a 93 MPH sinking fastball, according to the Fox radar gun, and it was dropping to Mags's knees on the inside of the plate. Street may have taken a little velocity off the ball, but it was in a good spot based off Mags's stance. Mags got right ahead of that pitch . . . and he hit the ball as well as a hitter could possibly hit it. The second it left the bat, Mags's connection was that solid . . . the ball shot into the night sky. It was similar to a Natural swing. Okay, no light towers exploded, and Mags looks nothing like Robert Redford, but it was an audible crack of the bat . . . gone. Just gone. There was zero chance for the wind to pull it back to the left fielder. Mags stroked that ball for the ages. I'd care to compare his swing with . . . this one.

Mags Makes His Best Gibby Impression, Celebrates His Colossal Game-Winner.

The difference between Mags's pitch and Gibby's pitch? Gossage hung that breaking ball inside. Gossage really blew that game. Street, in comparison, pitched valiantly in what was the last gasp of Oakland Athletics in the 2006 MLB post-season.

Mags had a perfect swing. It created the most recent perfect moment in Tigers history . . . to recall for decades.

It feels great to be dead wrong.

Tigers Celebrate as Mags Crosses the Plate.

Detroit Tigers . . . great team . . . great guys . . . showing the world that Major League Baseball still has a shred of hope to regain what it lost seemingly forever in 1994.

Boston who? Chicago what?

Hey Tigers, you earned it. Bless you.


[User Picture]From: pierce
2006-10-15 01:55 am (UTC)
my damn Mets are tanking.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 02:02 am (UTC)
I do not want the Tigers to face a stone-cold general in LaRussa in the WS.

Magic can end when another monster of the dugout brings his team to the plate.

Tigers did capitalize off really mediocre pitching by the Yanks, and they took great advantage of a sack of crap for hitting by the A's.

I think either opponent would be tough, but I'd rather see Detroit take their chances against a 2nd year manager in Willie Randolph. LaRussa is as calculated as Leyland, and he's due another WS ring any year now.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-16 11:50 am (UTC)

They did better . . . Series tied 2-2

That 12-5 conflagration of the Cards points to some life.

Man, that Beltran . . . pitch to him, and shit tends to hit the fan.

NYMs may not have Pedro or the best pitching staff, but they did win a bunch more during the regular season than the Cards. I'm not sure why the Cards only managed 83 wins . . . maybe they had an injury or whatever . . . this MLB stuff, I've only vaguely followed since August, with most of my focus on the Tigers.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-10-16 06:42 pm (UTC)

Re: They did better . . . Series tied 2-2

with a possible rain delay tonight, and the possibility of a game 7, it looks like the Tigers will be playing a tired, beat up NL team. whoever wins.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-16 06:48 pm (UTC)

Re: They did better . . . Series tied 2-2

That's possible.

There was something on the radio where they went through the question of whether or not too much time off would hurt Detroit.

It may hurt hitters, but anyone with a nagging but playable injury will have the extra time to heal a bit. Also, the pitching arms will all be well-rested.

If the hitters carry over their impatience from ALCS Game 4, however, this could be just enough advantage for either NL team's pitching staff to stay alive in the WS.
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[User Picture]From: pierce
2006-10-16 06:44 pm (UTC)

Re: They did better . . . Series tied 2-2

that was from me. i didn't realize my baby mamma had signed me out.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-16 06:57 pm (UTC)

Re: They did better . . . Series tied 2-2

Another key to watch is Joel Zumaya's health.

He was kept out of Game 4 ALCS with a wrist problem . . . they really could have used him in that 7th or 8th inning. Zumaya's clearly the best reliever on that team, even better than Jones, not considering Jones's experience. The rest of those Tigers relievers are good, but they're beatable. Zumaya's a devastating 1-2 punch when teamed up with Jones because, as a batter, they go from blazing 100 MPH pitches with plenty of action to someone in Jones who has a selection and is more finesse. It's really hard to adjust to that . . . their 1-2 is kind of a people changeup.
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[User Picture]From: hammerscythe
2006-10-15 02:58 am (UTC)
Ride the mojo, bro. Just freaking ride it out.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 03:00 am (UTC)
I have no choice but to . . . it's like the season, so far, for the Saints . . . comin' home, Benson be damned . . . right coach, good mix of guys down there, Bush is handling the weight on his shoulders well enough . . . and Brees was a solid choice.

