Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taking on Tom Verducci and his BBWAA vote.

In a few days, I will, as part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, cast my ballots for the best of the best in the American and National League, for the 2011 big league baseball season.

I try to be as objective as I can, as a baseball fan, and this year it will be very difficult, for me, as a Detroit Tigers fan, because of the Tigers winning the A.L. Central, and the terrific seasons of pitchers Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde, 1st baseman Miguel Cabrera, and DH Victor Martinez.

That said, I have come across an article by Tom Verducci from SI.com, where Verducci gives his winners...for now...because his choices must be kept confidential until the awards are announced...of both league MVP's, Cy Young, Managers, and Rookie's of the Year.

Now, as a Tigers fan, I know Jim Leyland has his critics, and may, or not be the best manager in the American League, , but what I read today in Mr. Verducci's article, is really, really, disturbing.

Manny Acta, the manager of the Cleveland Indians, has done a good job this season, very commendable.

However, the problem I have with Mr. Verducci's voting is he has completely left off the Tigers Jim Leyland, the manager who actually led his team to the division championship...over Acta and the Indians.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to vote Jim Leyland as the A.L. Manager of the Year, but to not vote for him either first, second, or third, and to include Acta, who's team finished well behind Leyland's, is ridiculous, and, in my opinion, Verducci, and the BBWAA, should be ashamed of themselves.

Verducci also goes on to explain why he also left off Tigers closer Jose Valverde, the best closer in the American League, off his  A.L. Cy Young ballot...

"whose perfection (47-for-47 in save chances) was too pampered. Get back to us when you actually pitch more than an inning or get a save that involves an inherited runner."

Isn't the job of the closer to get out the hitters he faces when the game is on the line?

The Tigers are champions of the A.L. Central Division for several reasons, and when Jim Leyland asked Jose Valverde to come in and close out the game for the Tigers, Valverde was a perfect 47 for 47.

And, as the Red Sox continue to collapse in the race for the A.L. Wild Card, all Josh Beckett did last night for the Red Sox was go out and lose to the Orioles...when his team needed him to stop the bleeding.

Oh, Verducci put Beckett 5th on his ballot, over Valverde.

It's time for baseball do do some serious looking at the people who are given the right to choose and vote for baseball's awards.

Verducci can have his opinion, yes, but his status as a baseball writer doesn't give him, or any other baseball writer,  the right to ignore a manager of a division champion, over a manager who finished 15 games behind that same manager.

To ignore Jim Leyland is just plain wrong.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Detroit Tigers are your A.L. Central Division Champs

Friday night in Oakland, California, the Detroit Tigers exorcised 24 years of baseball demons, winning the American League Central Division title, beating the A's, 3-1.

Doug Fister, a trade deadline acquisition by Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, pitched 7 innings, allowing just 3 A's hits, and 1 run, striking out 5 batters.

Jose Valvede, baseball's best closer, came on in the ninth inning to get his 45th save of the season in 45 chances.

The Tigers have been my favorite baseball team since I was a little guy in Kalamazoo, Michigan, playing catch with my brothers, and playing baseball on the sandlots, and then then in Little League baseball in Portage, where I went to high school.

From the late 60's with Bill Freehan, Al Kaline, Mickey Lolich, and Jim Northrup, through the 1972 Eastern Division title, then some not so good teams, but memorable players, like The Bird, Mark Fidrych, Ron LeFlore, Steve Kemp, and Rusty Staub.

In the 1980's we Tigers fans were blessed with a good baseball team, young guys like Alan Trammell, Lou Whittaker, Kirk Gibson, and Jack Morris, led by one of the best managers ever, Sparky Anderson.

That nucleus of young players won the 1984 World Series, then hung on for a few more years, winning the A.L. East in 1987, another magical year in the Motor City.

That was 24 years ago.

24 years.

The Tigers had some exciting and un forgettable players in the 1990's, led by slugging first baseman Cecil Fielder.

