Wednesday, October 7, 2009

At the End of All Things

I don’t know where to start with this one (by the way, the game WAS still going on when I got home). I’ve been blogging the Tigers since 2007 (and a tiny bit of 2006), and only one other time have I had as hard a post to write as this one (and that dealt not with the end of a season, but with the loss of a certain beloved catcher). In 2006, we made it all the way to the World Series, but as that went on, you felt like it was not going to end well. 2007 was another “slow death” in that you had time to prepare for and accept what would happen. 2008 never really got off the ground, and since the Tigers spent nary a day in first place, the end felt more like a mercy killing than anything else (that and at the time I had temporarily become only a part-time blogger). This is different. This is not a “slow death.” This is more getting a phone call in the middle of the night saying “There’s been an accident.” This was having your season snatched from you. This was waking up this morning with the sudden realization that I’m not going to see these boys for five months, and some I may never see again, and with the way it ended, I never got to say good-bye or hasta luego.

I’m not going to have a whole lot of detail, because I missed most of the game (though I was able to follow part of it on a coworker’s cell phone). The first (and most positive) thing you can say was that Rick Porcello absolutely rose to the occasion and was very, very impressive. Shame about the throwing error. There was some question about Zach Miner coming in to pitch, but he’d actually been really good over his last several outings. Meanwhile, after all the controversy and bad press, I believe Miguel Cabrera redeemed himself with a double and a two-run homer and came oh-so-close to scoring the go-ahead run. And he played his heart out, I could tell that. They all played their hearts out. I guess another positive would be the way Magglio Ordoñez finished out the season. Back in May, most would not have figured he’d have a chance to reach .300, and he ended the season at .310. Let’s hope he’s got it figured out. And of course, we’ll be haunted by that non-call by the home plate umpire on the Inge at-bat in the 12th with the bases loaded. It sure looked to me like he got hit.

And another trivial frustration was that you could ultimately label this a “Metrodome victory.” The most obvious piece of evidence was Raburn losing a ball in the lights and playing a single into a triple, which turned out to be very costly (Raburn giveth, and Raburn taketh away). And both the game-tying and game-winning hits for Minnesota were two of the weakest ground ball singles you could imagine (Rodney pitched better than his line would indicate). I doubt those go through on grass. Even the Inge HBP that wasn’t called may have been Metrodome-induced. There was a lot of discussion this morning on how the umpires rely a lot on sound when a pitch brushes a player’s jersey. The Metrodome is very, very loud, and especially so last night. Thank God our boys never have to set foot in that building ever again. This time for real. But I’ll conclude this most melancholy of posts by saying that it was one of the most hard-fought games I have ever witnessed, and our boys didn’t go down meekly. Perhaps some Dylan Thomas is appropriate (“Rage, rage against the dying of the light”). Or perhaps thinking about using the Braveheart speech wasn’t the best idea (after all, things didn’t really end well for the Scots there). The Tigers fought valiantly until the end, but ultimately our season became one hell of a Shakespearean tragedy.

I do plan on watching the postseason, but I may skip the Twins-Yankees series (tonight’ll be no problem, cuz I work at the time that game is on). If you want me to weigh in on the teams, I’ll do so. Everyone expects the Yankees to steamroll the Twins, and that’ll probably be the case, because the Twins just don’t have the pitching. They might make things more interesting than people think just because their offense has been on a roll (and I’d like to point out that thus far, CC Sabathia actually hasn’t pitched particularly well in postseason). Over in the other ALDS, we’ve got two teams that at times, have both had pitching issues, but the Red Sox have generally been better than the Angels on the mound. Plus, the Angels just can’t seem to beat the Red Sox in the postseason. Still, they do have home field advantage. In the National League, the Dodgers’ issues with their starting rotation may lead to an earlier exit than anticipated, which I hope isn’t the case, but seriously, Randy Wolf against Chris Carpenter? Then there are the Rockies and the Phillies, which I can’t come up with anything for, because the Rockies are still kind of an unknown, while the Phillies have had massive problems with their bullpen. As for who I’m going to root for? Well, as I’ve said before, I DON’T hate the Yankees, and I certainly like them better than any of the other three AL teams in the postseason (which is one area where I allow myself to be vindictive). Ultimately, I’d like to root for the Dodgers, but as I said, they might not make it out of the NLDS. So here’s how things shake up for me, preference-wise:

National League:

American League:
Yankees>Angels>Twins>Red Sox

World Series:
Yankees=Cardinals (It’s a draw; I don’t care)
Dodgers/Cardinals/Rockies>Angels/Twins/Red Sox
Phillies>Twins/Red Sox

And sadly, I cannot conclude this post with an official next game preview. I can almost guarantee you that, barring injury, the next time we see the Tigers in action that counts, it’ll be Justin Verlander against Zack Greinke (and yes, they HAVE faced each other before; Justin got the upper hand, but this was way back in 2007; I am so totally getting ahead of myself). I’ll tell you one thing: I’m sure going to miss rushing home from school/work to catch the last two or three innings of games. I shall try to have the first part of my season review up within the next week (Hint: We didn’t really choke). I’ve also got part two (looking ahead to next season) planned, as well as an in-depth look at how each AL Central team’s schedules compare, month-by-month. And of course, there will undoubtedly be trades, negotiations, and free agents signings to cover. Hopefully I can keep myself busy for the next five months.

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