I think the last piece of Detroit's puzzle was canning Dimitri Young. Guys like that were too plentiful on Detroit rosters for over a decade.
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[User Picture]From: hammerscythe
2006-10-15 05:34 am (UTC)
Team cancers kill locker rooms. Period. It's too good of a story for them not to win it all.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 05:50 am (UTC)
Next series . . . another test.

Big difference . . . Detroit goes on the road for the middle games. Big time importance on the first two. A hole for a club that hasn't sniffed even .500 ball in over a decade . . . pure danger falling behind.
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[User Picture]From: holzerhedrpca
2006-10-15 04:29 am (UTC)
I'll be rooting for Detroit in the Series. I hate the Cards and the Mets... well, who wants to see New York win again?

Secretly though, I'm jealous. Detroit's had a Stanley Cup and an NBA Championship this decade so far. A World Series title would only add to the hurt I feel waiting for one of my teams to get there and actually win. I'm tired of seeing New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles celebrate. I want to celebrate.

I wanna know how it feels.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 04:41 am (UTC)
As a Philly-centric fan, you should be jealous. It's been a regular title-town around here, especially with hockey, plus basketball and some college achievements.

I don't blame you, either. For years as a kid, I wondered why the Lions couldn't get strong and take a SB.

I'm not so foolish now, and I definitely appreciate the good times when they materialize. I'd be ranting forever like I did . . . shitting on the Tigers, completely and utterly, just like I did the Steelers . . . if I thought for one second, just one . . . that something wasn't right.

It's gotta be earned . . . otherwise, it's just like the years where a team sucks. Handouts won't do . . . and I see, at least on a longshot chance for a team like the Phillies . . . they keep that Howard guy going on the right path, and it doesn't look like that HR-slugger's the wrong kind of guy . . . Phillies might grab one. Way MLB still is . . . plenty of sad-sack organizations . . . better pitching on the Phils is probably the quickest way to a city championship.

First best way to get one, of course, is the Eagles.

Although, I'm getting really really really tired of the West Coast offense. For every Holmgren, there's a bunch of Mornhinwegs.
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[User Picture]From: holzerhedrpca
2006-10-15 04:59 am (UTC)
Don't let Andy Reid fool you. Morhinweg is just there as a favor so his family doesn't starve. Big Red is calling the shots in that offense. Do you really think an offense helmed by the idiot who deferred on an overtime coin toss would be as dominant as ours is right now?

But yeah, in principle, I'm not a big fan of the WCO either. I like my offense to grind the ball out on the ground and take shots down the field in the air. Still, what we have here in Philly works, and I'm not complaining.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 05:09 am (UTC)
My favorite system is what works best with what's available.

You can't teach Mike Vick to pass the ball and run WC. Atlanta's D has improved, but they're not underachieving as much because Mora's giving up on the finer points of QB with Vick and just letting him run . . . full gamble . . . especially when Atlanta gets behind early and they have to pass. Outside of one-dimension, that rushing dimension is phenomenal. When they can run, Atlanta's as worthy as Philly and some of the other generally well-regarded clubs.

Putting Daunte Culpepper in a WC doesn't work, either. That's pretty much what's going on down there, I think. He's never made quick decisions, especially in clutch, and when you have mediocre blockers, plus Daunte, despite the other shiny tools, they have to run more shotgun and get a spread going . . . anything to buy C-Pep just a little more time for the midget brain to find somebody in the air.

Put a Jeff Garcia or Chad Pennington with speed receivers . . . gotta have a gun arm, and those two wouldn't have ever shown any great potential if the guys they had catching weren't more possession-y out there.

The list goes on and on for every position, every style match, offense and defense. Reid's running the right style, obviously, in Philly, but I'm still laughing at the perpetual joke of even considering WC for Detroit. They were running Run and Gun well in the 90s . . . and then Bobby Ross came with the idea of ball control and power rushing, which pretty much sold Barry out the door. Then their next step, with Charlie Batch, no rec-TE, no rec-FB . . . no outs whatsoever . . . plus 1 #2 WR in Morton and a bunch of scrubs at WR . . . West Coast? LOLOLOL, forever, even more than Millen as a perpetual joke.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-16 02:18 am (UTC)
On Pennington . . . afterthought . . . I know Pennington and Moss hooked up at Marshall, but Pennington pre-shoulder-tears just isn't the same as the one today. He's probably smarter out there, but the arm's weaker . . .