"Big Daddy" left Japan to come and play for the Tigers, and in his first year in Motown, 1990, he hit 51 home runs, the first big league player to hit 51 HRS since George Foster of the Reds in 1977.

Fielder hit 44 HRS in 1992, and led the A.L. in RBI for three straight years, 1990'91'92.

The Tigers were winners in Big Daddy's first three years, but after 1993, the Tigers would go 13 years without a winning record.

Even though the Tigers weren't winning, we got to see good ball players like Bobby Higginson, one of my all-time favorite Tigers players, Travis Fryman, one of the best Tigers 3rd baseman ever, Justin Thompson, Gabe Kapler, Juan Encarnacion, and Tony Clark, the 6'7" first baseman who could hit from both sides of the plate, hitting prodigious home runs and making him a favorite with Tigers fans.

In the 2000's we had Dimitri Young, who once hit 3 HRS on Opening Day, Jeff Weaver, Todd Jones, and in 2004, Ivan, "Pudge" Rodriguez joined a young team and taught them how to win.

Walk off HRS by guys like Carlos Pena and Eric Munson, former shortstop Alan Trammell becoming the manager, and losing 119 games in '03, were some good, and not so good times through the early part of the last decade.

Then, in 2006, Jim Leyland was brought in to manage the ball club, Magglio Ordonez brought a powerful bat to Detroit, Kenny Rogers brought the pitching staff stability, and the 2006 club ended years of frustration by winning the American League Pennant.

The Tigers continued to build a solid, winning baseball team, trading for Miguel Cabrera,Austin Jackson, and Victor Martinez, and drafting a future Cy Young and super star fire ball pitcher named Justin Verlander.

The Detroit Tigers are winners once again, champions of their division.

So many close calls, so many heartbreaks, starting with that horrible A.L. Championship series against the Minnesota Twins in 1987, losing 4 games to 1.

The magic that was 2006, leading the A.L. Central Division for the entire summer, only to get caught by, who else, the Twins, and then finishing second, and getting the Wild Card playoff berth.

That 2006 post season, hammering the Yankees to win the Division Series, then watching Ordonez crush a Houston Street pitch for a walk off, game winning, series winning, and pennant clinching home run.

The Tigers didn't make the playoffs in 2007, or 2008, 2009, or in 2010.

The 2009 loss to the Twins, who else, in the 163rd game of the season, sending the Tigers back home, was as low as it got for fans like me.
Through it all, 44 years, watching my heroes of the '60s, and the ups and downs of 6 decades of Detroit Tigers baseball, tonight's win was simply magnificent, a crowning achievement of being a fan, never giving up on your team, always giving them your support, 24/7/365.

I don't know how far the Tigers will go in the playoffs this year, but I do know I will be right there, for every pitch, every at bat, ever thrilling moment, cheering on my heroes, just as I did for the boys of 1968, 72, 84, 87, and 2006.

Here's to the 2011 American League Central Division Champion Detroit Tigers, may you continue on this magical ride through October, playing Tigers baseball, and giving us fans one more year to remember.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some thoughts on baseball

Today I was thinking since it's been a couple of weeks since I wrote anything I'd try to sit here at the computer and share a few thoughts I have on baseball with a couple of weeks to go in the regular season.

First I'd like to brag a little on my Detroit Tigers, who enter today 13.5 games ahead in the American League Central Division, their magic number to clinch down to either 1 ChiSox or Indians loss, or a Tigers win.

The Tigers have never won the A.L. Central.

They did finish second a couple of times, most recently in 2009, when they tied for the division lead with the Twins at the end of the regular season, only to lose the now infamous Game 163.

Previous to that the Tigers finished second to the Twins in 2006, but were the A.L. Wild Card team, and went on to beat the Yankees and the A's to get to the World Series.

The Tigers last division title came in 1987, when they won the old  A.L. Eastern Division, where they battled the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Brewers.

