Sunday, July 23, 2006

2006 Tigers Unlike Other Great Detroit Teams Of The Past

1907-09 -- the Tigers teams of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford. Managed by "Ee-yah" Hughie Jennings. A pennant-winning trifecta, but no championship. Drummed out of the World Series each year -- twice by the Cubbies. Imagine that.

1934 -- first pennant winner in a quarter century, an interlude from the vaunted Yankees. But despite names like Gehringer, Greenberg, and Cochrane, the Gashouse Gang from St. Louis takes them out in seven games.

1935 -- The G-Men and company do it! They bring home the world title, bumping the Cubs -- sweet revenge. Manager Cochrane's boys play with his personality: tough, relentless, fearless. Some say this is the best Tigers team ever.

1940 -- Not a great team, but another pennant winner. The Tigers have just enough to nip the pack, but a good Cincinnati Reds team spoils the party.

1945 -- World Champs, but history doesn't treat them well. The Tigers are "wartime champs" -- a kind way of saying they did it against watered-down competition. Again the Cubs are vanquished in the World Series.

1968 -- Legendary. The come-from-behind team. Denny McLain wins 31 games. Willie Horton slugs 36 homeruns. A 1-3 deficit in the Series is overcome against the Cardinals. Horton's throw to nip Lou Brock in Game 5. Mickey Lolich's three Series wins. The Best Tiger Team Ever -- for the Baby Boomers.

1984 -- 35-5. Wire-to-wire leaders. 7-1 in the postseason. Gibby off of Gossage. Bless You Boys!

2006 -- ??

Each of the Tigers' pennant-winning teams have something that identifies them. You don't win in a vacuum.

As the Tigers get closer to the playoffs, the question will arise. If not this season, for the history buffs: What was the face of the 2006 Detroit Tigers?

The manager? Jim Leyland is craggy, weathered, and brilliant.

The young pitchers? Justin Verlander and Joel Zumaya -- to name but two -- are fierce stallions.

The rest of them? Not an easy call.

The Tigers this season are an all-for-one, one-for-all bunch. No true superstar -- Pudge Rodriguez excluded. But Pudge doesn't carry the team. They are, to be honest, reminders of the 2004 Pistons. Another one-for-all, all-for-one group -- Larry Brown's boys. The Tigers simply go out and play good, tough, hard-nosed baseball. There's no glitz about them. The spotlight is evenly cast throughout their roster.

If the Tigers win anything of any substance this season (read: at least the ALCS), I am telling you that it will be darn near impossible to classify them along with other Tigers pennant winners. They're unlike any of them.

They haven't won a darn thing yet, that's for certain. But it's not too soon to start thinking about how they stack up against the ghosts of pennant winners past.

Is it?


Blogger Ozz said...

That's what is cool about the team's history. Each of those eras' championship teams are so different from each other. The teams of each era are like different characters in a story.

12:35 AM  

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