I love the Detroit Tigers. One of the first things I did when I got a real job 13 years ago was buy season tickets. My wife and I have been going ever since. We have had some great memories. You know, like dragging my wife who was 9 months pregnant to a game in 90 degree heat, because, well, I'm not going to miss a game. We laugh about it now (mostly).
Anyway, I agree with many other people's thoughts that the sky is not falling. I just have some very serious general concerns. Do I think the season is over because of a skid in April? No. Do I think fans are overreacting to this skid? Yes. Do I think we have some great talent? Absolutely. Do I think we have a good manager? Yes. Do I think we have had a good team for a while now? Yes.
I think the key here is the difference between good and great. 2006 was awesome, obviously. I would say that season was great. I mean, who wouldn't? The Tigers have been a good baseball team since then. We certainly should be pleased with the improvement.
My concern is that we have been good to pretty good since 2006. We have not been great. Yes, I understand it is very hard to win the World Series. I mean, look at all the Yankees' talent, and we seem to do a pretty good job beating them in the playoffs. Still, the hallmark of a great team is going to the World Series, and hopefully winning it (in my opinion, obviously).
I am certainly not suggesting that all great teams go to the World Series every single year. That would be a bit silly. My point is just that we have been good, but just not quite good enough. This concerns me. I think we have squandered too many opportunities. So, does my rambling have a point? Yes.
I think a significant part of these squandered opportunities is on Jim Leyland. As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I think he is a good manager. He makes good decisions, and does so quite often. He got us to the World Series six years ago.
However, I do not think Jim Leyland is a great manager. Great managers do not keep pitchers with limited big league experience in the bottom of the ninth inning who are obviously incapable of throwing a strike at that moment. I mean, seriously, did anyone on this planet besides Jim Leyland think Villarreal was going to throw a strike in Friday's Yankees game? How about leaving Verlander in too long, letting him surrender the lead, and the moving to, oh I don't know, Schlereth? Yes, I know we can cherry pick pitching decisions all day long, but it would be hard to argue that he has not made some puzzling (at best) pitching decisions.
I could go on – baffling lineups, bizarre loyalties, constant nonchalant attitude, etc. Regarding the nonchalant attitude, I understand that just because I am paying fan, Jim Leyland does not answer directly to me and the rest of the fan base. Still, I feel like his nonchalant attitude about most things is contagious, and shows up in situations like when the team seemed to sleepwalk through the Seattle series.
I know bashing Leyland is not the thing to do here, but all I am asking is for people to be honest. He is good, but not great. He is a .500 manager (lifetime), .533 with the Tigers. That is good, but not great. With the talent we have, I would like to see a great manager. Do I have a great manager in my back pocket we should hire? No. I just think the team should give it some thought.