After 24 years it will be a great Tigers fans day when they do finally clinch, a chance to celebrate  baseball in Detroit, and to look forward to October baseball in the Motor City.

In a couple of weeks, after the regular season will be over, and it will be time for the post season awards, and being a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance,  I will submit my ballot for the best managers, hitters and pitchers, in baseball.

Right now, if the season ended today, my vote for National League MVP would go to the Dodgers Matt Kemp.

Kemp, the Dodgers center fielder, is, to me, the best all around player in the N.L. this year.

Kemp, a former Jacksonville Suns player, is 4th in batting average in the National League, hitting 314, is 2nd in the N.L. in runs scored, with 99, 2nd in RBI, with 110, and tied for 3rd in the N.L. in HRS, with 33.

What makes Kemp my MVP is his performance on the field for the Dodgers, a team limping through a horrible season on, and off the field.

With all the off field things going on at Chavez Ravine, the messy divorce of the Dodgers owners, bankruptcy, Major League Baseball taking over the day to day control of the team, and the not so Dodger like performance on the field, Matt Kemp has stayed focused on the game of baseball.

A once runaway A.L. East featuring the Yankees and Red Sox has turned into a three team run for the division title, and the lone Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

The Yankees have are 4.5 games ahead of Boston, who are only 3 games ahead of the surging Tampa Bay Rays, who were out of the playoff race just a few weeks ago.

Tampa is 9-5 in September, and are 10-5 against the BoSox this year.

Tampa plays 3 more games this weekend in Fenway Park, before heading to the Bronx for a 4 games series against the 1st place Yankees.

After that series, the Yankees play Boston for 3 at Yankee Stadium before heading to Tampa for the final 3 games of the regular season.

It's possible the Rays, playing good baseball, could win the Wild Card, or even the division, leaving fans in Boston or New York very, very, unhappy.

Right now the Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, Phillies, Brewers, and Diamondbacks are the division leaders.

Of those six leaders, only three, the Yankees, Rangers, and Phillies, were in the playoffs last year.

I picked the Red Sox and Phillies to play in the World Series at the start of the baseball season, and while the Phillies are playing well, the Brewers and the Diamondbacks are going to be very competitive in the playoffs.

The Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera collected his 600th career save the other day, joining former San Diego Padres Trevor Hoffman, with 601, as the only closers with 600 saves.

Rivera will obviously break, and then shatter, the saves record, and I hope when it's their time for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the baseball writers will do the right thing and elect them both...on the FIRST ballot.

Here's a shout out to  the best TV guys in baseball, well, their the best that I've seen on my TV, the Marlins Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton.

I get the Marlins, the Rays, the ChiSox, and the Cubs on regular cable TV, and I watch the Tigers games on my computer.

I don't regularly watch games on my computer other than the Tigers, so I haven't heard ever broadcast team.

That said, Waltz and Hutton are my favorite.

Waltz is very good on play by play, a veteran baseball announcer who's been the Marlins lead TV guy for seven years.

Hutton always inserts plenty of old school baseball history along with his outstanding commentary.

I'm not a Marlins fan, but I enjoy listening to the Fish games because of Waltz and Hutton.

As you may remember, I go onto FOX Sports Baseball Hot Streak every day, picking a player to get at least 1 hit, or a pitcher to get 5, or more strike outs, or a win.

I have still never gotten past 13 correct picks in a row, and currently I'm at 5 in a row.

My pick for today is the Dodgers Matt Kemp, against the Pirates.

It should be a great weekend of baseball, enjoy the games, and when we post again the Detroit Tigers should be A.L. Central Division Champions.

Play Ball!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Detroit Tigers history, my latest for the Detroit Tigers Scorecard Blog

The Detroit Tigers have has 23 American League batting champions since they came into the American League in 1901.

Can you name the nine men who have won those 23 titles?

Can you name the Tigers batting champion who won four titles, all in odd numbered years?

The answers can be found here, in my latest article for the Detroit Tigers Scorecard Blog.