A perfect relay and tag nabbed Prince Fielder at home plate in the second inning of Game Two.
Dang You, Boys
There are other four-letter words I’d like to substitute for “Bless” now that Channel 4 has re-activated the “Bless You, Boys” slogan and song for this year’s World Series and the Tigers’ thus-far abysmal showing.
I wrote the lyrics to the summer of 1984 song hit that was “Bless You, Boys” … you can look it up … so I feel well qualified to switch the title now. The Tigers performance, on the field and in the dugout, through the first two games in San Francisco deserves an annoyed, even angry, response from Detroit fans. Some examples:
Fielder Thrown Out At Home:
That third-base coach Gene Lamont sent him home on Young’s double — with no outs — is maddening enough. But it was how Fielder went down at home that would make you want to pull your hair out. Where in the HELL was on-deck hitter Jhonny “Regular Spelling” Peralta when Prince was chugging home? He ended up sliding directly into the Giant’s catcher’s glove, and was called out in a close play. A slide to the OUTSIDE of the plate might have insured that all-important first run. Peralta should have been behind the plate, signaling to Fielder that the relay throw was coming in on the fair-ball side of the plate. If Prince throws himself to the outside, or maybe slides headfirst to the right side, using his left hand to find the plate, the run also might have scored. Peralta was nowhere to be found — as he often is in the field — and Fielder was out in a play that electrified the Giants and deflated the Tigers in the same manner that Sandoval’s first inning home run off Verlander did in Game One.
WHY? Doesn’t Jim Leyland INSIST that his guys perform these essential tasks? Is that another standard oldtime baseball move, like bunting and throwing home from the outfield, that no one bothers to practice anymore?
Leyland’s “Gold Standard” Managing
Yup, that’s what they call him. The “Gold Standard” of Major League managers. That being the case, was it really necessary for him to bound out of the dugout and pull Doug Fister, thereby blowing Game Two by bringing in his ridiculous bullpen?
Calling in the Tiger bullpen, at that time, late in Game Two … was equivalent to the Red Wings pulling their goalie late in the third period of a scoreless hockey game. Did anybody doubt that the bullpen was going to give up the run, or two, that would guarantee the game for the Giants? Anybody? Can we have a show of hands?
Fister was pitching a terrific, even heroic, game. Unless he had told Leyland that he was exhausted and couldn’t continue before he took the mound in the bottom of the Seventh — and if he did why was he out there at all? — you KNOW he would have handled the Giants better than the bullpen ultimately did when they replaced him in that situation. The Giants Pence got a lousy single off Fister, their third hit, and — blam — Leyland pulls him out immediately, as if he were going from strength to strength? Is the Tiger manager the only guy in the stadium who doesn’t know that going from Fister to the bullpen was the sure way of surrendering the game? Is that not what happened, as if on cue?
The Bunt That Wouldn’t Roll Foul
Nobody’s fault; that happens. But I’m convinced that one of the reasons catcher Gerald Laird didn’t field the bunt … was that NO ONE was covering third. Cabrera had run in on the bunt, and the bag at third went completely unguarded. Where the hell was Peralta, the shortstop? Laird had no choice, and no play, if he had picked up the ball as he ran up the line. Thus, another nail in the Tigers’ Game Two coffin.
Leyland Plays the Infield Back With the Bases Loaded Late in a 0-0 Game
The Gold Standard of Managers, who giggled his way through his post-game press interview, said he was “delighted” with how that situation worked out. Honest, delighted. By playing his infield back, after his bullpen walked the bases loaded in the Seventh, the Tiger manager was happy to give up that first run to the Giants on a ground ball to second that certainly could have led to a force-play at home, and a possible double play on a relay to first. Really, Leyland was totally pleased with that outcome, a run-scoring double play; he said so later. Delighted to be behind only 1-0 with a Tiger team that couldn’t, wouldn’t, hit or score … with only six outs left to go. It was over then, because they are … thus far … the team that Refuses To Hit. Loaded with sure-outs at key places up and down his lineup — why not front load the order with Jackson, Fielder, Cabrera and Young hitting 1-2-3-4? — Mr. Gold Standard chokes his own offensive attack.
Who Was More Annoying — The Announcers or the Home Plate Umpire?
Take your pick. I’ve normally dismissed fans who cry about “homer” umpires or national announcers who seem to give short-shrift to Detroit teams … but between the two of them Thursday night it was hard to decide who was more frustrating, more annoying, more maddening to observe or hear. Do the Tigers not even care enough to argue, even a little, questionable ball-and-strike calls in an important game? If they thought maybe the television announcers might have tossed in a word — even ONE — for them about homer calls made behind home plate, they don’t know the one-sided Giants-infatuated Fox announcing team. A putrid and biased TV performance.
Leyland’s Jolly Post-Game Performance
The manager actually got to the point where he was laughing about the ball that hit poor Fister in the head. He detailed the questions the Tigers trainer asked the pitcher, which really seemed to break the manager up — “What town are we in?” … yuk, yuk … “San Francisco” Leyland reported. What could be funnier than that? And wasn’t it interesting that the home plate umpire, who was leaning the Giants way in his calls all night, said on the Fox “Game Microphone” or whatever they call it … that Fister had the ball “glance” off the BACK of his head. The Tiger pitcher got smacked right in the side of the head, a direct blow, after which he amazingly continued to play. The home umpire, calling balls and strikes, couldn’t even see where Fister was struck! Worse, Leyland said the same thing after the game … “a glancing blow off the back of his head.” Were either of them really paying attention Thursday night? You have to wonder.
The Tigers Lost Opportunity
Anybody remember the 1968 World Series? The Tigers pitching star, Denny McLain, a 31-game winner, got shelled in Game One. Just like Verlander Wednesday. Up stepped, in Game Two, unsung hero Mickey Lolich, who put the Tigers back on course for the ultimate World Series victory that would feature his three incredible pitching wins.
The heroic Doug Fister gave the ‘12 Tigers an even better performance in Thursday’s Game Two, and was let down horribly by his hitters and his manager. History could have, might have, been repeated. But the “Boys,” darn ‘em, let all of us down.
Final Complaint: Even the Media Sucked Thursday
Not everybody; Dan Miller and the Channel 2 coverage has been thorough and good. The Egomaniac who is the Channel 7 Sports Anchor and Director flashed only the final score of Game Two … ten seconds of Tigers World Series coverage … then went to a long emotional tribute to his “friend” Emanuel Steward, the boxing great who died earlier Thursday. The guy even cried during an earlier report about Steward on the 5 O’clock news. But ten seconds for the Tigers?
And the Egomaniac who is the Channel 4 Sports Anchor and Director rapped up his post-game Tiger report on the late news with a call to go to San Francisco for a press interview with the Giants Sandoval, who is nicknamed The Panda. Surprise! The Channel 4 coverage cuts to a picture of an actual Panda, with a Giants baseball hat, supposedly sitting behind the Press Room mikes. Man, what could be funnier than THAT after the home team has blown a winnable Game Two of the Series? To his credit, though, the Channel 4 guy failed to run a cartoon featuring himself for probably the first time in years.
Dang You, Boys … Damn the Media … and Screw Those Poseur Showoff Giants
I’d like to use stronger terms about all three. Yeah, I wrote the Channel 4 song, and it was junky — but it was back when the team played like real Tigers. After Thursday, nothing about this Tigers World Series team resembles the magic year of 1984.