Monday, October 16, 2006

Burning Questions: ALCS Game 4

ALCS Game 4
Burning Questions

This one looked rough for a while, didn't it?

Truthfully, I thought we might be looking at a Game 5. Again, I should have eaten my words. I've been guilty of extreme pessimism with these guys, stemming from their last 50 games of the regular season. But suddenly MLB is doing its NHL impersonation: the regular season doesn't mean diddly.

As far as rollercoasters go, the last couple innings were wild, weren't they?

Oh, you have no idea. Tigers leave the bases loaded in the seventh, which I was sure was going to haunt them. Then the A's get the leadoff man on in the 8th, with the "Isn't he DUE?" Frank Thomas coming up. Double play. Whew! THEN, Jason Grilli loads the bases with walks. Ugh. Then Wil Ledezma gets a pop up.

Then the first two Tigers go out in the 9th. Looks like extra frames. Then Craig Monroe and Placido Polanco get base hits.

And THEN...

Great baseball theatre.

How big of a loss would Game 4 had been for the Tigers?

Hard to say, but pretty big. It would have put the pressure squarely on them to win Game 5. 3-0 series leads, to me, are the worst because you have everything to lose and nothing to gain. You just want to get the damn thing over with. Just glad that we don't have to worry about that now.

Would you EVER have imagined that Frank Thomas would go hitless in the ALCS?

No, but that's what makes baseball such a great game. Sometimes the pitchers get ya, sometimes you wear them out. In a way, I feel bad for Thomas, because he had such a great year and it's a shame the lasting memory is of him going hitless in the series. It should take nothing away from what he accomplished in 2006.

Did Placido Polanco actually ever make an out during the ALCS?

The stats say he went 9-for-17, but I really don't remember any of the outs. The guy is like a hitting machine. When he came up in the 9th inning and Monroe at first base, I genuinely thought he'd end it with a gapper to right center. What a player he is. He was absolute poison to the A's.

Some words about Milton Bradley, please.

It was nice to talk about Bradley for what he did ON the field, for a change. He wore the Tigers out, and his catch in the 9th inning off Curtis Granderson, on a bad leg, was impressive. The Fox cameras later caught him pointing at the Tigers, a sign of his respect for them. A class move for a guy who's not normally not known for being such.

Did Jim Leyland leave Jason Grilli in too long in the 8th inning?

Well, obviously not, because the A's didn't score. But that's hindsight. I thought he should have been lifted after the first two walks and Nick Swisher at the plate. Eight straight balls at that point, and few were even close to being strikes. It forced Ledezma to come in with no margin for error. I know it's considered unseemly to question Leyland and his magic wand, but I thought he got lucky.

So where does Magglio Ordonez's homer rank amongst great Detroit sports moments?

Wow, that's a toughie. It will be remembered for ages, that's for sure. Years from now, people will be telling their grandkids that it came in Game 7. Did you know that a lot of people think Kirk Gibson's homerun off Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series came late in the series? But it was actually Game 1. If the A's had won that series, it's doubtful that Gibby's homer would have been as legendary.

As for Maggs' shot, I'd certainly put it in the top five. Gibson's homerun off Goose Gossage in the 1984 World Series; Steve Yzerman's overtime goal in Game 7 of the conference semifinals against St. Louis in 1996; Jim Northrup's World Series-winning hit in Game 7 in 1968; and Vinnie Johnson's winning shot in the 1990 NBA Finals would join it.

Who should the Tigers hope to play in the World Series: the Mets, or the Cardinals?

Either would be fine. Neither of those clubs has the pitching to keep up with the Tigers. Sunday's Game 4 of the NLCS was 12-5 for the Mets. You'll never see such a score in any game involving the Tigers, unless they're the ones getting the 12.

The idea of beating both New York teams in the postseason, though, is juicy. But the oldtimers, like me, would also like to see a Tigers-Cardinals Series. Those two teams have unfinished business, you see. The Cardinals beat the Tigers in 1934, and the Tigers returned the favor 34 years later. So a Tigers-Cards Series would be the rubber match, so to speak.


Blogger Ozz said...

It would be cool to see them take out both NY teams, but the 'traditional' Series has its appeal too.

If the Tigers faced the Cards, wouldn't it be odd if the pitching matchups worked out so that Bonderman started a game against Weaver?

11:08 PM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...

Wow...never thought of that. VERY interesting. The media would eat it up.

12:37 AM  

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