Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The long way home

I'm not ready to write that "If you'd have told me back in April that the Tigers would make it to the World Series..." post just yet. Obviously, it was a fantastically surprising baseball season in Detroit. As Big Al said, it's been the "most unexpectedly enjoyable season" many - if not all of us - in this area have ever experienced. And in a couple of days, I'll be able to articulate my thoughts on the 2006 Detroit Tigers, which I've been wanting to write for the last couple of months. (Billfer is already way ahead of me - and eloquently so.)

What's most disappointing is how the Tigers played on baseball's biggest stage. I don't want to say they beat themselves, because that sounds like sour grapes and I was sore enough after Game 4. But I don't think most of the country (those who bothered to watch the World Series, if you pay attention to all the chatter about ratings) didn't get to see these Tigers at their best. They weren't able to see what we witnessed all summer long in Detroit, as our team danced with the best record in the majors.

But as I watched the Cardinals get their trophy, I felt really good for the St. Louis fans. Two years ago, I was able to visit a friend out there and I demanded that we spend a big chunk of the weekend at (the old) Busch Stadium. And that was some of the most fun I've ever had at a baseball game. The fans are great. It's like a college football game out there, with the love, support, and spirit they show for the Cardinals. So I'm really happy they get to celebrate.

I'm also happy for Jeff Weaver. Okay, I took a shot at him in the comments of my last post, but it was good-natured. After the Angels cut him earlier this season, he looked like he might be done. But he revived himself in St. Louis in the best way possible.

Weaver beating the Tigers to clinch a World Series victory is the kind of situation that compels a lot of sportswriters to abuse the word "irony." But he gave a lot to the Tigers during the four years he was here, racking up a bunch of innings without many positive stats to show for the effort. He fought hard to give his team - which was usually bad - a chance to win, and was easily the only thing worth watching during some rough years at Comerica Park.

And I was pissed when Dave Dombrowski traded him in 2002. Obviously, that deal worked out for the Tigers. Weaver was essentially a sacrifice for a franchise that just finished losing the World Series.

(I even remember where I was when I heard about that deal. I was helping my sister put together a TV stand at her first apartment in South Carolina. And I whapped one of the shelves with a screwdriver when I saw the news on TV. Don't tell Lil' Sis that's why the VCR shelf was kind of wobbly.)

So here's a sincere tip of the cap to the Cardinals and their fans. If the Tigers weren't involved, I surely would've rooted for them to win the World Series.

And warm hugs and pats on the back to the Tigers and their fans. It was one hell of a season, as we were all reminded just how fun baseball could be in Detroit. Let's hope this is the start of some sustained excellence at the corner of Montcalm and Witherall (I know - it'll never have the same ring to it), a la the 1991 Atlanta Braves. It didn't have the ending we wanted, but it's been just about the best story we've read in a long time around here.

P.S. Kudos to Mike McClary for a great title to his pre-Game 5 post. I wish I'd have thought of that one. Further thanks to Mike for asking me to participate in The Daily Fungo Podcast throughout this season. He picked one hell of a time to get into the Tigers blog and podcast business.

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