Why can't we have just one actual super-WR-talent (Moss, Owens) connect with a super-QB-talent (Brady, McNabb) and just set a bunch of legit records? I don't even consider Peyton's WRs to be that great anymore, now that Harrison's getting older.
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[User Picture]From: thedeadfisharmy
2006-10-15 06:15 pm (UTC)
I was eager to read this in spite of hardly ever taking an interest in sports, partly because I was a witness to Boston's curse-breaking season, and partly since it would have meant so much to your grandad. It's good to know you got what you've been waiting for all these years, though with three classic underdog teams going all the way in the last three years, I have to admit that my suspension of disbelief is being tested. (Though, I suppose it was the White Sox and not the Cubs. I think I would have believed I was living in Bizarro World.) Is baseball going the way of "sports entertainment" (to use Vince McMahon's phrase)?

I say this not to cheapen your victory, but because it calls into question my own, and I want someone to reassure me that everything is okay. Heh.

P.S. I felt the same way when Oberlin's football team won its first game after a two (three?) year losing streak.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 10:23 pm (UTC)
He loved the Tigers a lot, so this would have meant tons more to him.

It seems like it should be Yankees or Dodgers every year .. . . although, Detroit never had championship droughts like BoSox, White Sox, Cubs . . .
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[User Picture]From: pollack1020
2006-10-15 11:50 pm (UTC)
Pistons win, Red Wings win, but nothing matches this. I can't even begin to describe it.

I might even be lucky enough to go to Game 1, which is the day after my birthday. That would be a birthday present to end all birthday presents.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-15 11:52 pm (UTC)
You should go, since this is the first time in many moons that it is worth watching the Tigers.

Not that the season in sum was neat to watch . . . I haven't watched much . . . just since August . . . but for post-season . . . any playoff game tends to be that much better in person.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2006-10-16 12:12 pm (UTC)

I'm Not Your Typical Homer.

Until 1994, I pretty much breathed baseball . . . started watching in 1983-1984. I did little league right up through to high school. I wasn't good enough to make the HS team, but up until that point, I spent most summers trying to learn every position, what to do, you name it, I had studied and played the position. Went to a number of games . . . best game I attended was a Dave Stewart no-hitter at the Skydome in 1990.

1994 really killed it for me. Also, most of the teams went to slugger-heavy lineups, and the pitchers, my favorite position . . . ERAs went crazy, so many shitty pitching staffs, not enough quality pitchers . . . really really bothered me. Suddenly, guys like Ozzie Smith and Rickey Henderson . . . Rod Carew . . . didn't mean as much as the super-sluggers. Strikeouts by batters were tolerated because so many sluggers existed on rosters . . . so many guys only batted one way . . . swing for the fence.

Pitching staffs are still filled with crap for quality on too many teams. Guys like Reyes on the Mets . . . good sign that the SB still has a pulse. Maybe this Howard guy on the Phils isn't a juicer. I don't want to see McGwire 5-10 years from now, what with bitch tits and all the side-effects.

Above all . . . Selig the hell out of the league. Commish has got to come from outside of this . . . not a hand-picked lackey from the owners. MLB needs a stronger leader, and Selig's history is a sad joke.

One thing that's better now . . . more stadiums with a classic feel to them like Minute Maid, et cetera . . . growing up, lots of astro-turf space stadiums were out there. Three Rivers, you name it . . . way too many like that. I hate Comerica, though . . . can't stand the circus feel to it, and the design was all wrong . . . would have rather had a copy of Tiger Stadium (which the Rangers somewhat emulated) than this open-air freak show with the merry-go-round and the deep power-alleys.

I could probably learn to love the pitcher's park that it is . . . I do love pitching . . . I just wish that Detroit had prepared for this new stadium and stocked better pitching and some left-handed bats after the 1999 season.
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