What seemed to be an oxymoron in 2009 for the Detroit Tigers has become Irony. In a season that has had more ups and downs than a Gene Simmons excersize tape, the Motor City Bengals found a way to win three in Tampa. Only fitting in a season that has been one of the strangest in recent memory. One that has seen Tigers fans cringe, celebrate, cringe again, and then wonder what in the hell just happened.
One that has seen the offense downright stink, just to clean up that stench with walk off singles, doubles and home runs. The Bullpen has been horrible in 2009. It has been downright amazing. Fernando Rodney’s 97% save percentage has cause more emergency room visits and blood pressure spikes than any pitcher in this city since the unbreakable Rollercoaster Jones. (You know, that closer from Alabama who once claimed to bring just one pair of underwear on road trips).
Jim Leyland has been fired by fans, extended by fans, and then made fun of by fans (wait that isn’t anything new). Rick Knapp has been the savior, the fixture, and the revivor. Nate Robertson now knows how to pitch again. Dontrelle Willis looked like a major league pitcher for at least one start this season, which in itself is a miracle. Armando Galarraga went from the best pitcher in 2008, to a respectable 5th starter, to a pitcher on the outside, looking in.
Justin Verlander was counted out of the Cy Young race by many fans, and some bloggers that are in love with Zach Grienke (Love is due, He has been lights out). Now, C.C. Sabathia and Verlander continue to surge to the top of the A.L. Brandon Lyon went from a no good piece of garbage, to being the most consistent right handed reliever the Tigers have with the lowest ERA.
It sure has been a strange season. Brandon Inge went from Homer Hungry to hungry for a hit to hungry for some ink. Now let’s just say his two arms appetite for the ink has disappeared. His hitting has too, putting together only three hits in 24 at bats so far in September. But he is just as important to this team as any other hitter south of Miguel Cabrera. Whether it be a big grab, huge base hit, or grand slam, he has been there in key opportunities. So much that a player who was once either loved or hated, has now become the face of this team. A team that like Inge has seen it’s ups. Seen it’s downs. When it is all said and done though, they won’t go down with a fight. Sometimes baseball is more than stats, lineups and pitching perfomances.
Sometimes it’s about a guy who has two torn up knees and is unwilling to give up on his goals set at the beggining of the season. And sometimes, just sometimes the right type of person’s attitude can really effect how the team performs.
So while Mark Buerle celebrates after his first win since his no-hitter and Joe Mauer looks to continue his MVP run, The Tigers still sit atop the A.L. Central division. Their record might not be pretty. Their play is very often suspect of a contending team. Here we are though in September, and the best baseball the Tigers have played all year is upon us. Players are getting the job done. At the same time though, it is fun. Gum Time has relieved some pressure and fueled some rallies. Not only that, but Nate Robertson has reemerged from the grounds of the 2006 Comerica Park mound to give this team a push down the stretch in 09.
Nobody knows what the rest of September holds. There are so many scenarios. But I am one optimistic Tigers Fan. One that believes that this race is locked and that the Tiger can possibly do some damage in the post-season.